Ekta Vyas, PhD, MS, joined Keck Medicine of USC in July 2022 as the organization’s new chief human resources officer.

Since then, Vyas has begun overseeing the development and execution of human resources strategies in support of Keck Medicine’s employees, mission and goals.

At the start of 2023, Vyas shared her vision for this role and how she plans to approach it in a time of continuing growth for the health system.

What is involved with your new position at Keck Medicine?

Anything that shapes an employee’s time here, as well as workforce strategies throughout the health system. As chief human resources officer, I’m focused on the hire-through-retire journey of our employees.

The better their experiences are here, the more competitive our position will be in the talent market, which is good not only for the organization as a whole, but also our faculty, staff and patients as well.

A big part of this is identifying where we gain and lose talent, as well as enhancing the culture and work experience for employees and leadership alike.

Finally, HR has a key role in expanding our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. We just hired our inaugural chief diversity and inclusion officer, Shannon Bradley, to advance these efforts within the organization and its affiliates.

What is your personal approach to the job?

I make sure to stay flexible, since I never know what the day will bring or which of my skills will be needed.

To serve Keck Medicine as a whole, I rely on my strategic skills and comprehensive knowledge of the health care industry’s current climate.

It’s important to me to grasp the intricacies of academic medical institutions and how they affect employees. This regularly leads to asking myself important questions, such as how I can drive staff engagement even further, or how I might bring Keck Medicine’s goals and our workers’ goals closer together.

HR also works with Keck Medicine’s legal department, so I make sure to bear in mind that health care is a heavily regulated industry — compliance is a huge part of our culture. Aside from helping to communicate the rules and best practices our staff must follow, our departments also work together in maintaining excellent employee relations.

What role does HR play in Keck Medicine’s position in the health care industry?

The first thing to consider is that HR strategies have a significant impact on the bottom line of any organization. Disengaged workforces and high turnover can result in significant costs.

To prevent such losses, it’s vital to stay keyed into the current climate of the industry to make sure employees feel confident in the organization and the role they play within it.

The health care industry is ready for widespread innovation so that it can continue to meet the needs of the public as effectively as possible.

Since everything that affects the health care industry impacts us as well, recruiting and keeping exceptional talent is integral to continuing innovations that help patients, the organization and its workforce.

Could you share some of your top goals for the year?

One goal is to continue bringing USC Arcadia Hospital’s employees into the fold here at Keck Medicine. We’re starting with a master planning session to discuss how their current workforce and culture can combine with ours in a way that benefits everyone.

Our dedication to the organization’s employee culture and sense of engagement cannot be overemphasized — we’ve done well so far with several new initiatives to strengthen this aspect of working at Keck Medicine.

Lastly, it bears repeating that diversity, equity and inclusion strategies are a major goal for me.

I believe all of this will establish a strengthened HR department, which will maintain effective strategies already in place while crafting new ones to help Keck Medicine continue to evolve.

Keck Medicine wouldn’t be here without the wide-ranging contributions of its employees. In return, we’re committed to growing, maintaining and supporting our workforce as effectively as possible.

—Michael Juliani