Sunday, August 22, 2010

NAAAP100: Martha Choe, CAO Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Martha Choe: Leadership Success Through Learning

by Shirley Chin

Martha Choe is the current Chief Administrative Officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is no stranger to learning and the success it brings. She began her career as a high school teacher in Eugene, Oregon. The teaching position helped her create a solid foundation for the future positions she would hold. "If you are a great learner and possess people skills, then you will have the necessary tools to be successul in any industry," she said. With her people skills and desire to be a lifelong learner, Ms. Choe has been able to transition into leadership roles in various industries.

One of her jobs was serving as Vice President at the Bank of California Credit Administration for ten years. After seeking a desire for change from the bank, Ms. Choe embarked on a career in public service. She served two four-year terms on the Seattle City Council. During her tenure she oversaw important issues by working on the transportation, economic development and finance committees. She has also served as the Director of the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development. Ms. Choe has provided leadership for sustainable job growth throughout the state of Washington.

Ms. Choe believes that there are many steps that need to be taken in order to be an effective leader. Those steps include having the courage to take risks and handling failure in a positive manner. Cultivating and motivating your staff towards achieving a goal is another step. "Creating a vision and clearly articulating to a team to rally suport and success is important," she said.

Through her work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Choe has been able to foster a team environment that encourages cross collaboration to find effective solutions. This can vary from complex research studies to local education initiatives for children. "I was drawn to the mission that focuses on every person having an opportunity to live a healthy productive life and our underlying belief that all lives have equal value," she commented. The foundation's primary mission is to help people live healthy and productive lives. The work includes helping individuals in developing countries to improve health conditions and work towards self-sufficiency. In the United States, this involves helping individuals that have limited resources gain the assistance that they need.

Martha received her bachelor's degree in speech and ethnic studes from the University of Washington and master's in business administration from Seattle University.


View the NAAAP100 Award Ceremony sponsored by the Coca-cola Company

Discover all of NAAAP100 recipients at the soon to be launched Asian Leaders online magazine:

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