The Young Achiever’s Award honours our alumni under the age of 40 who have achieved significant milestones in their lives within an exceptional period of time. Taylor Johansen (MHA ‘14) well embodies the key qualities of this recognition— she has earned multiple degrees since completing her undergraduate studies fifteen years ago, including her healthcare administration degree, and has been recognized for her accomplishments through multiple prestigious awards.
Today, Johansen is the Head of the Department of Autism and a Director at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Child Development and Community Services. She also serves on the Board of Directors of a local organization Volunteer Ottawa, and is a Board Member for the MHA Alumni Association at Telfer School of Management.
Johansen earned a Bachelor of Life Sciences from Queen’s University, a Master of Health Administration (MHA) from the Telfer School of Management and received the Robert Wood Johnson Award. In the year 2021, Johansen was on the list of Ottawa’s Forty Under 40, organized by the Ottawa Board of Trade and the Ottawa Business Journal. Last year, Johansen was one of two Canadians chosen as a Young Executive Leader by the International Hospital Federation (IHF). This year, she adds Telfer’s Young Achiever’s Award to her impressive list of accolades, celebrating the milestones of her career in healthcare.
Johansen feels grateful and honoured to receive the award this year. Feeling fortunate to have had access to different programs and executive leadership opportunities, she is looking forward to learning through her career as a young leader and building off this momentum.
MHA: A Career-Changing Inflection Point
Prior to earning her Master of Health Administration (MHA) from Telfer, Johansen worked in social rehabilitation programs in Canada and Australia. Passionate about supporting vulnerable populations, she focused on community-based healthcare and disability support on the frontlines.
Then came the MHA — the “jumping-off point that changed my career,” says Johansen. One of the reasons she chose Telfer to complete her program was the unique opportunity to participate in an internship program, integrating theory with practice. In 2013, Johansen completed a four-month internship at CHEO, shadowing the CEO, Alex Munter, who is also a uOttawa alumnus from the Bachelor of Social Sciences program. Johansen delivered projects in the areas of risk management, patient engagement, strategy and accessibility. “I came from health leadership and the MHA degree gave me what I needed to move forward,” she shares. Her MHA field project was focused on the development of CHEO's Enterprise Risk Management Framework.
Nine years later, she is now the Director of the Autism Program, having climbed the ranks to a senior leadership role, crediting the MHA program as her launching platform. A mother of two young daughters, she feels right at home at CHEO, supporting one of the vulnerable populations in the community — children and their health.
Approaching Challenges in the Healthcare System in Canada
Thinking about the future, Johansen says she will work in a place as long as the curiosity is still there: “Healthcare in Canada is fascinating — it’s the most complex business in the world.” Her interest in the inner workings and mechanics of the Canadian healthcare system keeps her motivated to show up every day with the same unrelenting commitment she had nine years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the way the hospital sector operates, which led to the exhaustion of resources and introduced a completely unforeseen amount of challenges.
Despite the taxing pandemic, Johansen continues to overcome further industry complications like the labour shortage in healthcare and the changing population. Driven by her interest in how it all works, she is focused on moving forward, continuing to connect with the minds needed to drive the industry ahead. Acknowledging the social impact the pandemic has had on people’s lives, Johansen notes that services have slowed down and children have waited longer than adults for treatments. She is working to overcome the consequences of the pandemic through her passion for her work: “This is certainly my calling.”
Johansen loves the constantly changing landscape of the healthcare industry — she enjoys managing change and seeing something evolve. The added layer of the pandemic also allowed her to become better partners with her healthcare executive colleagues all over the world. Named one of the two Young Executive Leaders in Canada by the International Hospital Foundation (IHF), Johansen established deeper connections with like-minded professionals in her field in other countries, sharing solutions, discussing challenges, and bringing together multiple ideas to solve problems on a global level.
The Benefit of a Healthcare Administration Degree
Thinking about the next generation of Telfer leaders, Johansen believes that a successful MHA graduate is able to pivot, think outside the box, and think about what they can do differently. In contrast, what may be unsuccessful or unproductive when thinking about the industry as a whole, is perpetuating cultural processes that have no reason to continue besides the fact that “it’s always been done this way.” According to Johansen, great leaders want to see things change and evolve in a positive way, rounding up support for change. She encourages future Telfer graduates to look for an opportunity to fundamentally change the way things work — what the pandemic did for working from home.
“Look for opportunities to level up wherever you can, just go for it, and don’t be afraid to put a big idea out there because it may just come true,” she says. Raising two daughters, Johansen is focusing on instilling strong feminist values in her children. “They have the full support from me, my husband, and my family to chase their passions and pursue whatever interests they want.”