March 31, 2017 | last updated March 31, 2017 2:16 pm
Women in Business 2017

Goyette is Hartford HealthCare's strategic planner

Photo | Steve Laschever
Photo | Steve Laschever

Karen T. Goyette

Senior Vice President, Strategy and System Integration

Hartford HealthCare

Early in her career, Karen Goyette learned a lesson that would be a constant in her work in the healthcare industry.

When her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, doctors coldly explained the situation and left her family stunned in the waiting room. At that moment, she thought to herself, "There's probably a better way to do this."

"So much about health care is relationships," she said. "And I always ask: Is that the way you want your family to be treated?"

Goyette, who worked her way up from a teen hospital volunteer to senior vice president for strategy and system integration at Hartford HealthCare (HHC) is known by colleagues and staff to be genuine and caring.

"She's a person of integrity," said Jeff Flaks, Hartford HealthCare's president and chief operating officer. He has worked with Goyette for 12 years and has watched her career trajectory with admiration. "She has incredible wit, wonderful enthusiasm and a can-do attitude that is unflappable."

During her 17 years at HHC, Goyette has become known as a leader in understanding healthcare trends and adapting to an ever-changing landscape of patients and services.

In just the past five years, she spearheaded the plan to bring 252 healthcare locations across Connecticut and was involved in the architectural planning, building negotiation and regulatory procedures.

"She has vision and the capacity to execute those plans," said Flaks. "There are many people who work in strategic planning who can do one or the other, and she is a rare combination of both. She has the consistency to create results."

Her list of accomplishments is extensive.

Under Goyette's leadership, 18 Family Health Care Centers have opened across the central, northern and eastern regions of Connecticut and she is instrumental in creating innovative models to expand traditional hospital-based outpatient surgery. The company now has seven outpatient surgery and procedural centers and was the No. 1 choice in the state for outpatient surgery in 2016, with more than 54,000 outpatient surgeries taking place at HHC facilities.

Goyette's other accomplishments include the merger and acquisition of The Hospital of Central Connecticut and Backus Hospital with HHC, the pioneering of HHC's strategic planning process — including the organization's new mission, vision and values statements, five-year strategies and annual balanced scorecard — and the authoring of dozens of certificates of need with the state, leading to a range of service expansions such as adding operating-room capacity and a new 64-slice CT scanner technology.

Additionally, she led the planning, design and construction of a $45 million facility expansion at MidState Medical Center in Meriden, which included a four-story patient tower, new emergency department and main lobby enhancement.

Goyette is quick to recognize her team that works the projects.

"I've been able to build a great team," she explained. "It is about the relationships. We work hard but it's important to have fun and some laughs."

An avid golfer, she combines her love of the sport, her colleagues and HHC to participate in and sponsor the Traveler's Golf Championship each summer. She leads a group from HHC to Women's Day each year.

"It's a great teambuilding experience," she said. "We've gathered women here who wouldn't typically have participated. It connects the dots to people."

These sorts of experiences are important for her to model.

In one of her first jobs at another company, she was the lone woman on an executive floor, and often left out of activities and meetings.

"It was eye opening," she said. Against some advice, she left that position to find a better fit.

"I learned to trust my gut," she explained. "You'll sometimes have bumps in the road. When you make mistakes, don't take them personally but learn from them."

Sharing that success is part of her character. In 2016, she spoke at the national conference for the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development and serves as board director for several organizations.

Goyette thanks her family for their support, and credits her husband, John and 13-year-old daughter Avery with much of her success. "I'm so lucky, none of my career growth could have happened without my husband managing what he does at home," she said.

She also found a mentor in Lucille Janatka, senior vice president at Hartford HealthCare.

Goyette said she told her many years ago: "It's a little bit of a man's world, so you put on your hard hat and stand tall."

What legacy do you want to leave after your career is over?

I have worked in health care for my entire career. I hope people would say I made a difference for patients. No one ever truly wants to visit a hospital or have a procedure — but if a program/service or building I developed made the experience of a patient or caregiver better — that would mean the world to me.

I have also been very fortunate to have amazing mentors both female and male. If I could make half the difference these individuals have made in my life both personally and professionally, for someone else that would make me proud. I owe it to those individuals to pay it forward.

What are your keys to maintaining business success?

People say it is about building a strong team, and it is. But more important to me, it is about strengthening relationships. I love to find out what makes people happy and support that, to support the whole person. Everyone has a story, and everyone has strengths and weaknesses. It is about helping individuals find those strengths and making those shine through.

My favorite success stories have been when a group of individuals that have no experience working together, collaborated on a project and emerged as a team.

What are your keys to maintaining work/life balance?

I am very blessed to have an amazing husband and daughter. None of my professional career growth would have ever been possible without their support. My husband manages all the logistics of our home. With this said, I never miss a "life event" for our family. Whether it means rescheduling a meeting, or working early/late to accommodate the change — I make it happen. I know those are the moments you will never get back. It is equally important to schedule down time for yourself. I am a golfer and I belong to a ladies league that plays every Thursday evening in the summer — I block off that time on my calendar.

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