Column | Leadership

‘Auld Lang Syne’

Column | Leadership

‘Auld Lang Syne’

Mike Allen, HFMA National Chair

Mike Allen, HFMA National Chair


The largest part of my ancestry comes from Scotland, according to the results that came back from But that’s no surprise because my mother’s maiden name is McNeil, and we can trace our roots back to Campbeltown, Scotland.

“Auld Lang Syne” is, of course, best associated with saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new year. But the song is often used in general as a farewell for many occasions. The origin goes back to Scotland, and the song was already ancient when Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns first recorded it on paper and sent it to the Scots Musical Museum in 1788. It translates roughly to “For old times’ sake” (source: 

Given my heritage and “Auld Lang Syne” being Scottish in origin, it seemed to be the fitting song to end my two years as HFMA Chair. To quote another song, “Truckin’,” by the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it has been.” A little over a year ago, I was preparing for the final sprint to the planned end of my term in May of 2020. But so much has changed. We’ve collectively experienced something that we will be talking about the rest of our lives. We’ve felt uncertainty, grief, confusion and in some cases joy in the simpler pace of life that was thrust at us. We also have a new vocabulary of words, acronyms and phrases like social distancing, new normal, WFH (work from home), COVID, flatten the curve, mRNA, superspreader, novel, contact tracing, herd immunity, Zoom and, just for fun, covidiot

I kicked off my term as Board Chair in Orlando in June of 2019 at the Annual Conference. It seems like a lifetime ago, a parallel universe that no longer exists. Many of you know I am a songwriter, and I’ve written about 20 new songs in the last two years. So much to say. So much has changed. 

My two years as HFMA Chair have been the most memorable time of my career. It’s been wonderful and exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. And unforgettable because of all of you. You’ve been great friends, colleagues, hosts, dinner companions, navigators and more. Thank you. 

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, for days of auld lang syne?

It is time say goodbye. Hope to see you all in Minneapolis this November “for old times’ sake”! 

About the Author

Michael M. Allen, FHFMA, CPA,

is CFO, OSF Healthcare, Peoria, Ill., and 2020-21 National Chair, HFMA.

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