Top 25 Emerging Leaders
Jennifer Sinclair, 38
Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer, St. Dominic-Jackson (Miss.) Memorial Hospital
When Jennifer Sinclair accepted a position as controller of 523-bed St. Dominic-Jackson (Miss.) Memorial Hospital in 2001, she saw it as a good opportunity to gain a foothold at a large, tertiary hospital. And Sinclair, now 38, was adept at jumping when an opportunity presented itself.
Sinclair attended Mississippi State University, taking night classes while working full time as an accounts payable manager at a poultry processing company. She finished her accounting degree in three years, at age 19. On the advice of a mentor, she took a job after graduation as a staff auditor at Ernst & Young at 20, and by 25, she was the director of accounting at 108-bed River Oaks Hospital, Flowood, Miss.
“She's passionate, driven and very motivated,” says Claude Harbarger, president of St. Dominic's. “She has the financial capabilities and knowledge, which are the core basics of her job, but she also brings so much integrity and professionalism, too.”
Indeed, nearly a decade after accepting that first position at St. Dominic, Sinclair, who now serves as the hospital's vice president of finance and chief financial officer, says her work has come to mean much more to her than she had initially expected.
“I feel a real connection to the mission,” Sinclair says, referring to the hospital's faith-based outreach and services for the poor. “I feel very lucky to be a part of it.” As CFO, Sinclair has led an aggressive effort to build up the hospitals' physician network and acquire urgent-care clinics. Physician alignment is critical, she says, particularly in Jackson's competitive hospital market. “Building those relationships with physicians is key for us right now,” she says. She has also ensured that adequate resources are available for St. Dominic's extensive health information technology projects, which have included implementing a hospital-wide electronic health record, computerized physician order entry and physician documentation. St. Dominic was recently recognized as a Stage 6 facility on HIMSS Analytics' EMR Adoption Model—the second-highest designation on the scale. The bill for the hospital's health IT projects has averaged about $2 million each year, and Sinclair has kept those projects on target while still maintaining the hospitals' goal of zero long-term debt on its balance sheet, Harbarger says. And Sinclair is preparing herself for yet another challenge in the fall when she plans to return to Mississippi State University to earn a master's degree in business administration. “It's something I haven't had a chance to do yet, and I'm looking forward to it.”