Becoming the chief executive officer of Seattle’s leading not-for-profit health care provider was never a part of one Columbus native’s plan, but to his surprise, it happened last month.
Guy Hudson, 48, of Seattle, was named CEO of Swedish, a five-hospital not-for-profit health network serving the Greater Seattle area, after serving as the interim CEO since February. The hospital system’s board voted unanimously to select Hudson for the position after an extensive evaluation process.
Hudson, a 1987 graduate of Columbus North High School and a 1991 graduate of Indiana University, has practiced at Swedish as a pediatric urological surgeon and executive physician leader for a decade. He received his medical degree in 1998 from IU School of Medicine.
“I’ve been a perpetual student,” Hudson said.
After earning his undergraduate degree in biology at Indiana University, he later went back to receive his medical degree at the IU School of Medicine and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington.
“It’s great because you take time to learn things and you take time to invest in yourself,” Hudson said. “Then, in that way, you can help others. Any thing I can pass on to help those in the community or patients or people, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”
But even after years in the medical profession, Hudson is still learning. From discovering new ways to help those in need to learning how to balance the things he loves most — family, self-care and work — Hudson is still a student at heart.
Lessons from a mentor
“‘If you want to get involved, you have to volunteer,’” Hudson said, quoting a former mentor. “He said, ‘You have to do things you enjoy, but you also have to do things you don’t know a lot about.’”
From joining a variety of committees to running for offices, Hudson did everything he could simply to learn.
But the lessons didn’t begin at Swedish.
For more than 15 years, Hudson was a swimmer. Beginning at age 5 on the Donner Swim Club, Hudson floated to the top, eventually becoming an integral member of the Columbus North High School 1986 state championship team and earning a spot as a collegiate swimmer on the IU swim team.
At IU, Hudson competed for IU under the guidance of James “Doc” Counsilman, one of the first coaches in the country to film his swimmers and show each athlete how they could improve, performing better and swimming fast. Hudson said Counsilman’s method resonated with him, and is still something he thinks about to this day.
“There is always a way you can do better if you take the time to learn about yourself and ways you can help yourself and invest in others,” Hudson said.
Counsilman remains one of Hudson’s mentors, but Hudson said the greatest lessons he has learned have come from his father, J.R. Hudson of Columbus.
“When I look at how my father grew up and how he worked his way through schooling, jobs and still working at the age of 77 — his work ethic and desire to be the best at things keep me going,” Hudson said. “I inherited that from him. That’s been a big driver of my success, as well.”
While Counsilman’s lessons and the traits Hudson learned from his father are two motivating factors in his success, the list doesn’t end there.
Hudson also attributes his success to three things: his patients, a “better than yesterday” philosophy and the vision for the hospital system to be the highest quality health network in the region.
But in order to focus on these three things, Hudson said two other things come first: personal wellness and family.
“You can only put so much on your plate,” Hudson said. “But most importantly, you have to take care of yourself, particularly staying active and carving out a little bit of time for yourself. You also need to make time to invest in the relationships with your family.”
Hudson lives in Seattle with his wife Carmen and their two children, James, 16, and Ella, 14. He said all three of them understand Hudson’s responsibilities and are supportive of his career.
“The path of being a CEO of a health care organization actually wasn’t my career plan,” Hudson said.
“I wanted to be, and I was, a pediatric surgeon that wanted to take care of kids and take care of families, and I’ve done that well. But I just have gone to what I feel needed the most regarding how I can help. I look at being the CEO of a health care organization as a way I can help the community and the people in this health system in a different way.”
Swedish is the largest non-profit health care provider in the greater Seattle community. With five hospital campuses, multiple ambulatory care centers and a network of more than 180 primary and special care locations, Swedish provides specialized treatment in a variety of areas, such as cardiovascular care, cancer care and orthopedics among others.
For more information, visit swedish.org.
Occupation: CEO of Swedish
Hometown: Columbus, Indiana
Education: Columbus North High School, Class of 1987, 1991 graduate of Indiana University, medical degree in 1998 from IU School of Medicine, has practiced at Swedish as a pediatric urological surgeon and executive physician leader for a decade.
Current residence: Seattle, Washington
Family: Wife – Carmen, surgeon; Two children – James, 16, and Ella, 14