EDITORS: Wojtalewicz is pronounced Wad-a-le’vich
By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – Jeanette Wojtalewicz credits her success in finance to taking risks and learning from failures.
Wojtalewicz, chief financial officer for Catholic Health Initiatives – CHI Health, is the Ron Landstrom Executive-in-Residence at the University of Nebraska at Kearney for 2016. She will present, “Keep the Door Open – Life After UNK,” at 11 a.m. Sept. 22 in the Nebraskan Student Union Ponderosa Room. The presentation is partially funded by the JA Baldwin Free Enterprise Lecture Series.
The Ron Landstrom Executive-in-Residence program brings successful business executives to campus to talk with College of Business and Technology students about “best business practices,” as well as their personal career paths and lessons learned.
These executives engage students in several classes, make campus presentations on their areas of expertise and participate in a session with the CBT Student Advisory Board and faculty. They also participate in a networking opportunity with members of the Business Advisory Board.
“Part of my message to students will be to keep the doors open as you’re getting your education, to get engaged and to accept invitations to be involved. Getting out of your comfort zone every once in a while is important because it’s amazing what you’ll learn,” Wojtalewicz said.
“In my career, as painful as it is to go down a road and have it not work out, that is the greatest learning opportunity. Failures are gifts in disguise as long as you use them as learning opportunities.”
Her presentation will focus on self-confidence, life-long learning, stepping outside your comfort zone to grow and finding balance in life.
Wojtalewicz, who grew up in Humphrey, graduated from Kearney State College in 1984 with a degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting.
“I’ve always loved finance and math. I took an accounting course in high school and just loved it. I also like the creative side of business,” she said. “I feel like I use both my right brain and left brain. I think in business you have to have that balance. There was something about accounting that just spoke to me.”
She credits the encouragement, support and guidance from professors such as Ron Landstrom with her ability to grow in her career.
“Having that background and that knowledge base jumpstarted me in my public accounting career. It’s really been the underpinning of my ability to continue to grow in my career over the years,” she said.
“I didn’t realize the potential that I had, but my professors saw things in me that I didn’t at the time. They pushed me and made me work hard, and that made such a difference. They believed in me, they took time for me and they pushed me beyond my comfort zone.”
Wojtalewicz transitioned into the medical field, in part, because of advice from her professors. They suggested that she work as a certified public accountant to discover what industry she liked best.
She worked for Seim, Johnson, Sestak & Quist, a public accounting firm in Omaha that worked with many clients in the health care industry.
“That gave me an opportunity to do auditing, consulting and perform analysis for hospitals across the state of Nebraska. I really just found my calling to be in the health care field,” she said. “I knew I could never be a nurse or a doctor, but supporting the business side of health care had a huge appeal to me.”
Wojtalewicz got her start in health care at Clarkson Hospital in Omaha as director of finance. She also served as director of finance for Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, director of accounting for the Nebraska Hospital Association in Lincoln and chief financial officer for Orchard Place-Child Guidance Center.
She began working for Catholic Health Initiative in 1999 as vice president of finance and the chief financial officer for Saint Elizabeth Health System. In 2008, she became the chief financial officer for CHI Nebraska, where she was responsible for a $900 million operating revenue. She was accountable for four hospitals, foundations, a physician network, a home care agency and multiple joint ventures.
“I work for a Catholic health care company now, Catholic Health Initiative, a faith-based organization meeting the needs of the vulnerable and underserved, and it connects with my values and desire to serve,” she said.
She has worked for CHI Health for 18 years now. She now serves as CFO of CHI Health, a $2.2 billion company comprised of 15 hospitals, two physical enterprises with 750 physicians and a clinically-integrated network along with several foundations and numerous joint ventures.
“The medical field is complex and constantly changing. There’s never a moment of boredom. You’ll never know it all because of the regulatory changes and the significant amount of money that people spend on health care. It’s a job that will keep you on your toes,” she said. “I like the complexity and I like to be challenged. There’s never a dull moment.”
As CFO, Wojtalewicz completed a finance transformation to centralize and standardize statewide finance functions resulting in a $2.4 million annual savings. She also lead the implementation of a $101 million financial improvement plan including revenue growth and expense reduction strategies, including the reduction of $22 million in overhead costs.
“The health care costs across the country – and Nebraska is no exception – are spiraling out of control,” Wojtalewicz said. “CHI Health is really looking at how we can change health care and how we can transition from the old model of taking care of sick people to changing how health care is provided so we’re providing an environment that keeps people well and that keeps people out of the hospital.
“We’re really focusing on changing health care for the future because it’s just flat out too expensive. We want people to be well.”
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, email@example.com
Source: Marsha Yeagley, 308.746.8345, firstname.lastname@example.org