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. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.