Cerner Operations Exec Credits His Faith

Sep. 16, 2013 - by Carol Best

MNU Experience Is Great Foundation for Alum

by Rachel Phelps ('09)
September 16, 2013
20131105 DPeterson

From shooting guard for the Avignon-National 2 professional basketball team in France to operations executive for Cerner Corporation, David Peterson (’04) says the one constant in his post-college life has been his faith.

“I just trust that God's got a plan and try to stay faithful. It comes full circle,” says Peterson.

Peterson played basketball for the Pioneers all four years of his college career. After graduating with a BA in business and communications he spent his first several months after college completing an international business internship in Avignon, France at Palais du Pape (or The Pope’s Palace), and stayed to play professional basketball. When he returned to the US to search for a job he found himself moving furniture and roofing houses. Learning about an opportunity at Cerner, he landed a formal interview at the corporation’s headquarters in Kansas City.

“I relied on my background in sports and working on and with teams as my foundation when being interviewed. Not to mention I had faith the Lord would guide my hand,” says Peterson.

This pioneering attitude paid off for him. An official offer arrived in the mail several days later and Peterson began his career with Cerner. During the last eight-plus years, he has held nine positions within the company – from solutions delivery consultant to operations executive - and has worked in London, Paris and New York City, among other locations. The international scope of his job is something he worked toward in college.

“My end goal was to get back to Europe to use my French language skills,” says Peterson, who took international business courses at MNU. “Through this job, I had a chance to do that for two years. The Lord knows the desires of your heart.”

Cerner is a health software company that designs, builds and implements medical software across specialties and venues. Peterson’s job involves coordinating with two of Cerner’s largest clients – Adventist Health East and Florida Hospital.

“It is my job to work with executive leadership on the client side to ensure they are realizing the full potential in their partnership with Cerner. I spend half my time working in Orlando with the client and the other in KC coordinating with some 13 divisions at Cerner to ‘keep the wheels greased’,” he says. “I’m making sure they're having the best possible experience with Cerner, maximizing their value and realizing the investment on their dollars.”

This includes meeting with CEOs to plan a “roadmap” for utilizing the software and making sure any problems reported are dealt with in a timely manner. Working for a health software company wasn’t Peterson’s precise goal, but Cerner has enabled him to exercise his passion for serving others.

“I've always felt like engaging with people, seeing it from another's point of view, is one of my strengths,” says Peterson.

Which isn’t to say that his job doesn’t hold its challenges. His current position often includes working 12 hour days or longer, and there are unique hurdles to overcome. He recounts an experience of training physicians in Marseilles, France, on Cerner software.

“It's intimidating when you're the only American trying to speak French to 16 doctors, but I relied on the Lord's strength and trusted that He had a plan,” Peterson says.

His MNU experience helped him gain that trust. Peterson says when he looks back at his college years, what stands out most to him are the character-building lessons he learned – the importance of integrity, honesty and valuing other people. The relationships he had with his professors enriched his learning experience.

“Having an intimate setting such as MNU for college was great in that I was being taught by professors with doctorates – and they genuinely cared for their students,” says Peterson. “The fact professors were willing to go the extra mile and take an interest in helping you not only succeed in the classroom, but in life, is one facet of MNU that sticks with me to this day.”

Peterson has a family legacy with the MNU. His grandfather was the architect for the campus, his father coached Pioneer basketball in the 1980s, and his mother is the current Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He currently volunteers as an assistant coach for the Women Pioneers basketball team to stay involved at MNU.

“I’m just trying to teach them life through basketball,” says Peterson. “Being selfless, being a servant to others, those are things I try to communicate to them through sports.”

While coaching gives him a chance to exercise his love of sports, it also allows him to observe the campus community as it is now.

“Seeing the diversity on campus these days is a prayer answered.  Students and faculty alike hail from different countries, ethnic and social backgrounds and religious viewpoints. And that’s what I see at MNU these days – people embracing ‘who they are’ and living for Jesus,” says Peterson.

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