Vivian Kardow joined the UTMB family in October 2017 as vice president of Human Resources and Employee Services. In this role, she is responsible for partnering with executive leadership to provide overall strategic planning and management of UTMB’s human resource services and programs.
Kardow came to UTMB as an accomplished certified human resources executive, with nearly 30 years of progressive leadership experience at Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston. Most recently, she served as regional vice president of Human Resources and System Employee Relations for Memorial Hermann, leading HR operations for a region including three community hospitals, 142 ambulatory sites and about 6,000 employees.
Kardow received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a specialization in human resources management from the University of Houston–Clear Lake. She is currently working toward a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Tyler and expects to graduate next summer.
We recently celebrated UTMB’s tremendous success with Best Care. What are your thoughts on how UTMB can maintain its five-star performance long-term?
The work we’ve done with Best Care really differentiates UTMB from other organizations in its discipline and focus on quality execution. To sustain performance, I look to the process that got us here in the first place—a compelling shared vision, talented people, personal ownership of outcomes and leadership. We didn’t treat Best Care as an event, but rather a way to care for our patients—and each other. It’s who we are. We’re keeping it in front, at all times, in everything we do.
What are your goals for HR in the coming year?
We have incredibly talented people in HR with exceptional expertise. We’ll be rolling out a new service delivery model in the next year that will enable us to better engage that expertise and support our priorities, our leaders and employees. More to come on that!
You joined the UTMB family in October and moved to Galveston. How do you like island life so far?
I have always loved the island. We are a beach family and my parents had a house in Sea Isle growing up, so I’ve had a very long relationship with Galveston. I’m enjoying getting reacquainted and getting the scoop on everyone’s favorite restaurants and local shops. I welcome recommendations.
You moved to the U.S. from Cuba as a child with your mother and siblings. What was that experience like and how has it shaped you into the person you are today?
Living under a communist regime and emigrating to the U.S. as a child gave me a unique perspective. My parents have always been my role models. They wanted better for their family and were willing to leave everything and everyone they knew to make that happen. When we received permission from the Cuban government to emigrate, our family of five headed to the airport, but, because my father was a physician, he was denied exit. In that moment, my parents had to make the difficult decision to put my mother and the three of us on the airplane, not knowing when we’d all be back together again. They had a plan—and confidence it was the right one—and they kept moving toward the goal, regardless of obstacles along the way. My father was able to join us a month later. Courage has been an important and recurring theme for me.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer if you’re really passionate about something. Commit and find the way.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Aside from a wonderful marriage and raising a strong and talented daughter, I’ve truly enjoyed the opportunities to lead human resource teams and develop HR professionals. I’ve been fortunate in having great mentoring relationships and it’s very rewarding to pay that forward.
Describe yourself in three words.
Perhaps I can describe myself in words I aspire to be— happy, sincere, and above all, kind.
What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m not so sure how surprised people would be, but I truly love dogs. I’ve been guilty of going to Petco for dog food and coming home with a rescue. My husband says, “Thank goodness the subdivision only allows us to have three at a time!” I have three: Bandit, Sammie and Scooter, a small 12-pound lovable disaster who claimed me as his. My daughter shares my passion for dogs—she recently adopted a deaf Hurricane Harvey rescue she named Lucy.