Here’s how Utah’s top bosses think about leadership, work culture and the future

Talking with two of the honorees of The Tribune’s Top Workplaces leadership awards.

(Ronald McDonald House Charities) Carrie Romano, CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area

What do the best bosses in Utah have in common?

The 2023 honorees of The Salt Lake Tribune’s Top Workplaces survey each received high praise from their employees — for strategies that combine transparent communication, setting a clear path to success, being a good listener and, overall, being a good role model.

These top bosses have been selected by Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm and The Tribune’s Top Workplaces partner, to receive leadership awards for large, midsize and small companies.

The 2023 honorees are:

Jack Buttars, president and CEO of UFirst Credit Union, a Utah lending institution.

Mark Erickson, managing partner of Tanner LLC, a Salt Lake City certified public accounting and consulting firm.

Carrie Romano, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area, a Salt Lake City facility that helps families of seriously ill or injured children. (Romano is now a two-time winner of this honor.)

The Tribune asked Erickson and Romano what makes their secret sauce work, and how they see the future of their companies as they adapt to a post-pandemic environment. (Attempts to reach Buttars for an interview were not successful.) Here’s what they said:

(Courtesy - Tanner LLC) Mark Erickson, managing partner at Tanner LLC. Erickson received a leadership award in the Top Workplaces 2023 survey.

Mark Erickson

Managing partner, Tanner LLC

What do you think makes your leadership style successful?

“We have a true open-door policy, and appreciate the opportunity to discuss new ideas and solutions with all team members. One of our core values is gratitude – this keeps us focused on the good that our team members and clients bring to our firm. It helps create relationships that are built on respect and appreciation for the talents and abilities that individuals bring.”

Where do you see your company in the next five years?

“Our purpose is to help best-in-class teams realize their full potential. We think we have something unique and valuable to offer to our team members and clients, so we want to continue growing and expanding to allow us to serve more people and organizations. Tanner has a unique culture that allows us to generate strong growth, yet also provides our team members with a positive place to build a career. Within the next five years, we fully expect to be one of the top 100 public accounting firms in the United States.”

How has your company adapted to a post-pandemic world? Do you accommodate remote and hybrid work?

“Due to incredible foresight on the part of our IT team, we were very well-prepared for the pandemic and really didn’t skip a beat when it came to delivering the highest quality service to our customers. We provide an office environment that is fun, friendly and inviting to our team members, which has resulted in most wanting to be in the office most of the time. We accommodate remote and hybrid work and are flexible with our team; however, we see value in being able to meet in person to collaborate, receive training, and build relationships.”

Carrie Romano

CEO, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area

What do you think makes your leadership style successful?

“My leadership style is inspired by purpose and people. I am a maximizer, and work to surround myself with exceptional people who bring skills and talents that I don’t have. We share a common purpose at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of the Intermountain Area, to surround pediatric patient families with the support they need to be near and care for their seriously ill or injured child. Our team and shared mission inspire me to be a more authentic and fearless leader. At RMHC, we get to bear witness to some of the best parts of humanity: Young children who are courageously battling life-threatening illnesses, their warrior parents who fight alongside them, and the donors and volunteers who fuel our mission. We are a mission-based nonprofit organization, so we can rally our team and stakeholders around a direct and meaningful mission. I love working alongside a team of mission-driven individuals to achieve big and ambitious goals. I strive to be a courageous and empathetic leader and I believe leadership is ultimately a support function. As a leader, my job is to inspire and to guide and grow the potential of the wonderfully diverse and gifted people around me.

Where do you see your institution in the next five years?

“Our programs will directly improve access to needed pediatric family-centered care. We are working hard to grow our mission impact to serve thousands of additional families with hospitalized children, with free lodging, food, transportation and compassionate care. We’re expanding our Ronald McDonald House with additional guest rooms, to create an 87-room Ronald McDonald House, and we are expanding our hospital-based Ronald McDonald Family Room program by building two new family rooms (six RMFR programs with 19 total private bedrooms by the end of 2025). We’re continuing to grow the quality of support we can offer patient families with newly endowed positions, to offer skilled mental health and grief support and connect families with needed community resources. As we scale our organization, we will work hard to earn philanthropic support to build and grow the strong team we have. In five years, we will have once again earned a Top Utah Workplace award, and Charity Navigator’s highest 4-star rating for accountability and excellence with a strong balance sheet and a culture of mission-driven distinction.”

How has your institution adapted to a post-pandemic world? Do you accommodate remote and hybrid work?

“At Ronald McDonald House Charities, our mission happens most regularly in person with face-to-face interactions with patient families who are often in crisis. We’re hosting families at our Ronald McDonald House 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Caring for pediatric patient families requires team members to show up in person. We have always valued our team and COVID-19 taught us to truly appreciate the front-line people who show up to do the jobs that need to be done onsite every single day. We also learned that some jobs, duties, meetings or professional projects can be done even more effectively off-site, on Teams, or through cloud-based project management. We have team members who may work hybrid schedules with shared offices. However, I still prefer to work onsite with our programs team, and with the Board of Directors because those in-person interactions feel more meaningful.”

Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.