Many college students change majors to figure out what they want to do in life. Little did Chris Woleske know back then, changing her focus from accounting to healthcare administration would one day lead her to become CEO and President of Bellin Health.
“It was still very business-related,” Woleske said, “but it was in a field that I was very interested in and thought that I could really show my passion and really get a lot of joy out of.”
Six years after she graduated, Woleske decided law school would expand her understanding of healthcare even more. She went off to Marquette Law School as a full-time student…and mom.
“Took my son with me, he was three years old at the time. He’s a lawyer now, he says he went to law school twice, once with me and once on his own.”
Woleske then joined a law firm that had Bellin as one of its clients, which later opened the door to her taking a position at Bellin Health. After working on the legal side for years, Woleske was chosen to lead the project of creating a new hospital in Oconto. It was a passion project for her. Not only was she born in Oconto, but the city hadn’t had a hospital there in years.
“I think that I was selected to run that project because I had a real curiosity and a willingness, and I was always one who would say, ‘I want to do that; I want to be part of that; can I learn about that?'”
From there, Woleske skyrocketed through the operations chain, as Bellin Health brought back its Chief Operating Officer position for her to fill.
Then in 2018, Bellin CEO and President George Kerwin retired after 26 years, and he and the board of directors chose Woleske as his successor. When it comes to her leadership style, she says she is a glass half-full type of person, who doesn’t believe in worrying about the whole mountain.
“What someone once told me when I was at the top of a mountain that looked very scary to me with a pair of skis on, and it wasn’t where I thought we were going to end up when we took that chairlift, and ultimately you’ll achieve your goal.”