Climbing the corporate ladder: two women leaders new to ranks, but not to success.

Author:Bohi, Heidi

Not everyone is cut out for Alaska. Climate aside, it takes someone who understands the state is still stumbling through its awkward youth and who wants to help ease the trying transition. What some see as funky, they find fascinating. To them, challenges are nothing more than a flashing sign that around the bend are good things to come.


When Annie Holt, Alaska Regional Hospital chief executive officer, decided to accept the position to lead one of the state's largest hospitals, this is what made her the perfect candidate for the position.

"I tend to go to jobs that are interesting rather than just a bigger opportunity," Holt says from the corner office she has occupied since October 2009. "I go to hospitals that allow me to grow and contribute. I'm a very action-oriented type person and high energy and felt that the working relationships in the community and hospital were receptive to having my kind of personality here."

Since first arriving, Holt says, her primary focus has been assessing the hospital to see what's been working well and what areas need some attention. She has sought input from employees, medical staff and directors--she also makes rounds to talk with patients and families--all part of this evaluation phase she will use to take action and move forward in an efficient way.


Launching her career as a registered critical care nurse in the 1970s before moving into management, Holt's most recent experience was as vice president of quality and service line development for the HCA Mountain Division in Utah. She was also CEO of Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, and CEO of Indianapolis Women's Hospital. She was chief operating officer and chief clinical officer of St. Mark's Hospital (simultaneously) in Salt Lake City, Utah. She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and has 30 years experience in hospital administration.

Looking back, despite the senior executive positions earning her such high accolades, Holt says her frontline experience as a nurse more than 30 years ago also was critical in giving her a better understanding of how the processes in health care fit together. At the same time, though, it was one of her least favorite ways to get a different perspective on the health care field, being a patient at a hospital in the Lower 48 for several weeks is something she says every administrative person should do. Holt compares it to the 1991 film "The...

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