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Emily Rogan



Since its inception in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has been changing healthcare—not just for consumers, but also for the professionals who work in the industry. Read here about four intrepid individuals and how they’ve blazed trails in this ever-evolving field.

HURON CONSULTING: Phenomenal Team, Phenomenal Talent

Keilana Frank, a director with Huron Consulting Group in Chicago, earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Spelman College and one in industrial engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology through a dual degree program.

“With a background in mathematics and industrial engineering, people are often intrigued how I landed in healthcare consulting,” says Frank. “On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a correlation.”

In fact, the opposite proves to be true. “Mathematics honed my analytical skills, while industrial engineering strengthened my problem solving and critical thinking skills, which are the essence of process improvement consulting,” she says. Frank is currently pursuing an MBA in healthcare from George Washington University.

Since joining Huron five years ago, Frank oversees project execution for hospital, health system, and academic medical center clients. She manages the implementation team and provides professional development opportunities for staff members.

In addition, Frank is a sponsor for the African- American iMatter team. “The iMatter team’s mission is to promote diversity and inclusion at Huron Consulting Group by developing programs, recommendations, and initiatives focused on strengthening the relationship between Huron and its African-American employees,” she says. There are six iMatter teams (also known as employee resource groups) for employees, which include teams for working parents, African Americans, working women, and veterans, for example.

There are multiple reasons why Frank enjoys her work. She cites her co-workers as number one. “We have phenomenal teams with an unbelievable amount of talent,” Frank says. She also loves interacting with Huron’s clients. “The landscape of healthcare is changing rapidly and we are in a unique position to be able to help our clients navigate and succeed,” she adds.

Frank emphasizes the importance of strong communication skills for college students entering the workplace. Using the acronym CLIMB, Frank explains that job seekers in any industry need to communicate, listen, integrate, maneuver, and balance in order to achieve success. “The ability to effectively communicate is critical to develop relationships and gain client buy-in,” she says. “You need to actively listen to implement the best solutions possible for your clients.” Being able to integrate and adapt to new environments and maneuver through challenges are also necessary, says Frank, and no less significant. “You need to find a healthy balance between work and your personal life,” she adds.

A diversified workforce is a priority at Huron, so the company partners with diversity organizations at targeted schools and sponsors events such as the National Association of Healthcare Executives Annual Education Conference. Additionally, Huron strives to promote an inclusive atmosphere through the work of its Diversity and Inclusion Council.

Huron is focused particularly on recruitment in the healthcare field, says Frank. Interested candidates can submit their resumes online at the company’s website and can visit the company’s Facebook page to stay informed on Huron’s initiatives.

Looking ahead, Frank believes that hospitals will have to reevaluate their operations to adapt. “The healthcare environment is changing rapidly with the shift from volume to value, an increased focus on quality, and changes in reimbursement,” she says. “Hospitals will need to focus on building risk models for population health management, reducing readmissions, reducing variation in care, and evaluating how they can deliver care effectively and efficiently.”

MAYO CLINIC: Meaningful HR Solutions Help Drive Healthcare Efforts

Fred Wills wants to make life a little better for people—so it’s no surprise that his optimism and passion drew him to a career in healthcare management, most recently as administrative director, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, with the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

“I wanted to be in a better position to create positive change, and that became the basis for my future academic and professional pursuits,” Wills says.

As administrative director, Wills works closely with the medical director of diversity and inclusion, Dr. Sharonne Hayes, “to set Mayo’s strategic vision around diversity and inclusion. We help shape the institution’s efforts to deliver culturally competent and equitable healthcare,” Wills says. “We are committed to meeting people’s needs in ways that are culturally appropriate and help them feel welcome.”

Wills earned a BA from Wright State University and then an MPA from California State University, Graduate Center for Public Policy & Administration.

In addition to prior diversity experience in the healthcare industry, Wills has a grant-writing and financial management back ground with government and not-for-profit organizations. He’s worked in operations and logistics with several health organizations with a focus on economic inclusion and building capacity for diversity and inclusion. Wills also serves on boards of community organizations as a way to stay connected and give back to people.

One aspect of his job that Wills loves is the variety that each day brings. “My job scope hits every component of the business, from patient care and quality to the welcoming and inclusive environment for patients, visitors, and staff.” Wills has a hand in helping Mayo Clinic achieve its goal of recruiting, retaining, and advancing women and underrepresented minorities. Additionally, his office supports Mayo Clinic’s pursuit of health-disparities research.

“The learning never stops. I am constantly challenged and that is motivating for me,” says Wills. “It is energizing to learn the organization’s priorities and identify how those intersect with diversity and inclusion efforts,” he adds. “It’s about creating solutions, engaging folks and groups in ways that are meaningful to them and their work and, as a result, has a positive impact on the healthcare we deliver.”

The healthcare industry presents its own set of challenges, particularly in today’s climate. The biggest obstacle, says Wills, is the complexity and uncertainty that has come with healthcare reform. He also believes that the changing face of our nation—the growing diversity— shines a spotlight on the cultural differences and health disparities that greatly impact healthcare.

Wills is generous with his advice to graduates as they make the transition from campus to workforce. Above all, he urges students to find their passion and build on that foundation.

“View each opportunity as a learning opportunity,” says Wills. “Each project provides a new chance to develop. Stretch your comfort zone; learning and effectiveness is gathered through experience and there is no replacement for hard work. Take the initiative; it can lead you down new paths, and provide opportunities and experience you might never have imagined. Finally, be patient and learn your craft—build on your strengths to make yourself and your skill set indispensable.”

Wills takes great pride in Mayo Clinic’s efforts to develop a multi-cultural, diversified workforce. To identify and recruit talent, the hospital partners with colleges to engage with students through career fairs, internships, and classroom interaction.

His team also reaches out to diversity-focused community groups and professional organizations to match career interests with available opportunities at the Mayo Clinic.

NAVIGANT HEALTHCARE: Systems That Are Efficient And Responsive

Sharon Williams’ moment of clarity came as an intern in a local hospital during her undergraduate years; she knew then that she wanted to work in the healthcare industry. Today she is a director within the “payer transformation practice” with Navigant Healthcare. “I partner with payers and providers to create a system of healthcare delivery that is more efficient and responsive to patients and providers,” she says. “I facilitate change for a variety of clients within the healthcare space.”

Williams’ educational background includes a dual bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University in public relations and citizenship and public affairs, and a dual master’s degree from the University of Chicago in health administration and public policy, with a minor in economics. Under a Sloan Fellowship, Williams completed policy management programs at Carnegie Mellon and Harvard University. She also earned a Microsystems Planning Certificate from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

At Navigant for just under two years, Williams loves “the fast pace and the constant learning curve, the diversity of projects and content. The work is fascinating and this is the time to be in healthcare—it’s like the Wild West.”

When offering advice to newly graduated students, she pulls no punches. “If you want opportunities, don’t wait for an invitation, let it be known what you would like to achieve and be willing to work hard to make it happen,” says Williams. That often means working longer hours than the traditional eight-hour workday.

While understanding the healthcare business and its terminology is invaluable, “financial and analytic skills are essential to getting your foot in the door,” says Williams. “There’s no room for quitters; tenacity and resilience are key traits. You are responsible for your career.”

Navigant’s recruitment efforts include attending college fairs and an outreach program to attract interns and recent college graduates.

Internally, Navigant sponsors a diversity council and has several affinity groups, focusing on black/ African ancestry, Asian ethnicity, LGBTA, Hispanic, women, and young professionals. The company encourages employees to join professional organizations. Williams is a member of American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), National Association for Health Services Executives (NAHSE), Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), and Healthcare Business Women’s Association.

Williams is energized and optimistic about the healthcare industry. “Given the health reform legislation that was passed, federal and state governments, employers, consumers, providers, insurance companies, and advocates are all trying to figure out their next move.” The consulting business can be part of the solution, suggests Williams. “I’m bullish on our industry. This is an exciting time to be in healthcare.”

UPMC: Understanding The Value Of Supplier Diversity

Love sidetracked Toni Silva, director of supplier relations at UPMC (formerly University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.) Although she planned to attend college immediately after high school, she ended up marrying her high school sweetheart who was in the Air Force. They traveled the U.S., eventually ending up in England, where they lived for three years. Returning to the U.S., Silva earned an associate’s degree from Wright College in Illinois, and a bachelor’s degree in information science and master’s degree in mental health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

When she struggled to find work in the information science field, Silva took a job with Transitional Services, Inc. (TSI), an organization that provides rehabilitation and residential services to individuals with mental disabilities, where she worked for 13 years. Her path there was not an easy one. “I worked my way from the bottom to the top of the corporate chain,” says Silva. “There were obstacles along the way, but I always viewed them as opportunities.”

Silva left TSI for PNC Financial Services Group (PNC) because, “PNC offered a perfect opportunity for me to advance my career in an area that I really love: diversity.” She developed and implemented PNC’s supplier diversity program. Seven years later she joined UPMC as manager of supplier relations, “to provide strategic direction to its supplier diversity program, to lead the supply chain management (SCM) social responsibility program, and to develop and deploy a vendor management program,” she explains. In her current position as director, Silva continues to lead the UPMC system- wide supplier diversity program and the SCM social responsibility program. She also leads UPMC’s Insurance Services Division’s Minority, Women-owned and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (MWDBE) Initiative.

Silva credits her experiences at both PNC and TSI with preparing her for the challenges she faces in her role today.

Silva notes that the industry is rapidly changing with the new healthcare reform agenda. She’s faced with consolidation of vendors and finding local MWDBEs who can meet the needs of her company. It’s also a challenge to find those companies who can provide “new/niche services,” says Silva. And the constant changes in technology keep her busy, she adds.

Silva advises college graduates and all prospective employees to research the organization where they want to work. “Talk to employees who work there,” she says. “Review the website to better understand the organization. Feel confident and be enthusiastic at the interview.”

Silva is proud of UPMC’s efforts to be inclusive and diversified in its hiring practices. She credits both the human resources department as well as the Center for Inclusion (CFI) for focusing on the recruitment, development, and retention of a diversified workforce. In addition, Silva highlight’s the organization’s commitment to giving back to the community. “UPMC’s K-12 initiatives invest in the lives of our youth,” she comments. “The program helps students discover a wide variety of careers, both medical and non-medical, teaches students teamwork and how to treat others with dignity and respect, and introduces healthy lifestyles and options to foster academic achievement.”

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