Workday Rising Daily: More Inspiring Stories From Our Customer Community

In our final edition of the Workday Rising Daily, read inspiring stories from leaders in financial services, healthcare, higher education, the public sector, and more. Also discover discussions at Workday Rising on the latest in ESG initiatives, women in finance, employee experience, and effective financial planning.

Welcome back to our fourth and final edition of the Workday Rising Daily! We have more great stories to share with you from Workday Rising about how leaders in finance, human resources, and information technology are driving meaningful change for their organizations. Read on for inspiration from leaders in a variety of industries, including financial services, healthcare, higher education, and the public sector.

In addition, we recap discussions about environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives, women in finance, employee experience, and effective financial planning and analysis, and more.

Workday employees welcome customers as they arrive at the Workday Rising Welcome Keynote on Monday.


ESG Is Front and Center

The ESG conversation is speeding up. That was the takeaway from a conversation between Workday Co-Founder, Co-CEO, and Chairman Aneel Bhusri and Alan Murray, CEO at Fortune Media, during an Executive Symposium event at Workday Rising.

Speaking about his new book, “Tomorrow's Capitalist: My Search for the Soul of Business,” Murray said the pandemic accelerated an emphasis on stakeholder capitalism, putting ESG topics front and center for many organizations. Noting he has covered business for the better part of four decades, Murray said he was nonetheless surprised by a shift toward long-term sustainability that was prompted in large part by employees.

Murray noted that the balance sheets of a vast majority of Fortune 500 companies have shifted from physical capital to intangibles, meaning that people are now a firm’s greatest asset.

“We’re going to spend the 21st century figuring out how to build more human-centric businesses,” he said. “That’s what’s driving most of these things we’re talking about.”

Alan Murray, CEO at Fortune Media, signs a copy of his new book for a Workday Rising attendee.

How Sanford Health Uses Employee Sentiment Insights Gained Through Peakon

A merger with a long-term care system almost doubled the size of several IT teams, and a pivot toward transforming back-office applications led the incoming CIO at Sanford Health to say, “I really wish to know what our people are thinking,” recalled Erik Jensen, senior director, technology at Sanford Health, at the session, “Workday Peakon Employee Voice: What Your Workforce Wishes You Knew.”

The simple desire kicked off Sanford Health’s journey with Workday Peakon Employee Voice.  

“That’s what really drove it,” Jensen said. “How can we help ensure that we are having good synergies coming together, we are getting the right people engaged in the right work, and that our employees are feeling valued, listened to, and want to be here.”

At the session, Jensen shared how Sanford Health used the sentiment insights gained from Workday Peakon Employee Voice to take action that supported their employees.

“Our teams that have higher than average Peakon scores, they're operating with less turnover than teams in the bottom half,” he said. “We have seen correlation between higher engagement and lower turnover.”

For example, Peakon offers a management support score. So for newer managers, company leaders can help understand how to support them and quickly head off potential problems. 

“It acts as an opportunity to have conversations,” Jensen said.

Another action Sanford Health took based on Workday Peakon Employee Voice feedback was to partner with HR on a town hall about total compensation: what total rewards means, what goes in a benefits package, how pay grades by position are calculated, and the national benchmarks that the organization subscribes to. 

“We educated them and walked them through what it all meant,” Jensen said, adding that in the next survey, employee satisfaction around compensation went through the roof.

“We have seen correlation between higher engagement and lower turnover," said Erik Jensen, senior director, technology at Sanford Health.

How Financial Services Companies Can Drive Innovation and Agility

Financial services firms are operating in a challenging environment that requires more agility than ever before, explained Peter Bollini, banking and capital markets leader at PwC, at the financial services industry keynote.  

Bollini believes the pandemic accelerated digital adoption and problem-solving, as many organizations had to quickly become digitally enabled companies. To stay ahead, Bollini said, companies should not “pump the brakes” but continue to invest in their digital transformation and collaborate with people across financial services.  

“What’s made companies most successful in the last 10 years is collaboration,” said Bollini. “Get to know people in the industry and trade thoughts and ideas.”

The pandemic accelerated digital adoption and problem-solving, as many organizations had to quickly become digitally enabled companies, said Peter Bollini, banking and capital markets leader at PwC.


The roles of financial services leaders have also evolved in the past few years. According to Doug Schosser, chief accounting officer at KeyBank, the speed at which people need information has increased.  

“We’re really focused on getting the right information to decision-makers more quickly so they can make informed decisions,” said Schosser. 

A laser focus on timely, accurate information doesn't happen overnight, and change management is becoming a large part of effective financial services leadership. 

According to Steve Zabel, CFO at Unum, replacing their legacy systems with Workday was key as it gave his company many new capabilities, including “single-source forecasting and getting the entire enterprise to think the same way about forecasting performance.”  

Women in Finance: Being an Empathetic Leader

Relationship-building is a key component of leadership, and that requires the ability to forge genuine people connections, according to Nicole Carrillo, executive vice president and chief accounting officer at loanDepot.

“I want to know about you, your family,” she told the audience at the Women in Finance luncheon at Workday Rising. “As managers and as leaders, we have to consider the whole person. That’s being an empathetic leader.”

Workday CFO Barbara Larson moderated a portion of the KPMG-sponsored event with Carrilo, one of several finance leaders who shared stories about their career journeys.

Carrillo described “heat assignments,” including how she led two companies through their initial public offerings, and the importance of mentorships. One mentor, she added, offered coaching as well as courage to broaden her professional experiences. “It’s about the connection that you have with that person who is always going to think of you first.”

Finally, Carrillo said growth isn’t always easy. “You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” she said. “That is how we grow.”

“You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” said Nicole Carrillo, executive vice president and chief accounting officer at loanDepot. "That is how we grow."

When Disruption Arrives (and It Will), Can You Move Fast Enough?

In times of uncertainty, continuous planning rules. It provides financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams a real-time view of the business, and decision-makers the ability to understand what’s happening with the company in the here and now. 

But there is often a need to go beyond continuous planning to an agile process that allows companies to dynamically create plans, execute on that plan, and analyze the results in a single system. As showcased in the session, “Plan, Execute, Analyze for Continuous Recalibration,” by continuously recalibrating you can drive continuous improvement in a three-step virtuous cycle:

1.     Understanding how you are performing and taking action (analyze).

2.     Connecting this analysis to inform your plans (plan).

3.     Collaborating and carrying out the plans (execute).

Attendees learned how the Workday Enterprise Management Cloud brings finance, spend management, human resources, planning, and analytics together, all in a single system. FP&A teams can therefore continuously recalibrate as changes arise. 

The world is changing faster than it ever has. As many businesses have discovered, adopting a culture of continuous recalibration helps unlock that agile future.

Customers arrive at our Customer Appreciation Party at Universal Studios Orlando.

For Higher Education, the Future Starts with Data

To plan for where higher education is going, institutions should first look at the disruption of the past two years. According to Roy Mathew, national practice leader for higher education at Deloitte, the pandemic not only forced colleges to move quickly to continue their missions of learning and community, but also provided the opportunity to break traditional silos and question orthodoxies.   

This sea change will help institutions prepare for future trends, such as catering to the different needs of all learners, meeting the digital expectations of students, and building trust in higher education. One key to preparing for these trends—a hyperfocus on data.  

“It all starts with data,” said Mathew. “It’s about getting the right data into the right hands to make the right decisions at the right time.”

To enable a digital transformation, colleges and universities will also have to lean into change management and prepare their people. “When we say transformation, most people panic because most people are creatures of habit,” said Miloš Topić, vice president of IT and chief digital officer of Grand Valley State University. “But is it better to be in a little discomfort now than be in a world of pain years from now.” 

Modernizing technology and processes will also help institutions meet students where they are, in terms of both the type of device they prefer to learn on and their education journey. This change will level the playing field. “Reaching all learners is extremely important,” said Kristen Constant, vice president and CIO at Iowa State. “We have a number of first-generation learners, and many times they don’t have the support systems or the institutional knowledge to be able to navigate complex systems. Whatever we can do to make it easier and simpler for them, the better.” 

For Kathy Ulibarri, CEO of the Collaboration for Higher Education Shared Services (CHESS), higher ed transformation will free up institutions to focus on their connection to the local workforce and community.  

“We have to innovate together, work together, and get past the competitive nature of our work,” said Ulibarri.

Customers pose for a photo at the Selfie Wall in the Expo Hall at Workday Rising.

Patients Are Front and Center in Healthcare of the Future

“The future of health is happening,” said Mark Perlman, managing director of Deloitte, as he welcomed healthcare leaders from across the country to the healthcare industry keynote. Perlman highlighted how challenges exacerbated by the pandemic have catalyzed the evolution of the healthcare industry. Developments in patient-centric care that were dimly on the horizon in 2020 have accelerated by more than a decade, Perlman said, sending a clear message to healthcare industry leaders: the time for transformation is now.

Perlman estimates around 80% of care today is focused on treating sickness rather than preventing it. To reduce costs and improve the clinical experience, it is imperative that healthcare organizations shift towards promoting health. According to Perlman, organizations that leverage cloud-based technologies such as automation and advanced analytics will be better positioned to drive innovation and enhance patient care in the coming years. 

Leaders from Sentara Healthcare and Northeast Georgia Health System joined Perlman onstage to share their journeys on the path to digital acceleration. Stephanie Schnittger, vice president of corporate finance at Sentara, described Sentara’s previous process as a “quilt of systems” that could not operate as “a single source of truth.” 

By consolidating its disparate legacy systems onto the Workday platform, Sentara has already seen a 65% reduction in its item master and is on the path to reducing its 10-day close to six days, freeing up time and resources for more valuable and strategic activities. Northeast Georgia Health System CIO, Chris Paravate, said that using Workday has increased collaboration between teams like finance and HR to address pressing issues like staffing shortages.

While attendees agreed that patients have always been at the center of healthcare, Perlman noted that legacy systems can often hinder clinicians from delivering proactive care. Cloud-based technology ushers in a new era for healthcare organizations, empowering teams with automation to spend less time on administrative tasks and focus on what really matters: their patients. 

A Workday customer learns about a new product during a demo.

Align Leadership to Drive Public Sector Transformation 

During a public sector keynote session, leaders from the City of Baltimore and Accenture discussed how building shared commitment across different departments reduced silos and led to simplified processes, greater transparency, and cost savings. 

Kicking off the session, Ryan Gaetz, managing director, Accenture, said, “No matter how complex an organization, if we apply small incremental continuous change over time, we’ll have a far greater impact and lasting change in the organization than a single moment will.”

Faced with a devastating ransomware attack in 2019, the City of Baltimore knew it needed to rebuild its IT infrastructure. In addition to shoring up their systems, the city also wanted to drive consistency across more than 40 agencies that had different approaches, eliminate manual processes and paperwork, and provide greater access to data. Quinton Herbert, chief human capital officer, City of Baltimore, said, “We had manual timesheets, and vacation leave slips were triplicate carbon paper. We wanted to get away from that. The ransomware attack served as the impetus for us to move forward.”

Finance, HR, and IT leaders shared a commitment to the transformation, and to each other, to drive the effort. Herbert said, “We made it a point very early on that we were all going to be committed to the project. That this was not an IT project, that this was not an HR project, and this was not a finance project. This was a City of Baltimore project.” Discussing their partnership, Todd Carter, CIO and chief digital officer, City of Baltimore, added, “It allowed us to show top-down, ‘This is how we’re going to work. This is how we’re going to make decisions.’”

Now live on both Workday Human Capital Management and Workday Financial Management, the city is seeing results that include eliminating 370,000 pieces of paper each year and saving an estimated $2.5 million in annual IT costs. And with 90% of employees using the system at least weekly and the ability to answer questions in real-time that used to take hours or even days, the collaborative approach championed by leadership is paying off. As Carter, the CIO, put it, “IT doesn’t come to the table by itself, it comes to the table with HR, it comes to the table with finance, and we as a group say this is the investment we need to make.”

Join Us at Workday Rising in 2023


That’s it for this year’s Workday Rising Daily! We hope you found value in all four daily recaps of the conference, which you can find here on the Workday Blog. We hope you join us for Workday Rising in 2023, which will take place in San Francisco, September 26-29 (or even sooner at this year’s Workday Rising Europe, taking place in Stockholm, Sweden, November 15-17).

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