On June 22, Chris Allen transitioned from his role as executive administrator for financial planning and decision support at Keck Medicine of USC to serve as the health system’s interim chief financial officer. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Allen brings more than 20 years of finance leadership experience to the position.

Allen first joined Keck Medicine in 2016. Since then, he has been responsible for administrative oversight for the health system’s financial planning, processes and services. In his new role, Allen will develop and direct strategic financial plans, as well as lead governmental reporting, budgeting, materials management and physician planning. He will also collaborate on programs for increased funding.

Allen recently spoke more in-depth about his career and shared what keeps him inspired and rejuvenated.

How did you get started in health care finance work?

When I was in college, my mother asked the director of finance at her hospital if there were any openings for finance interns during the summer. By my senior year of college, I was offered a job as a cost analyst after graduation, and the rest is 28 years of history. I have stayed in health care my entire career and have worked hard to offer caregivers the resources needed to provide the highest quality of care.

What is your personal philosophy on leadership and management? 

My personal philosophy has been shaped by many leaders I have worked with. First and foremost, I believe in teamwork — much like a sports team where players, coaches and assistants all play a part in making a team excellent. Each person may play a different role, but without each person doing their job the best they can, the team doesn’t work. So, as a leader I see my role as making sure the team understands direction and expected outcomes, but also that they have what they need to be as effective as possible. It’s my job to support and provide coaching, but also to let people have opportunities to learn and grow.   

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I believe the most challenging part of being in an interim role, similar to a player coming off the bench, is to give 100% effort for the time you step in. The challenge is to know what to focus on and to make sure the team feels supported, but also to sustain an environment where they can continue to pursue and accomplish the amazing work they have been doing. It’s also important to not get wrapped up in what you can’t do because you are in this interim position. You have to focus on what needs to get done.

You’ve just had a long work week at the office and now find yourself with a completely free Saturday with nothing on the schedule. How do you spend the day?

If it’s the fall season, it would be watching college football with my girlfriend Lauren. Any other time of year, I’m listening to music and relaxing, watching a movie or reading a book.

Who is someone that you admire, and why?

I would say Denzel Washington. I admire how he never gave up on his dream to act and never let anyone tell him he couldn’t do it. His relentless pursuit of his goal to be the best no matter how many times he tried and failed has been very inspiring.

What is something about you that people might not know?

When I was in high school, I spent two weeks at a resort in Florida. There, I met and hung out with Joe Biden and his sons.

— Matt Vasiliauskas