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Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare--Debra Canales: The best leaders put people first in the mission of healthcare

By | December 27 th,  2016 | Debra Canales, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, Catholic healthcare, chief administrative officer, executive vice president, integrated talent, Modern Healthcare, Providence Health & Services, taking risks, women leaders, Blog, chief people and experience officer, diversity, human resources, leadership, medical assistance, mission, Trinity Health | Add A Comment

 

Classic content: One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

Shortly before making the move into faith-based healthcare, Debra Canales remembers giving her former boss the business book “Jesus, CEO” by Laurie Beth Jones. He was grateful for the gift – but hid it in a brown paper bag.

 

“He didn’t feel safe,” Canales remembers now. “It was a pretty revealing moment.”

 

Years later, Canales is earning bouquets of accolades for her bold, holistic leadership at Providence Health & Services in Seattle, where the spiritual aspect of healthcare and work is welcomed as a natural byproduct of being human.

 

“What continues to draw me to healthcare is being able to bring my whole self to work as I center myself and think about a bigger purpose,” she says. “Leadership is not just from the neck up.”

 

Canales’ heartfelt worldview is expressed in very tangible ways at Providence, where in just two years as executive vice president and chief people and experience officer she helped achieve a 50 percent increase in women in senior leadership roles. She also led efforts to provide monetary assistance for employees coping with the high cost of healthcare premiums.

 

“I came to Providence because, when I talked with Rod Hochman (Providence’s CEO), he put people as the number one pillar of his strategic plan,” she says. “That was significant. It was a deeply rooted commitment, and part of that was shaping our talent strategy to be reflective of our communities.”

 

The medical assistance program offers free or reduced premiums tied to household income and the federal poverty level. Caregivers (which is what Providence calls all of its employees) who are at less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level pay no premiums or deductibles and are given seed money to cover out-of-pocket costs. Employees at 250 to 400 percent of the federal level get a 50 percent break on coverage.

 

“When we think about extending and revealing God’s love to the poor and the vulnerable, we need to take care of our own and extend that compassionate service to them as well. There has been an outpouring of gratitude and support, especially from a lot of single mothers and fathers,” Canales says.

 

On the practical side, she’s seeing reduced turnover levels as staff members choose to stay, as well as the highest level of employee engagement and satisfaction in a number of years.

 

“It goes back to our integrated talent strategy – we want to lift up our people as one of the most important elements in how we extend our mission,” she says, “We want to continue to build those enduring relationships with our caregivers and take care of what’s important to them so that they can, in turn, extend that experience to all who come through our doors.”

 

The mission of Providence is key to Canales’ passion.

 

“Mission is the number one factor for us,” she says. “In our engagement surveys, people say that is what brought them here and what keeps them here. It’s that yearning for something more in terms of spirituality and connectivity – the charisms of mind, body and spirit. That is certainly what differentiates us from a Fortune 50 company.”

 

Before she became a respected leader in healthcare, Canales had plenty of experience among such corporate heavyweights. She rose through the ranks as a human-resources executive in retail (R.H. Macy’s Inc.), food service (Yum Brands/PepsiCo), and high-tech (Hewlett Packard/Compaq). She moved into healthcare with Centura Health, then spent more than 10 years at Trinity Health, where she rose to chief administrative officer.

 

She’s become known for leading the charge to make human resources valued as a strategic partner for CEOs, for positioning corporate cultures for change management, and for facilitating resiliency. Yet while taking risks has paid off for her, it was not easy, she allows.

 

“A lot of my movement in my career has been to volunteer for the opportunities no one wanted to take,” she says. “I’ve worked for some very strong, driven bosses. I was always trying to work toward a shared understanding – that’s been my whole approach throughout my career.”

 

It’s an approach some would call courageous. In that, she says, she was influenced by her Aunt Trini, the sister of her grandfather, who was the provincial of a convent – a religious woman who had a lot in common with the Sisters of Providence, who began the health system where Canales now works.

 

“I keep her picture near me as an inspiration,” she says. “When things are hard, I look at her photo and it gives me that confidence to do what’s right. One of my hallmark traits is standing on principle. That’s not always been popular. But for me, that conviction and integrity gives me confidence and self-assurance.”

 

Canales says the woman she was in her 20s climbing the corporate ladder is far removed from the peace she now experiences, influenced not only by Catholic faith but also by the teachings of Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron.

 

“Back then, I couldn’t take as many risks,” she says. “I could not be as vulnerable as I wanted to be. I followed the success pattern to get promoted and, for me, that was what was more important at that time. It was not always authentic. That’s not who I am now.

 

“In the long run, my wholeness is what I value. It’s a freeing sensation to be able to live life in this way, and to help set others free as well gives me such joy.”

 

 

2016 Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare--Tauana McDonald: Leaders remove roadblocks so their people can succeed

By | December 8 th,  2016 | change management, SVP, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, bundled payments, C-suite, Catholic healthcare, electronic health records, IBM, ICD-10, Modern Healthcare, Rometty, Tauana McDonald, Blog, leadership, Trinity Health | Add A Comment

 

Classic content: One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

She paved the way for the ICD-10 project at Trinity Health in Michigan. She led the move to electronic health records. She mastered meaningful use. Now, she’s wrapping up bundled payments.

 

If you need a major project orchestrated correctly at Trinity Health, you inevitably turn to Tauana McDonald, senior vice president of clinical business operations for the Catholic health system.

 

“I know that I am not a clinician,” she says. “I identify the strategy needs and develop the plans. I lead the work from the corporate office so our clinicians don’t have to focus on operational issues and they can do the work they do best, which is taking care of patients.”

 

From the standpoint of organizational mission and personal satisfaction, it’s a role that McDonald says is a good fit for her.

 

“I think some of the projects I lead are making very positive change,” she adds. “That’s how I get to impact both the patients and the caregivers.”

 

McDonald came close to becoming a physician herself. Both of her mother’s sisters were nurses – one in the operating room and one in pediatrics. She remembers them both as being very nurturing people.

 

“People in the community looked to them during their most vulnerable times and there was something about that quality that really appealed to me,” she says.

 

 

So she completed four years of college as a pre-med, but the doubts about whether it was a good fit for her intensified as she sat down to apply to medical school.

 

“I called my parents and said, ‘I don’t think I want to be a doctor.’ And they said, ‘That’s fine. You just need to do something that is going to make you happy and contributes to society.’ ”

 

Giving back is a crucial part of McDonald’s ethics, a trait that she says was instilled by her parents. “In our household, we were always taught to serve because we were blessed and we should use our gifts and talent to help other people,” she says. “I thought healthcare was a great way to do that.”

 

After deciding to pursue a different future than medicine, she enrolled in the University of Michigan graduate school, where she earned a master’s in health administration. “From the first day in the first class, I knew I had landed in the right spot for me. That’s what got me started on my healthcare journey.”

 

Her path had several key stops along the way – IBM, where she was hired by future CEO Ginny Rometty; Deloitte, where she spent seven years doing strategy and operations consulting with healthcare organizations around the country; and motherhood – she stayed home for several years after her children were born.

 

The traveling that came with the Deloitte job was more than she wanted as she balanced family responsibilities, but her former employer Deloitte helped her find a good match at Trinity Health, where she gravitated to the system’s mission that echoed her mother’s advice that “to whom much is given, much is required.”

 

“A few days after I joined Trinity Health, I was in a meeting and we had to make a tough decision,” McDonald remembers. “The CEO leading the meeting said, ‘Can we bow our heads in prayer? Lord, let us put the patient first and ourselves last. Let us do the best thing for our patients.’ At that moment, I understood what it meant to be part of a faith-based organization. It really resonated with me. It still does.”

 

She says she also appreciates the diversity of the ministries that Trinity Health offers.

 

“If there is any kind of work you want to do in healthcare, you should be able to do it at Trinity Health,” she says. “Because we’re so big, there are so many different experiences. If you want to work in a large urban environment or an academic setting, you can work with our Loyola system. If you want to work in a small space, you can do that too. If you are interested in advocacy, we have a huge advocacy team.”

 

The diversity of the staff is of utmost importance to McDonald as well.

 

“Developing diverse leaders is really my passion, and I am intentional about it every day, looking at people in our organization who have a lot of talent that other people may not see right away,” she says.

 

“I believe that having a diverse workforce as well as a diverse leadership team helps us serve our patients better, because we’re bringing those same perspectives. We look like the patients we serve.”
As healthcare continues to evolve, the need for new ideas is critical, and a diversity of experiences can catalyze that, McDonald says.

 

“I take every opportunity that I can to help people with different perspectives share their voice and get a place at the table that allows them to do that.”

 

As the leader of so many key initiatives at a major American health system, McDonald is highly sought after as a mentor. Yet she says many of her key takeaways in leadership come not from another healthcare executive but from Florence Ferguson, her 102-year-old grandmother.

 

One key lesson Ferguson taught her repeatedly was, “You need to begin with the end in mind.”
“She said that a lot,” McDonald recalls. “She said that you need to think about where you want to end up because, as you’re going down that path, you need to be very thoughtful in order to get the results you want.”

 

Ferguson’s other key concept echoed the best leadership experts in her own less-fancy words.

 

“We always hear people talk about the shadow of the leader,” she says. “In her words, my grandmother would say, ‘Tauana, your actions are speaking so loudly that I cannot hear your words.’ If you speak things and your actions go in a different way, I don’t think you’re credible as a leader. So I try to have my actions support what I say – and I learned that from my grandmother.”

 

 

Debra Canales strives to put people first in the mission of healthcare

By | August 17 th,  2016 | Debra Canales, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, Catholic healthcare, chief administrative officer, executive vice president, integrated talent, Modern Healthcare, Providence Health & Services, taking risks, women leaders, Blog, chief people and experience officer, diversity, human resources, leadership, medical assistance, mission, Trinity Health | 1 Comments

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

Shortly before making the move into faith-based healthcare, Debra Canales remembers giving her former boss the business book “Jesus, CEO” by Laurie Beth Jones. He was grateful for the gift – but hid it in a brown paper bag.

 

“He didn’t feel safe,” Canales remembers now. “It was a pretty revealing moment.”

 

Years later, Canales is earning bouquets of accolades for her bold, holistic leadership at Providence Health & Services in Seattle, where the spiritual aspect of healthcare and work is welcomed as a natural byproduct of being human.

 

“What continues to draw me to healthcare is being able to bring my whole self to work as I center myself and think about a bigger purpose,” she says. “Leadership is not just from the neck up.”

 

Canales’ heartfelt worldview is expressed in very tangible ways at Providence, where in just two years as executive vice president and chief people and experience officer she helped achieve a 50 percent increase in women in senior leadership roles. She also led efforts to provide monetary assistance for employees coping with the high cost of healthcare premiums.

 

“I came to Providence because, when I talked with Rod Hochman (Providence’s CEO), he put people as the number one pillar of his strategic plan,” she says. “That was significant. It was a deeply rooted commitment, and part of that was shaping our talent strategy to be reflective of our communities.”

 

The medical assistance program offers free or reduced premiums tied to household income and the federal poverty level. Caregivers (which is what Providence calls all of its employees) who are at less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level pay no premiums or deductibles and are given seed money to cover out-of-pocket costs. Employees at 250 to 400 percent of the federal level get a 50 percent break on coverage.

 

“When we think about extending and revealing God’s love to the poor and the vulnerable, we need to take care of our own and extend that compassionate service to them as well. There has been an outpouring of gratitude and support, especially from a lot of single mothers and fathers,” Canales says.

 

On the practical side, she’s seeing reduced turnover levels as staff members choose to stay, as well as the highest level of employee engagement and satisfaction in a number of years.

 

“It goes back to our integrated talent strategy – we want to lift up our people as one of the most important elements in how we extend our mission,” she says, “We want to continue to build those enduring relationships with our caregivers and take care of what’s important to them so that they can, in turn, extend that experience to all who come through our doors.”

 

The mission of Providence is key to Canales’ passion.

 

“Mission is the number one factor for us,” she says. “In our engagement surveys, people say that is what brought them here and what keeps them here. It’s that yearning for something more in terms of spirituality and connectivity – the charisms of mind, body and spirit. That is certainly what differentiates us from a Fortune 50 company.”

 

Before she became a respected leader in healthcare, Canales had plenty of experience among such corporate heavyweights. She rose through the ranks as a human-resources executive in retail (R.H. Macy’s Inc.), food service (Yum Brands/PepsiCo), and high-tech (Hewlett Packard/Compaq). She moved into healthcare with Centura Health, then spent more than 10 years at Trinity Health, where she rose to chief administrative officer.

 

She’s become known for leading the charge to make human resources valued as a strategic partner for CEOs, for positioning corporate cultures for change management, and for facilitating resiliency. Yet while taking risks has paid off for her, it was not easy, she allows.

 

“A lot of my movement in my career has been to volunteer for the opportunities no one wanted to take,” she says. “I’ve worked for some very strong, driven bosses. I was always trying to work toward a shared understanding – that’s been my whole approach throughout my career.”

 

It’s an approach some would call courageous. In that, she says, she was influenced by her Aunt Trini, the sister of her grandfather, who was the provincial of a convent – a religious woman who had a lot in common with the Sisters of Providence, who began the health system where Canales now works.

 

“I keep her picture near me as an inspiration,” she says. “When things are hard, I look at her photo and it gives me that confidence to do what’s right. One of my hallmark traits is standing on principle. That’s not always been popular. But for me, that conviction and integrity gives me confidence and self-assurance.”

 

Canales says the woman she was in her 20s climbing the corporate ladder is far removed from the peace she now experiences, influenced not only by Catholic faith but also by the teachings of Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron.

 

“Back then, I couldn’t take as many risks,” she says. “I could not be as vulnerable as I wanted to be. I followed the success pattern to get promoted and, for me, that was what was more important at that time. It was not always authentic. That’s not who I am now.

 

“In the long run, my wholeness is what I value. It’s a freeing sensation to be able to live life in this way, and to help set others free as well gives me such joy.”

 

 

Strategic excellence is Tauana McDonald's calling card at Trinity Health

By | July 1 st,  2016 | change management, Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare, bundled payments, C-suite, Catholic healthcare, electronic health records, IBM, ICD-10, Modern Healthcare, Rometty, Tauana McDonald, Blog, leadership, Trinity Health | Add A Comment

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare's Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare for 2016.

 

She paved the way for the ICD-10 project at Trinity Health in Michigan. She led the move to electronic health records. She mastered meaningful use. Now, she’s wrapping up bundled payments.

 

If you need a major project orchestrated correctly at Trinity Health, you inevitably turn to Tauana McDonald, senior vice president of clinical business operations for the Catholic health system.

 

“I know that I am not a clinician,” she says. “I identify the strategy needs and develop the plans. I lead the work from the corporate office so our clinicians don’t have to focus on operational issues and they can do the work they do best, which is taking care of patients.”

 

From the standpoint of organizational mission and personal satisfaction, it’s a role that McDonald says is a good fit for her.

 

“I think some of the projects I lead are making very positive change,” she adds. “That’s how I get to impact both the patients and the caregivers.”

 

McDonald came close to becoming a physician herself. Both of her mother’s sisters were nurses – one in the operating room and one in pediatrics. She remembers them both as being very nurturing people.

 

“People in the community looked to them during their most vulnerable times and there was something about that quality that really appealed to me,” she says.

 

 

So she completed four years of college as a pre-med, but the doubts about whether it was a good fit for her intensified as she sat down to apply to medical school.

 

“I called my parents and said, ‘I don’t think I want to be a doctor.’ And they said, ‘That’s fine. You just need to do something that is going to make you happy and contributes to society.’ ”

 

Giving back is a crucial part of McDonald’s ethics, a trait that she says was instilled by her parents. “In our household, we were always taught to serve because we were blessed and we should use our gifts and talent to help other people,” she says. “I thought healthcare was a great way to do that.”

 

After deciding to pursue a different future than medicine, she enrolled in the University of Michigan graduate school, where she earned a master’s in health administration. “From the first day in the first class, I knew I had landed in the right spot for me. That’s what got me started on my healthcare journey.”

 

Her path had several key stops along the way – IBM, where she was hired by future CEO Ginny Rometty; Deloitte, where she spent seven years doing strategy and operations consulting with healthcare organizations around the country; and motherhood – she stayed home for several years after her children were born.

 

The traveling that came with the Deloitte job was more than she wanted as she balanced family responsibilities, but her former employer Deloitte helped her find a good match at Trinity Health, where she gravitated to the system’s mission that echoed her mother’s advice that “to whom much is given, much is required.”

 

“A few days after I joined Trinity Health, I was in a meeting and we had to make a tough decision,” McDonald remembers. “The CEO leading the meeting said, ‘Can we bow our heads in prayer? Lord, let us put the patient first and ourselves last. Let us do the best thing for our patients.’ At that moment, I understood what it meant to be part of a faith-based organization. It really resonated with me. It still does.”

 

She says she also appreciates the diversity of the ministries that Trinity Health offers.

 

“If there is any kind of work you want to do in healthcare, you should be able to do it at Trinity Health,” she says. “Because we’re so big, there are so many different experiences. If you want to work in a large urban environment or an academic setting, you can work with our Loyola system. If you want to work in a small space, you can do that too. If you are interested in advocacy, we have a huge advocacy team.”

 

The diversity of the staff is of utmost importance to McDonald as well.

 

“Developing diverse leaders is really my passion, and I am intentional about it every day, looking at people in our organization who have a lot of talent that other people may not see right away,” she says.

 

“I believe that having a diverse workforce as well as a diverse leadership team helps us serve our patients better, because we’re bringing those same perspectives. We look like the patients we serve.”
As healthcare continues to evolve, the need for new ideas is critical, and a diversity of experiences can catalyze that, McDonald says.

 

“I take every opportunity that I can to help people with different perspectives share their voice and get a place at the table that allows them to do that.”

 

As the leader of so many key initiatives at a major American health system, McDonald is highly sought after as a mentor. Yet she says many of her key takeaways in leadership come not from another healthcare executive but from Florence Ferguson, her 102-year-old grandmother.

 

One key lesson Ferguson taught her repeatedly was, “You need to begin with the end in mind.”
“She said that a lot,” McDonald recalls. “She said that you need to think about where you want to end up because, as you’re going down that path, you need to be very thoughtful in order to get the results you want.”

 

Ferguson’s other key concept echoed the best leadership experts in her own less-fancy words.

 

“We always hear people talk about the shadow of the leader,” she says. “In her words, my grandmother would say, ‘Tauana, your actions are speaking so loudly that I cannot hear your words.’ If you speak things and your actions go in a different way, I don’t think you’re credible as a leader. So I try to have my actions support what I say – and I learned that from my grandmother.”

 

 

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