Retired Navy captain, pharmacist speaks about leadership

Over 100 faculty, staff, and students filed into Ed Herring Lecture Hall to hear a lecture on leadership given by retired Navy Captain and pharmacist, Mark Brouker, on Wednesday, August 27. Captain Brouker has learned much regarding the art of leadership and is absolutely passionate about helping others on their leadership journey. 


Captain Brouker recently completed an illustrious 30 year naval career. He served in a number of leadership positions in the United States, overseas, and onboard naval ships, spanning entry level pharmacy management positions to the C-suite. 


Captain Brouker served as Pharmacy Department Head at a number of Naval Hospitals, Deputy Director of the Department of Defense Pharmacoeconomic Center, Executive Officer at U.S. Naval Hospital, Rota Spain, Commanding Officer at Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington and Chief of Staff, Navy Medicine West. As Chief of Staff he was responsible for day to day operations of 10 Navy hospitals from the West Coast to the Western Pacific and executive coaching for 10 Commanding Officers. Captain Brouker is the first Pharmacy Officer in the Navy to be selected as Commanding Officer of a Family Medicine Teaching Hospital and the first Pharmacy Officer in the Navy to be selected as a regional Chief of Staff. 


Captain Brouker’s presentation was titled “Leadership Pearls” in which he spoke of three specific traits of a leader; care for your staff, show optimism, and continuously learn the art of leadership.


In order to care for your staff, you need to get to know them. “Leadership is about building relationships, it’s a contact sport” Brouker said.


Try to make sure their basic needs are met, discuss their goals, and find out their struggles.


“If you learn nothing else from today, remember this, spending thirty minutes to get to know each other. It’s an extremely powerful tool,” he stated.


Another step in caring for your staff is to be sure to give accolades. Make sure you tell your staff when they are doing a good job. Alternatively, if someone isn’t doing well or doing something wrong, fix it. Talk to the staff member; figure out what the problem is, and how to fix it.


Leadership pearl number two is show optimism. When you have a “can do” attitude, it will emulate to the staff. Captain Brouker referenced Shackleton’s Way by Morrell and Capparell which tells the story of Ernest Shackleton and his crew being trapped in the ice around Antarctica for months with no way of communication to get help. Shackleton and his crew amazingly survived, mainly because of his optimism and his will for himself and his crew to survive.


 “You have three options when being a leader; be optimistic, fake it, or take the day off” he said.


A pessimistic leader is worse than an absent leader because a pessimistic leader will emulate that attitude towards his staff and everyone will feel it, whereas an absent leader isn’t there and can’t emulate the bad attitude.  So if you’re having a bad day and you can’t fake it, take the day off.


“Be humble, have fun, and don’t take yourself too seriously” said Brouker.


The third leadership pearl is to continuously learn the art of leadership. Many times we are taught things at a young age from our parents or grandparents, but we forget. Make sure you always take time to learn new things about leadership or remember the leadership skills our families have taught us and use them.


Captain Brouker believes there should be more leadership courses taught before students graduate and go out to their new jobs.


Col. William Pickard, Chair of the Clinical Research Department, stated that Captain Brouker has been approved to teach an online leadership course in the Clinical Research Department as an elective course which all CPHS students will be able to complete. 

Photo: Captain Brouker addresses the student audience 

Article by: Kayla N. Clark