Atlanta Business Chronicle- Carol Burrell, 2018 Women Who Mean Business honoree

October 18, 2018

Atlanta Business Chronicle has named our 2018 Women Who Mean Business honorees. The women will be celebrated at an awards event Oct. 18 at American Spirit Works. Here’s a Q&A with one of the honorees, Carol Burrell, CEO, Northeast Georgia Health System:

Q: You’ve been named one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Women Who Mean Business 2018. How can other women leaders win similar accolades for their achievements?

A: I know it sounds like a trite answer, but I truly have never been focused on awards or accolades; in fact, I am really uncomfortable with personal awards and the attention on me as a person. But, I try to remind myself that in recognitions like this, I am not drawing attention to myself as much as the almost 9,000 employees I represent. They are the ones truly making a difference every day in the lives of patients we serve. So that would be my advice: don’t focus on the award; focus on the work and the people you lead — the accolades will come naturally from the results you produce.

Q: What does leadership mean to you?

A: I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on what it means to be a leader, especially leading through challenging times or disruptive environments. As a leader, I have immense trust in the team around me — that is critical to effective leadership. But I also recognize that I have to inspire that team and provide the roadmap of where we’re headed. Even when I might personally be discouraged, I have to rise above that and provide vision and confidence for my team and our organization. I recognize that I set the tone and establish the culture for NGHS. That is immense responsibility; that is leadership.

Q: Please give some details about one of your top accomplishments of the past year that you are most proud of.

A: In October 2017, we implemented a new electronic health record system that transformed the way we deliver care throughout our health system. It unified multiple different computer systems across our hospitals, physician groups and internal scheduling and billing — it touched virtually our entire system and greatly improved our patient and provider experience. It was a tremendous undertaking and one that went extremely well. Now at the one-year mark post-implementation, we look back with a lot of pride in all that we accomplished.

A: Interestingly enough, the decision to implement our new electronic health record system came after a previous system installation did not go very well. Due to a myriad of circumstances, it soon became clear after our previous system’s Go Live that we were not positioned for success. We had to quickly implement interim measures, reevaluate our options and move forward with a new solution. We learned a great deal through that process, and I truly believe our success last October was due in large part to how much knowledge and experience we gained through our previous implementation. That experience reshaped my outlook on what we might consider “failure,” “mistakes” or “missteps.” What you can learn from something that didn’t quite go as expected is invaluable — and if you take advantage of that growth, the end result can often be even better than you expected.

Q: Who is a favorite leader you admire, and why?

A: I have often admired Queen Elizabeth II. She began her reign as a young female leader in an era when women often were not in leadership roles. She navigated her challenges with poise and grace. And, in difficult times, she called upon her values and training as the compass to guide her through. I have tried to do that personally and within our organization — clarifying and embedding our core values so that as uncertainty shifts around us, we can hold steadfast to our values as our guide.

Q: How do you motivate and inspire teams to achieve big goals?

A: As I said earlier, I have learned that inspiration starts with me. I am fortunate to have a leadership team made up of incredibly smart and talented people. We have a medical staff that is second to none, a workforce of dedicated caregivers who truly put our patients first, volunteers who give of themselves selflessly and board members who are faithfully committed to our organization and this community. I have full confidence that this team can accomplish any goal put in front of them. My job is just to continue to convey that confidence and help set the vision for where we are headed — always keeping our mission to our community and patients at the center of any goal we set.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: My faith is the foundation of my inspiration, and my family is the bedrock that keeps me focused on what matters most. And I remind myself that I am leading an organization of people who also need to remain focused on what matters most — their family, their faith, their own wellbeing. When we’re at work, we are 110 percent focused on the safety, healing and care of our patients and visitors. But, that focus is only sustainable when it’s coupled with a personal balance of what’s important outside of work. I believe so wholeheartedly in our mission to our community, as do all those who work beside me throughout the system, but we can only fulfill that mission when we are fully charged. When I recharge through faith and family, it helps remind me how important that is for all of our employees.