Amidst HR Reorganization, Kim Dorer Launches Spectrum Health University

Before Kim Dorer took the role of director of Spectrum Health University in January 2012, she had not specifically worked within learning and development. Dorer had, however, spent more than two decades in a variety of human resources role within the Spectrum Health system, including HR generalist, HR manager and director of talent management.

Dorer was asked by CHRO Roger Jansen to take on the job of launching Spectrum Health University following her proven leadership in other HR areas. Still, when Dorer was offered the position, it took her some time to take the leap.

"I wasn't sure I'd be comfortable," Dorer said. "Roger told me, 'You don't have to do it, you have to lead it,' and then I knew I had to give it a try."

In the intervening year and a half, Dorer has surrounded herself with learning and training experts, including the two university's two managers, Amber Anderson and Rebecca Chandler, and gotten up to speed with the latest trends in leadership development.

Dorer said one of her personal leadership strategies is to make people feel like they're part of an elite club by working at Spectrum Health University.

"We've been approached as being the culture HR wants to see going forward," Dorer said. "In the midst of the massive upheaval and transformational change we went through, this group not only delivered, but did it with a demeanor, a sense of humor and an attitude that was envied by the rest of the group."

It's been less than a year since Spectrum Health University launched it's first program, but the university has received much support from senior leadership. "When Roger comes through our floor and stops at Kim's desk and they talk about new program ideas, his response is always the same," Anderson said. "He says, 'I'm not worried about you guys. Everything you're doing is going well.'"

To achieve such success in a short period of time necessitates a willingness to try different things and take risks.

"I've worked at globally renowned brands, and to be quite honest, they're not doing the things we're able to do here because Kim let's us bring out our best ideas and fully supports them," Chandler said.

"We've been able to take healthcare, an industry traditionally far behind others in L&D, and leapfrogged ahead of other industries in terms of leadership development."