Phillips, DiPisa & Associates Finds CFO for Spectrum Health

Phillips, DiPisa CFO Spectrum Health Matthew Cox

February 1, 2018 – Phillips, DiPisa & Associates, an executive search firm serving the healthcare sector, has placed Matthew Cox as the new senior vice president and chief financial officer of Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, MI. He replaces Ron Knaus who recently retired. Partner Michael Corey led the assignment. Mr. Cox will lead the finance team and assume financial responsibilities for Spectrum Health and its subsidiaries.

“Matt Cox has had a distinguished career in health care financial leadership with extensive experience in multi-faceted health systems,” said Richard C. Breon, president and CEO of Spectrum Health. “Additionally, he has diverse experience in areas that Spectrum Health has identified as opportunities for growth such as consumerism and the customer experience. We are pleased and excited to welcome him to our leadership team.”

Proven Experience

Mr. Cox’s background in healthcare finance is wide ranging. He has participated in the formation of joint ventures for insurance products, imaging centers, rehabilitation facilities and surgery centers; led the development of physician compensation models to improve quality, productivity and profitability; implemented financial improvement and restructuring programs; and led the financial turnaround of several health systems.

Most recently, Mr. Cox was SVP of finance operations at Banner Health in Phoenix, AZ. In that role, he provided oversight to 29 hospitals across six states, including academic and trauma centers, children’s, rural and suburban hospitals, 2,400 employed physicians, post-acute and pharmacy operations and a number of joint health care ventures. Previously, he served as CFO of Dignity Health Arizona Service Area, which includes St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, home of the Barrow Neurosurgical Institute, and a teaching partnership with Creighton University School of Medicine. There, he also served as board chair of Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care Health Plan and served in committee leadership positions for Mercy Care Plan, joint venture health plans of Dignity and Ascension with revenues of approximately $2 billion. He also served as CFO and treasurer of Central Maine Healthcare.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals.

Inside the Search

Mr. Corey has more than 20 years of senior-level executive search experience in community healthcare systems, academic medical centers, medical group management, associations and leadership for not-for-profit organizations. As a former hospital COO, he draws from his extensive knowledge of the healthcare industry to serve clients.

With expertise in academic, community, faith-based, and specialty healthcare organizations, he offers his clients talent management insight and an extensive network of healthcare leaders. Mr. Corey has led CFO searches for Catholic Health Initiatives, CHI Memorial Healthcare System, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Recently, Mr. Corey sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the search and some of the challenges that await the incoming leader. Here are some excerpts from that interview.


Michael CoreyMichael, what type of leader was spectrum health seeking?

Spectrum Health has only had two CFOs in the past 20 years. The main theme of this recruitment was to find a leader who was transformational and able to see the broad needs of an integrated health system. They were looking for someone who understood both the health plan side and the delivery system side (both hospitals and employed medical group as well as a large number of private practitioners that use Spectrum Health facilities) and someone who had experience collaborating with a medical school. The candidate needed to be someone who could embrace change and think differently about how care will be delivered in the future and help position the organization for potential partnerships, affiliations, mergers and acquisitions. The ideal candidate would be someone who was committed to the highest quality in patient care, smart growth and innovation.

“CFOs have been in high demand in the past year due to a large number of retirements and some mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, some CFOs have transitioned into COO and CEO roles, thereby increasing demand for seasoned financial executives.”

What made Matthew Cox the right fit for the Spectrum Health role?

The first key factor was the breadth of Matt’s experience and success with financial oversight of multihospital systems as well as experience working with and oversight of health plans and experience successfully financially managing employed medical groups. Additionally, his experience with joint ventures, mergers/acquisitions, partnerships and affiliations was seen as providing Spectrum with an important skill-set and track record. Another key factor was Matt’s match with the Spectrum Health culture. His leadership style could best be described as highly collaborative, inclusive, innovative, transformational and inspirational. These were some of the key competencies/ qualities Spectrum sought as a fit with their culture. Finally, Matt’s Midwest demeanor, executive presence and professionalism were most attractive attributes to the team and board.

What are some of the duties and challenges that he faces in his new role?

The main duty of the new CFO is to be the financial steward of the organization’s resources, a partner to the CEO and board in the financial strategy/ execution of that strategy and the positioning of Spectrum Health for long term viability and growth. Other duties include maintaining the financial integrity and stability of the system. Matt will also help position the organization for change and growth and have a plan for responding to future changes/ disruptions in healthcare reimbursement models including alternative revenue sources and investments. Another challenge is the fact that he is joining a long-tenured team of peer executives, and as such, establishing credibility quickly is imperative. Another complicating factor or challenge in the recruitment was the fact that halfway through the search process, the CEO of the system announced his proposed retirement in early 2019. Thus, the CFO candidate needed to be comfortable and confident that the person who he was coming to report to would be gone in 13 months and a new CEO would be appointed.

What’s driving the intense demand for proven CFOs?

CFOs have been in high demand in the past year due to a large number of retirements and some mergers and acquisitions. Additionally, some CFOs have transitioned into COO and CEO roles, thereby increasing demand for seasoned financial executives. Finally, when organizations struggle financially the CFO is usually one of the first executive positions in which a board or CEO will make a change. Or, in the case of new leadership, the new CEO may want to bring in a CFO whom they know and are comfortable with.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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