Brooke Harris Helps Kettering Health Embrace the Future

Brooke Harris arrived at Kettering Health with a résumé like few others. The chief human resources officer and VP of human resources has led HR efforts at multiple federal institutions, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. She even took a brief detour at the IRS. But the Kettering position wasn’t Harris’s first run in a healthcare setting. She cut her teeth professionally at the Dayton, Ohio, Community Blood Center, where she honed her craft and gained her first leadership experience.

Despite a deep reservoir of experience in the space, little could prepare Harris for the role she took on in 2019. The pandemic hit just months into her role, and there was only one thing to do.

“We just had to go ‘beast mode,’” the CHRO says, laughing. “We had to move faster than we’ve ever moved before. We had to create remote work environments for those who could do so and create systems of safety for those in our hospitals who just had to be here.”

Harris supported an incident command center, helped teams reduce and reconfigure roles, and took over another region in Kettering’s portfolio. All the while, she learned as much as she could about the health system.

As the world began to recover and adapt to post pandemic life, Kettering began its own internal evolution. With a complete change in the executive team, Harris took on more responsibility.

“Fortunately, there’s a team of great people here who have helped keep the ship steady,” Harris says. “It’s not the first time I’ve been part of an organization going through big changes. I always seem to be one of the people surrounded by a great team to help make it through the storm.”

The added responsibility required Harris to get into the weeds on an entirely new practice area: self-funded insurance plans. Harris acknowledges the challenges of delving into an unfamiliar area while keeping an organization grounded and moving forward. But her 20 years in the game meant she knew the score.

Brooke Harris Kettering Health
Photo by Eric Dietrich

Another piece to all this change may as well be Harris’s calling card at this point. If you hire her, she’s going to make processes and procedures more efficient, streamlined, and modernized. She has achieved this feat in every role she’s ever had, whether it was directly her responsibility or not.

“There were all of these new organizational lessons we’d learned from the pandemic and with an all-new executive team, so we had new eyes on processes,” Harris explains. “There is always this little voice in my head asking, ‘Why do we do things this way? Why don’t we look at changing this? Why don’t we try something different?’ It was a good time to let that voice guide me, because we were going through such organizational change on the whole. It was a good time to embrace that change.”

Right now, Harris is helping Kettering look to the future. The past few years have been difficult, but not insurmountable. In her own department, the CHRO says it’s time for one of the bigger initiatives an HR team—and organization—can undertake.

“We’re studying our enterprise resource planning system and understanding what we need to move forward,” Harris says. “Are we set up to provide service in the best possible way, and can we unify a bunch of structures and processes under one system to move with more agility? I think we can, and I want to get us there.”

The HR team is currently defining its technology road map, seeking the best way to unify disparate systems and integrate more processes into a streamlined environment.

On a personal level, Harris is also walking her own path of growth. As someone who has continually sought new experiences and development opportunities, it’s no wonder that she fills her personal life with so many different activities. Harris is a singer, a crafter, and a writer. Those activities, along with her active faith and family life, have evolved alongside her professional life.

Harris says she wants to find more ways to bring her creations to the world, much like she’s brought change and growth to organizations in her professional life. It’s interesting to hear someone who has done so much express that she has so much left to do, in contexts completely different from her day-to-day role. Harris is the classic ‘Seeker,’ motivated by her own desire to grow—and to make the lives of those around her better in the process.

Invest in Your Emotional IQ

Brooke Harris advocates for HR professionals to invest early in cultivating their emotional IQ. Some of that development simply comes with age and experience, but Harris says people often overlook how the work they do to better understand themselves, their partners, and the world affects their professional presence.

“Navigating all the dynamics of emotions in your work relationships, especially if you want to lead a team, is so important,” the CHRO says. “I wish I had invested in that self-work earlier. If you’re just starting or are early in your career, think about that kind of development, because it will be part of your career every single day.”

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The post Brooke Harris Helps Kettering Health Embrace the Future appeared first on American Healthcare Leader.

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