African-American Partnership Member, Michael D. Brown
Vice President, Human Resources
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Georgia
AAP: Tell us about your role at Kaiser Permanente and how you impact the company’s strategic goals.
Michael: I am accountable for the design and execution of the Human Capital Strategy for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the state’s largest nonprofit health plan. The organization has 4,000 health care workers, 26 medical centers, contact centers and administrative offices. My key accountabilities involve delivering Human Resources solutions to the business, including: culture design, change management, succession and talent development, learning and organization effectiveness, employee engagement, equity, inclusion and diversity, workforce planning, employee wellness, employee relations, and labor relations.
AAP: What are your suggestions for individuals who are interested in a career in healthcare?
Michael: I can’t think of a better industry than health care to start a rewarding career. It is a well-known fact that health care costs in America are too high and unsustainable. And health care may be the single most important issue facing us today. Becoming a health care professional not only gives you the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives but you can also be a part of the innovative and progressive thinking that will help change the system and move us forward. At Kaiser Permanente, we believe all Americans should have access to affordable and quality health care. We are looking for professionals who are ready to take the journey with us and be a part of the bold moves that will transform health care as we know it.
AAP: How have you seen the role of human resources within a company evolve during your career?
Michael: Since 2000 when I started my career there has been a steady transformation of human resources from an administrative support function to a strategic and consultative business partner. Increasingly, human resources professionals are counted on to solve business problems and lead large-scale change management. Many companies have realized – and rightfully so – that people are their most important assets. As a result, the smart companies are investing in the development of their people at all levels of the organization; and they look to human resources to create systems and process to identify and cultivate the talent.
AAP: Why is philanthropy important? How do you give back to the community?
Michael: I realize that I have benefited greatly from the generosity and benevolence of others. From the local small businesses that sponsored my youth sports teams, to the charitable donations of individuals who covered the cost of my college ACT and SAT preparation classes, I have been given opportunity, exposure, and education that I may not have otherwise been afforded. I give back through volunteering as a coach. My win-lost record would not suggest that I have a future in coaching, but I try to make it fun for the kids and help instill basic life skills and lessons. I also participate on local boards. Although I have only been living in the metropolitan Atlanta area for less than two years I am a proud board member of the Andrew & Walter Young Family YMCA. I have also joined my colleagues in the Kaiser Permanente African American Professional Association business resource group in supporting various United Way African American Partnership events.
AAP: AAP is building libraries where youth play and learn, what is your favorite book and why?
Michael: The Game of Life and How to Play It, by Florence Scovel Shinn. It’s one of the more recent books that I’ve read. It is a short book, less than 100 pages. It is filled with messages about thinking and speaking positively. The simple and powerful messages in the book apply to anyone, at any age, and any stage in life. I recommend it to anyone who wants a positive mindset.