Stephen Donnelly is now the man in the gap as our health service teeters towards whatever will be its latest crisis. He can call on subtle skills learned at Harvard University. But could it be unlikely lessons from the Jack Charlton school of hard knocks that might be more critical for his survival?
When he is facing down Phil Ní Sheaghdha fighting the good fight for her nurses or taking on hospital consultants ever watchful lest the status quo come unstuck, he may well feel he risks entering a maze. One wrong move and he is gliding into a great unknown. Action on one front could spark serious reaction somewhere totally unexpected.
Whatever he says or does, our multi-billion euro health service must all the while keep ticking over. Matters of life and death forever hover. On the sidelines, politicians from every party will be determined that his decisions, right or wrong, must never threaten their re-election prospects.
In his new job he will see self-interest in its rawest state. Doing the right thing, seeing through a plan that makes most sense, may be impossible if political survival - his own or that of the Government - is at stake. In such scenarios, will he have the courage to forge forward regardless of the consequences?
He must remember an over-academic approach to an often-grubby political world has ended many a political career. Alan Shatter, who possessed "a razor-sharp legal intellect", was one such casualty.
Being justice minister was his job of dreams; he gave it his all introducing much-needed legal reform. But machinations in the Garda which were beyond his radar set in train a hurricane.
A confluence of events blew him out of office, eventually signalling an end to his tenure as a TD.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has gambled much by way of Donnelly's appointment, hoping he will be a mould-breaker. The new minister's success or otherwise will be pivotal to the perceived success of Fianna Fáil in government.
Donnelly will not be able to solve what is dubbed our 'health crisis'. It is too much of a moving target for any kind of neat, rounded solution to many of its more intractable challenges. Rather, he will be judged on whether he can resolve a range of challenges discussed and diagnosed ad nauseam.
Powerful unions and sundry vested interests groups may thwart his best-laid plans. Money is going to be in short supply for any bold initiatives. The service must operate ever faster just to stand still. Opposition TDs will play politics, often scoring cheap points by highlighting a particular story of heartbreak. And there is the spectre of Covid-19.
As well as implementing longer-term strategy, ongoing crisis management will be the order of the day. He will need to call on every trick he learned as a McKinsey management guru. But could it be the world of management in sport - grounded in its own unique turbulence - has some special insights to offer?
Legendary Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson wrote a best-seller on how to get things done when in the eye of a storm. He was later hired to share his insights with high-flyers in the corporate world.
And as we wallow in Italia '90 anniversary memories, we are also reminded that Jack Charlton was a manager with an underestimated sureness of touch. Looking back, his singular talent when guiding our national soccer team was that he made the very best of what was at his disposal.
One English paper dubbed his team "a bunch of mercenaries and misfits". Unfair to be sure - but it touched a nerve. Charlton throughout remained unfazed by criticism. He was dogged, stubborn, and would not be deviated from his game plan. He was also intelligent and analytical when it came to whatever was the task at hand.
His way of doings things attracted vicious criticism from detractors; they waited for inevitable setbacks to justify the claim he was without vision. But Charlton accepted he operated on shifting sands. He had the self-belief to ride out punches even when on the ropes. Adversity was something to be confronted.
Big Jack knew theory was all well and good. But putting it into practice? Life had told him that's a whole different ball game.