HFS’s board of directors elected Trahan H. Whitten to CEO, effective January 1, 2013. Richard Gianello will continue as president of the firm, heading up the accounting functions and administrative team. Gianello co-founded the company in 1991 with Steven Rousso.
“Trahan Whitten has exceptional management qualities and deep industry knowledge, making him uniquely qualified to lead HFS successfully into the future,” says Rousso, who is chairman of HFS’s board of directors. “He has distinguished himself with his results-driven leadership style.”
“Electing Trahan to the CEO role is in line with our future plans,” says Gianello. “HFS is experiencing significant growth, and the appointment of Trahan is a testimony to our success and strategic direction.”
Whitten worked for HFS as one of its first employees, but he left in 1993 to work for a large public accounting firm.
He returned to HFS in 2008 as director of the Government Programs and Reimbursement services practice area. He is an industry leader in reimbursement strategy validation and implementation, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic financial management.
Whitten’s career path includes leading KPMG’s West Coast division followed by becoming the national managing partner of Ernst & Young’s government programs, reimbursement and compliance service lines in the United States. He was a three-time recipient of the National Outstanding Practice Leadership award; and in 2004 he received both the National Innovation and Distinguished Mentor awards.
Whitten has a master’s degree in business administration from Colorado State University and a bachelor of science degree from the University of Utah.
We sat down with Whitten in late January when he was three weeks into his new role to talk with him about HFS and what he envisions for the firm.
Congratulations on being named CEO. Any comments regarding your new role?
I am humbled and excited about the opportunity HFS shareholders have given me. I am honored to lead this outstanding organization of professionals who have exemplary credentials and are some of the brightest, most talented people in our industry. The quality of their work is a key strength of HFS. I am committed to ensuring that HFS meets its mission and core values as it has been doing since 1991.
Explain how your background has prepared you for the CEO role.
As a partner at public accounting firms, I was provided with a good education and training on how to run profitable programs. For me, it was like getting a Ph.D. in consulting. I know the importance of focusing on the people around me, both employees and clients. By doing that, success follows.
Have there been other influences on your leadership philosophy?
A great deal of my leadership philosophy comes from the book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, which was recommended to me early in my career. It examines various companies and lessons learned from those who execute well. It presents a discipline for meshing strategy with reality, aligning people with goals and achieving the promised results, all of which I work to adhere to and see as a major job of business leaders.
What do you look forward to as CEO?
I look forward to seeing that our clients are served well, with a focus on quality and compliance. I want our clients to know that we are a consulting firm with close to 100 employees, and we successfully impact how healthcare providers run their organizations and facilities. Our tagline says it all: “Complete Solutions for Healthcare Management.”
What is your vision for the company?
The company’s growth and success make it perfectly positioned at this time to move from a small company to a mid-sized firm, while at the same time maintaining its current culture and commitment to clients. We are flexible enough to adjust and adapt quickly to the continuing changes in the healthcare industry.