From Community College To CIO
Annette Marcath enjoyed her years attending a local community college after high school and the career opportunity it presented. When it was time to find a college where she could finish her bachelor’s degree, Marcath chose an institution that she felt could offer her the best opportunity for success.
“I went back as an adult to Walsh,” Marcath recalls. “Being in an environment where there were other adult students, and also the flexibility in the schedule, allowed me to be successful at that point in my life.”
Today, Marcath is the chief information officer for Health Alliance Plan (HAP) — a position she has held since 2013 after starting with the company in 2001. Marcath’s degree from Walsh was not in IT; she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance. But she found out quickly, as her career moved toward technology, that her finance background would remain critical.
“Technology is an important part of any organization and managing the associated expenses and budget is equally important,” Marcath explains. “Being able to understand and manage a budget, read a financial statement, and having an overall understanding of finances is an essential part of being a leader.”
Marcath started her career as a medical laboratory technician. She came to appreciate the discipline of being in a clinical environment but concluded it was not for her, so she enrolled at Walsh to finish her degree — taking advantage of the flexibility that would allow her to take classes at night while working during the day.
Once she finished her degree, she stayed connected to health care but took advantage of what she had learned about finance. “I remained in health care and secured a role in information technology supporting reporting and analytics,” Marcath says. “It was a great transition because my clinical background partnered well with the financial and analytic skills I learned at Walsh.”
But with her Walsh education, she was also developing a mastery of business finance and organizational leadership. That helped lead her to HAP, where she started in 2001 as a senior project manager. Marcath stayed in that role for nearly eight years before taking on new challenges like organizational performance and business process improvement as well as business integration. Today, she leads a team of 180 people in a professional environment that hearkens back to her days at Walsh.
“Walsh was a professional environment with many working students,” Marcath says. “I loved the community college and opportunities it provided for me. At Walsh, the experience was different and focused on my specific career path in business. Its high-caliber faculty and staff with working experience, along with other students that were also balancing school and careers, was ideal for me.”
Marcath particularly recalls a statistics class that helped prepare her for her business career in many ways. “Everyone agreed it was a tough class to get through, but it provided a solid foundation in data and proved to be valuable as I transitioned my career to a business role,” Marcath says.
She also benefited from a scholarship when she attended Walsh, and Marcath sees that as an example of Walsh’s commitment to people who want to give their best effort to achieve challenging goals. “The fact that there are scholarship programs for people who might not otherwise be able to afford an education at a school the caliber of Walsh, that’s a great thing,” Marcath says. “The scholarship program is a testament to their support of the local community, and the people in the community.”
While her finance degree was just the first step on a long road to Marcath’s current role as CIO at HAP, it was clearly a critical one. Since then, she’s made the most of her chances, and she understands that choosing Walsh was one of the most important decisions she’s made.