Profile: Christine Power
President and CEO, Capital District Health Authority
WHAT SETS HER APART
Christine provides executive leadership for Capital District and oversees an operating budget of $830 million
Inducted to the Hall of Fame for the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada
Total employees responsible for: 12,000
Raymond P. LeBlanc, professor emeritus with Dalhousie University’s department of ophthamology and visual sciences in Halifax
From Raymond P. LeBlanc
As told to Astrid Van Den Broek
I hired Christine as head nurse for the new eye department I was running back in the 1980s at the Halifax Infirmary [now Capital Health]. I could see even back then that she demonstrated great leadership and I always admired that she made it a point to know what every person in the unit did, sometimes by helping them do their job. She would replace the clerk at lunchtime, for example, so she knew what it was like to come up to the reception desk. Or she’d help the filing clerk with putting away patient charts at the end of the day.
Over the years, she’s worked in progressively more responsible leadership roles in Halifax and at Trillium Health Centre in Mississauga, Ont., and in 2006, she became president and CEO of Capital Health Nova Scotia in Halifax.
You should know the healthcare sector is not exactly the easiest sector to be an executive of at the moment: expectations, resources, micromanagement from government, lack of collaborative approaches from across the country… those are some of the issues to deal with. Part of senior management’s challenge is keeping the board involved, so that they know the general direction of the organization, but also keeping them at arm’s length from the day-to-day operations because that’s not their job. Board members get in the way if you allow them to get into the weeds, and Chris is quite adept at managing that.
It’s impressive the way she works with people—she’ll take lots of advice or listen to different perspectives to see what people have to say. She’s open to everyone’s point of view. At the same time, she’s got unique ways to emphasize teamwork. For instance, she started a “regifting” tradition with senior management.
Let’s say we have a new team member. On their first day, all the existing team members would put together a big basket full of items for the new member as a sort of “office warming.” But it was best to pick out the most awful thing in your office to put into the basket—for example, Chris passed on a pair of boxing gloves she had received when she became the CEO. It was a humour break and you laugh about it, but it’s a tradition that creates comradeship, and that’s not often found with physicians. That all started with her.