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Executive Q&A: BlueCross BlueShield chief says journaling helps him lead, solve problems, monitor goals

Executive Q&A: Texas native Ted Haynes came to Tulsa two years ago to lead BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma. He worked nine years in accounting, before moving into health care.
by Paula Burkes Published: July 27, 2014

It’s a Thursday afternoon and Ted Haynes, president of BlueCross and BlueShield of Oklahoma, has driven from Tulsa for the day, to confer with colleagues in Oklahoma City and to check out the new Oklahoma Caring Foundation van parked outside their offices on Northwest Expressway and attend a community event that evening.

Lying atop Haynes’ conference table is a leather-bound book with the word “JOURNAL” on its cover.

After it’s pointed out, Haynes shares that he, for the past 15 years, has written in it daily, following his morning Bible readings.

“I’ve found that writing — along with reading, watching and listening — helps me learn, set and monitor goals, and work through life’s problems,” Haynes said. “When you’re writing, your mind can’t wander,” he said.

Among the many things Haynes has puzzled out through journaling is a second career after he retires.

Deciding upon mediation, he went back to school to earn a master’s in dispute resolution and conflict management.

“The degree is already relevant,” Haynes said, “and comes into play in business all the time.”

Meanwhile, Haynes, 60, said he doesn’t plan to retire any time soon. Here is an edited transcript of his recent conversation with The Oklahoman:

Q: Tell us about your childhood.

A: I grew up in Roscoe, Texas. If you’re heading to Lubbock from Abilene, Roscoe is where you turn left. Its population was 1,300 and my graduating class totaled only 32. But I loved it.

My father farmed 1,500 acres of cotton, and managed a cotton gin. I was the second of four — three boys and a girl — and started driving a tractor when I was 9. My dad paid me 45 cents an hour, and I spent it all on motorcycles. I bought a used Honda for $270 when I turned 14. Today, I ride Harleys.

Q: And college?

A: I wanted to get away from tractors, so I chose to study 400 miles away at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. My parents covered my tuition, but for spending money, I worked as a delivery boy in a flower shop.

After taking basic courses my first year, I elected accounting because it was the only major that didn’t require a foreign language. It took me five years to graduate, but when I did, I had a job with Arthur Andersen & Co. Through the college’s accounting club, I met a mentor who was working there. He pushed me to sit for the accounting exam before I graduated. So, when it came time to interview for jobs, I’d already passed two of the four parts, which gave me an edge on my classmates.

Following graduation, I worked nine years as a field auditor for Arthur Andersen in Houston, including for oil and gas, real estate and construction companies.

Q: How did you move from accounting into health care?

A: I was having dinner at a steakhouse one night and ran into a former Arthur Andersen partner who was reorganizing a subsidiary of Houston-based Memorial Hermann for which he then worked. He called me the next morning and asked me to chair the subsidiary, whose roughly 100 employees administered self-funded managed care plans for some 30 clients and 25,000 members. I knew health care wasn’t an industry that was going away, and was intrigued by the contract negotiations with physicians and hospitals.

Stephen F. Austin State University

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Position: President, BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma

Birth date and childhood home: Aug. 15, 1953; Roscoe, Texas

Family: Shiela, wife of 29 years; children, Heather Hunt, of Ithaca, N.Y., Katie Olson, of Houston, and Carter Haynes, a senior at Oklahoma State University; a 2-year-old grandson and infant granddaughter, of Ithaca

Education: Stephen F. Austin State University, bachelor’s in accounting; Southern Methodist University, master’s in dispute resolution and conflict management

Church: Tulsa’s First United Methodist. They joined their first worship service, following the biblical example of Jacob.

Directorships: Oklahoma Physicians Manpower Training Commission, Oklahoma Caring Foundation, Research Institute for Economic Development, The State Chamber of Oklahoma (2016 chair-elect), Tulsa Area United Way (2015 campaign chair), Tulsa Regional Chamber, Metropolitan Tulsa Urban League Advisory Board, The Oklahoma Center for Community & Justice, Oklahoma Business Roundtable Executive Committee, Allied Arts

For fun: Riding his Harley (he’s ridden to all but Rhode Island and Florida of the contiguous 48 states); dining out in Tulsa’s Utica Square, which is walking distance from their home; weekend getaways to a vacation home on Lake Cypress Springs in Texas; and annual family ski trips to Colorado or New Mexico.


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