Brent Cherne, Seasoned Healthcare Executive

Brent Cherne - An Interview With a Seasoned Healthcare Executive

Brent Cherne – A seasoned healthcare executive, I have worked in a variety of settings as CFO, Controller or VP of Finance. While I definitely see the big picture, I’m also known for being a detail-oriented team player and I don’t miss deadlines. I’m a good communicator, humble, honest and ethical.

I believe in the servant leader model and am just as comfortable working closely with (and am trusted by) frontline staff as with middle and senior level management. I’m sought out by non-financial managers who are working on their budgets or a capital project, are interpreting monthly financial statements or deciphering productivity stats.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m a finance executive (CPA) with many years of experience in the healthcare field. I’m a husband and father and enjoy travel, skiing and scuba diving. But I also enjoy helping others and seeing the joy it brings them, whether that is one of my children or the homeless person on the street. I believe this life is about what we can do for others and not just about ourselves.

What makes you different than other professionals in your field?

The depth of experience I have in so many healthcare venues makes me unique as a senior finance executive. Areas of experience include hospital CFO work (from Critical Access Hospitals to large regional medical centers), surgery center development and management, imaging center development, medical clinic financial management, greenfield projects, start-ups and major renovations. In addition, I’ve served on boards of companies in the following fields: hospice/home health, medical air transport, Accountable Care Organization, acute care hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers.

What has been the most important part of your professional journey?

Learning people skills and recognizing that every member of an organization plays an integral part. It’s all about the people, including both your customers and your employees.

What are the projects you enjoy working on the most?

Anything finance related works for me including developing pro-formas, budgeting, the monthly close process, developing and implementing cost-saving programs, teaching non-finance managers how to understand and act upon their financial reports, etc.

How would you measure success in your role?

Typically it would be measured by achieving or exceeding the budgeted margin, but I would go further and say that I view success to also include having fun while accomplishing those goals, and not just me but all the people involved as well. As the saying goes, all boats need to rise, meaning that we don’t achieve our goals by walking over others and hurting their goals.

What takes up too much of your time?

Committee meetings.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become financial executives?

First, get your CPA license even if you don’t plan to practice as a CPA. That piece of paper can open many opportunities that otherwise would not be available. Second, go ahead and get that MBA since you are most of the way there once you have your CPA. Many senior finance positions in companies require an MBA. And third, don’t take yourself too seriously when you achieve that Controller or CFO title. A good working relationship with others will go a lot further to achieve what you need to accomplish than heavy-handedness or high-mindedness.

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

I’m amazed at the variety of businesses that Elon Musk has started and been quite successful at, especially given how young he is. Anyone of his accomplishments would be considered quite a career but he’s developed so many. Another person that impresses me is Richard Branson. He has similar accomplishments as Musk, by variety and quantity.

When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?

Visiting a daughter in Norway this past summer we took a boat ride up one of the long and winding fjords. The scenery with waterfalls, quaint villages and people in traditional dress was so far from my daily life. Easy to get lost in it…

What drives you to keep going when it’s really tough?

My faith. I’m a Christ follower and believe that all things will work out for the good eventually. If I focus not on my difficult situation but instead on how I can help others with much worse problems than my own then that keeps me balanced.

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