Providing financial guidance: Meet your finance leadership team
Last week, readers were given a detailed look at the Department of Finance, a group that partners with leaders across the organization to ensure Michigan Medicine is making the right strategic decisions at the right time.
To carry out this important role, the department employs four associate chief financial officers (ACFOs) and a financial controller. The ACFOs are each assigned to a specific area of the organization, such as the U-M Medical School, U-M Medical Group, UH/CVC and C&W. They are tasked with providing sound financial guidance to each area’s executive leadership.
Headlines recently sat down with the three current permanent ACFOs and the controller to find out — in their own words — how they carry out their work and what drives them to help Michigan Medicine employees provide ideal patient care, education and research.
Here’s what they had to say:
Diana Witowski, ACFO, U-M Medical School
Q: How do you define your current role?
DW: As a finance and business advisor to the executive leadership of the medical school, I stay closely connected to all financial activity occurring in the academic enterprise and ensure that our strategic financial planning is sophisticated, coordinated and communicated effectively. I rely heavily on our departmental leadership and finance teams and am thankful for these important relationships. That’s the only way we can be certain of fiscal integrity and sustainability — and create a strong platform for making the best decisions.
Q: Why is your partnership with UMMS leadership so important?
DW: I am incredibly fortunate that Dr. Carol Bradford (Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs) views me as a part of her core team, trusts my leadership and involves my team in all decisions with financial impact. We think and plan for the long-term in order to run a world-class institution. I, along with my finance leadership colleagues, are fortunate that executives understand the importance of our role.
Ken Lipan, ACFO, University Hospital/Frankel Cardiovascular Center
Q: How do you carry out your role at UH/CVC?
KL: Each day, I serve to advise the segment triad leadership on issues that involve financial resources so that the best possible decisions are made consistent with our mission and values. Such impartial partnership is vital in that it allows us to foster an environment based on mutual respect. When you have that type of trusting environment, you can tackle the most difficult issues and focus on what is best for the patient and the organization in a frank, open and honest manner.
Q: You have plans to retire in February. What has been the most satisfying part of your work at Michigan Medicine?
KL: Health care is an industry that has allowed me to combine my finance and analytical skills to an organization that is focused on helping people. It is deeply satisfying knowing that the work I do either directly or indirectly improves the lives of people at the time when they are most vulnerable.
Mike Klett, ACFO, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital
Q: How do you balance working with leadership at C&W while also answering to the Department of Finance?
MK: Striking that balance is both challenging and rewarding. Upon accepting this role, I was adamant that I wanted to physically maintain an office with the C&W administrative team and be part of as many committees as possible. That’s how I can learn and get comfortable with the strategies and priorities of the segment — which is invaluable when it comes to proving financial stewardship.
Q: What convinced you to enter the health care industry in the first place?
MK: I was drawn to the unique challenges of the industry based on some of my prior academic course work, which included a project within a large academic hospital. More importantly, I have always appreciated the amazing work that nurses do and their impact on patients. Such a belief has only been reinforced by having several family members who are nurses. I know that ensuring the financial health of this organization allows our nurses and other employees to do their jobs well.
Bobby Hewlett III, financial controller
Q: As a controller, what sorts of things are you responsible for?
BH: In a nutshell, my role is working with the talented professionals in our central finance office to aggregate financials results, report financial progress, perform analysis on various strategies, and solve financial issues as they present themselves. No day is ever the same, but the themes of collaboration, data-driven decision making and service to my peers and the organization are present on a daily basis.
Q: What is the most inspiring part of your job?
BH: The commitment and level of expertise of our team and teams across Michigan Medicine — regardless of function or role — is indescribable. I learn from everyone in the organization, which helps me and motivates me to ensure we are making decisions that ensure our financial stability well into the future.