5 minutes with...Devin Carty, chief talent/experience officer, Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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How does a NASA space researcher bounce from consulting to HR to marketing and back to being an HR executive? There’s only one person we know who can tell you that first-hand, and that’s Devin Carty.

Early in your career, you were a space researcher at NASA. Since then, you’ve focused on health care HR. Was that a path you always intended to take or did your varied career evolve organically?
While I am a “nerdy” scientist by training (studying biology, biochemistry, microbiology, and organic chemistry), I always knew my talents and strengths centered around leading teams, building relationships, business acumen, balancing many moving parts in concert together, and entrepreneur thinking, all coupled with a love and passion for health care. In this role, I wake up every single day reminded that I have an opportunity to positively impact lives.
 
When I was a partner for the health care consulting practice for Gallup...I had the blessing of going into health care companies around the globe to help evolve their cultures from poor employee engagement or patient experience…to improve these cultures to world class level, places you would want to work and want to take a loved one for care.
 
I was then asked to join a growing company called Vanguard Health System. I started as their Chief Talent & Learning Officer…I then evolved to the Chief Experience Officer, where I worked to create an emotionally engaging experience for each patient and family member. I then evolved to the Chief Marketing Officer…(my) marketing strategy generated over a $100 million in net revenue in seven months. We then made the decision to merge Vanguard with Tenet in July 2013 and became the second largest health system (by revenue).
 
I stayed on for a few months, but during that time, I lost my best friend to stage four colon cancer. Through this painful journey, I made the decision I was going to keep his legacy living by dedicating my work in cancer care, but I didn’t know exactly how. I then talked with the new President & CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), Gerard van Grinsven, a gentlemen I used to consult for when I was at Gallup. I strongly believe in the mission of CTCA and I show up every day as a legacy for my best friend.  

What do you love about health care?
Health care is a business that’s incredibly emotional. We are alongside people during the best and worst experiences of their lives. The beauty in what I do is, I get to positively impact each of those incredible emotional experiences. I don’t know many other businesses that are as meaningful as health care, and I love that.
 
How does your double degree in biology and biochemistry make the way you do HR different from others?
I look at HR and talent from a perspective of constant experiential based learning, experimenting with new innovative ideas and approaches, and analytics: everything we do must be measured.
 
Part of your previous role at Vanguard Health System was as a Chief Marketing Officer, but you also covered culture and experience at the company. In your view, how do marketing and HR interact?
I look at culture, HR and talent aligning with two major areas of the organization – one is growth, the other is strategy. At Vanguard, I had the blessing of bringing a focus to both talent/culture and growth.  This allowed me to embed organic growth into the culture as a key priority; something we all were focused on. If you focus on building a world class culture, with world class employees, they will deliver a world class patient experience, which will ultimately drive the financial results.
 
Now that you’re working with the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, how do you think the role will differ from what you’ve done in the past?
CTCA has an amazing culture founded and centered around the patient.  It’s the perfect environment to build a world class talent-based organization that will continually support our patient experience and provide exceptional care. I love the opportunity to help in this effort and see it as an opportunity to unleash human potential; and to inspire, engage, and drive fulfillment, both personally and professionally for all the employees at CTCA. The one discipline that will never change is focus on the organization’s best asset – our employees (who we call stakeholders) as they are essential in caring for our patients.
 
With a background like yours, you must be fairly well informed when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle. How do you stay active and healthy as a busy professional?
I am a runner. I love to get outside and run. My favorite running events are the Ragnar relays. They are a blast: great exercise and great teamwork in these 200 mile relays.
 
This conversation has been edited and condensed.

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