2013 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Karin W. Sarratt

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sarratt-6-15col.jpg Karin W. Sarratt (IBJ Photo/Eric Learned)

As a health care professional in a time of much debate and confusion, Karin Sarratt is used to answering a lot of questions.

“At work or a cocktail party or at the soccer field, there’s always questions,” she said. “I happen to live next to a doctor and we were chatting last week at the mailbox about the impact of the Affordable Care Act for him and his clients.”

Rather than seeing those interactions as intrusions, Sarratt sees them as part of her job. Communication is key—especially if you have a leadership role at one of the largest U.S. health insurers.

“We have to be ambassadors,” she said. “You want people asking about your company. It’s a role I’m all too happy to play.”

It’s quite a role change for Sarratt, who took a key role with WellPoint in 2012 after 15 years working for Memphis-based International Paper, where she had just taken an assignment in Brussels, Belgium, overseeing human relations for a region spanning Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia.

“I think this was our 12th move,” she said. “I’ve lost count.”

At WellPoint, she takes the lead on work-force cultural strategies, managing a $61.8 million budget and more than 462 full-time employees for the Fortune 500 company. Her responsibilities include succession planning, management and leadership development, performance management, learning and recruitment, and talent retention.

In her short time in the position, she’s created a new purpose statement for the company, accelerated staffing plans for public and private insurance exchanges, leveraged more than $20 million in investments for technical skill training to support the transformation of her business, offered more than 7,000 courses, launched a career-building site for in-house tools and training, and instituted programs yielding nearly $1 million in savings over three years.

She admits the learning curve was steep.

“We had to train a significant number of existing associates and hire and prepare almost 2-1/2 times the number of people we had year over year,” she said, sounding more enthusiastic than exhausted. “I certainly haven’t mastered the health care industry. But I learn every day that there’s something new and exciting.”

As someone looking to attract talent to her company, she’s excited about being on the steering committee of Indianapolis Downtown Inc.’s Velocity project.

“It’s great to have a hand in that,” she said. “To see how it’s being embraced by the community at large and by the people who live, work and play downtown.”

Her first mentor wasn’t a doctor or insurance professional.

“It started with my high school track coach,” she said. “I was a quarter-mile hurdler, quarter-mile relay. And he just had a great way of being an encourager and stretching me beyond what I thought I was capable of. That’s what great mentors do.”

“Not only do I enjoy it,” she said of mentoring, both formally and informally. “I feel responsible and accountable. I think it’s required for anyone who aspires to be a great leader.”•


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  1. A couple of issues need some clarification especially since my name was on the list. I am not sure how this information was obtained and from where. For me, the amount was incorrect to begin with and the money does not come to me personally. I am guessing that the names listed are the Principal Investigators (individual responsible for the conduct of the trail) for the different pharmaceutical trials and not the entity which receives the checks. In my case, I participate in Phase II and Phase III trials which are required for new drug development. Your article should differentiate the amount of money received for consulting, for speaking fees, and for conduct of a clinical trial for new drug development. The lumping of all of these categories may give the reader a false impression of physicians just trying to get rich. The Sunshine Law may help to differentiate these categories in the future. The public should be aware that the Clinical Trial Industry could be a real economic driver for Indiana since these revenues supports jobs and new job creation. Nationally, this account for 10-20 billion which our State is missing out on to a large degree. Yes, new drug and technology development has gotten most of the attention (e.g. CTSI, BioCrossroads, etc.) However, serious money is being left on the table by not participating in the clinical trials to get those new drugs and medical devices on the market!!!! I guess that this is not sexy enough for academia.

  2. The address given for the Goldfish Swim Club is the Ace Hardware, is it closing?

  3. Out of state management and ownership. If Kite controlled it, everything would be leased. Of course, due to the roundabout, there is limited access to the south side of 116th now also. Just have to go down to the light.

  4. Hey smudge, You're opposed to arresting people for minor crimes? Sounds great! We should only focus on murders and such, right? Let's stand around and wait until someone shoots someone before we act. Whatever we do, we should never question anyone, frisk anyone, or arrest anyone unless they are actively engaged in shooting or stabbing. Very sound!

  5. You guys are being really rude to gays in the comments. (Not all of you, I presume). You need to stop it. Gays have just as much of a right to marry as straight people do. It's not fair how you guys are denying them equal rights. They're acting more human than you'll ever be. We obviously haven't matured since the bible was last updated. Hate the sin, not the sinner. You've all committed a sin at least once in your life. You've lied, you've stolen, etc. (Those are just possibilities). We should have a planet for people that support gay rights and a planet for people that don't. Then, gay people could get married without you bigots interfering with their love life. How would you feel if straights couldn't get married? How would you feel if teenagers were afraid to come out to their parents as straight? If straight people got hate everywhere they went? If straight people were afraid to go out in public, because they feared being judged? It's never going to happen at the rate society is going. You haven't seen the side of me where I act obscene. You're glad my inner demon hasn't been released. I would, but oh no, my comment would be removed because of my very strong emotions about this subject. I love gays, and love how they show their affection for each other. I just ADORE how a state is going to give same-sex couples a marriage license, then changes their mind. (I was obviously being sarcastic there). I just LOVE how society thinks gays are an abomination to our society. You're caring about marriage between two men or two women. That's a small thing. Just grow up, and let them marry. Let them live their lives. You can't make them change their sexuality. You can't make them change their lifestyle. In my opinion, gays are more than welcome to marry. Please, grow up and realize that people should be allowed to marry, even if it's same-sex marriage. You guys are saying that "the bible said gay marriage is wrong." Well, guess what else is wrong? Read Matthew:7 and you'll find out. (I am in no way breaking that. I am saying a fact). I'm stating that gays have just as much of a right to marry as straights do. (: