During a career that has taken her from military hospitals during the Vietnam War to the top spot in MultiCare Health System in Tacoma, Diane Cecchettini says throughout her career, she has felt as if responsibility were being thrust upon her. And, the new president and CEO at MultiCare adds, she has always welcomed it.

Cecchettini replaces Barry Connoley, who has retired after 14 years at MultiCare’s helm. She says replacing Connoley was never a career goal.

“I’ve never pursued specific jobs,” she says. “I try to do the best I can and let the future take care of itself.”

Cecchettini earned her nursing degree at UCLA and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force before being sent to the Philippines, where she would play a role in helping American soldiers survive wounds suffered in the rice paddies of Vietnam and get her first taste of management.

She enjoyed the management aspects of her job, she says, and decided after returning to the United States to pursue management as a course of study. She received a master’s degree in human resources management from Utah State University, she says, and was in her second job out of the military when she feels she began to realize her potential.

At Sutter Health Systems in Sacramento, Calif., she was promoted first to assistant administrator of Sutter General Hospital, then assistant director of nursing at Sutter Memorial Hospital. Her career had blossomed.

Her 21-year-year career in the Air Force Reserve Career mirrored her success in civilian life. She climbed to the rank of lieutenant colonel and served as a troop commander in Operation Desert Storm before her eventual retirement in 1993. She’s married to Washington Air National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Frank Scoggins.

She’d joined MultiCare Tacoma as vice president of patient services before being promotedto executive vice president in 1997. Such roles were an excellent training ground for her new job, says Cecchettini, but she’s had to work at making the transition as seamless as possible..

“I have been learning this job since December,” she says. “Making this transition smooth was the concern of everyone.”

As for the future, she says: “We will never get any more revenue than we get now, so our decisions on where to spend what we have have enormous impact.”

By Brent Snyder, Business Examiner staff