Paul Birch’s years of experience overseeing technology companies — mainly software firms — has given him insights on assessing organizations and investment opportunities. The Bedford (formerly Carlisle and Concord) resident has held executive positions at GEAC Computer Corp., Escher Group Ltd. and MRO Software, as well as serving on a number of technology company boards, both public and private.
These days, he is a venture partner at Converge Venture Partners, (formerly CommonAngels) with a focus on early-stage technology companies, and is a member of its investment committee. He is also the president of Wayside Athletic Club, a multi-sport facility in Marlborough.
Paul, who is originally from the United Kingdom, spends a considerable amount of his energy on Emerson Hospital. He was initially asked to become a corporator and was soon elected to the Emerson Health Care Foundation Board, on which he still serves. Given his financial expertise, he was subsequently invited to join the hospital’s board of directors, and in 2014 was elected chair.
“How will Emerson retain its relevance and continue to be a strong hospital in the face of significant change in health care?” he asks. “We want to create the best future for all constituents and meet the needs of the communities that we serve. We need to make the community more aware of what Emerson provides, such as our relationships with tertiary hospitals that bring the highest-quality care to the community.”
He came to appreciate the hospital when he required rotator cuff surgery, which was performed by Paul Re, MD, an Emerson orthopedic surgeon. “I’ve had subsequent positive experiences with radiology and gastroenterology as a patient at Emerson,” he says. “This inspired me to begin making gifts. As I became more involved and more knowledgeable, I made Emerson a part of my annual giving program.”
He understands the challenge that hospitals face. “Non-profit hospitals have three financial legs on which they can stand,” Paul says. “They can generate cash through operations, although this is becoming increasingly challenging given changing market dynamics. They can obtain funds through the bond market. And they can turn to philanthropy. In fact, without significant support from the community, it will be difficult for Emerson to offer the breadth of services that the community desires to have available locally.”
Paul has made a bequest to Emerson. “I’m a planner, so I think it’s important to direct what you have left at the end of the day,” he says. “When I made my estate plan, I specified that a percentage of my remaining assets will go to Emerson. My involvement with the hospital is a meaningful part of my life.
“It’s more than just understanding Emerson’s needs,” he notes. “I want to be sure we keep our excellent doctors and a quality hospital here in the community.”