Utah’s top bosses share the ‘secrets’ of their success

Top Workplaces honors the best company leaders in the state. See what they hope to accomplish.

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton, shown in 2014, pulled a threepeat in 2022, again winning Top Workplaces honors for his leadership of Health Catalyst.

CEOs need not become BFFs with their employees, but it sure helps if they’re BBFs — best bosses forever.

These top executives apparently have found ways to do so — by leading, listening, respecting, supporting, appreciating and valuing their workers.

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

The 2022 honorees are:

• Dan Burton, CEO of Health Catalyst, a South Jordan health care data and analytics company (now a three-time winner).

• Steve Sonnenberg, CEO of Awardco, a Lindon software provider for employee recognition efforts.

• Carrie Romano, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area, a Salt Lake City facility that helps families with seriously ill or injured children.

Here’s what each executive had to say about their leadership style, how they try to improve, and what they hope to leave as a legacy for their organizations.

Dan Burton, Health Catalyst CEO

(Health Catalyst) Dan Burton, CEO of Health Catalyst.

What do you think makes your leadership style successful?

We strive to be principle-centered in our leadership at Health Catalyst, applying timeless principles consistently, which leads to positive outcomes in any situation within which those principles are applied. These principles include love or respect for every team member, recognizing their immeasurable value; humility and careful, active listening with each team member; and servant-leadership, recognizing that leaders must be effective servants and supporters of every team member. We did not invent these principles, but have benefited greatly when we apply them.

What is something you would like to accomplish during your tenure?

I hope that every day of my tenure as CEO — looking back 11 years, and forward in the months and years ahead — to have our company always focused on and dedicated to our mission, and having built a company with client relationships that produce financial strength, scalability and sustainability, and that we continue to be a best place to work with industry-leading team member engagement.

Is there a leadership skill you’re still trying to master?

I can always refine and develop greater humility and greater love for teammates. I will never be done developing these kinds of characteristics.

Steve Sonnenberg, Awardco CEO

(Awardco) Steve Sonnenberg, Awardco CEO

What do you think makes your leadership style successful?

Creating authentic connection, embracing challenges, and continually innovating have greatly contributed to the success of Awardco. I love to be personally involved in the work going on — from leading out on sales calls to meeting with my employees to get to know them on an individual basis. I recognize that surrounding myself with people whose strengths are my weaknesses plays a major role in creating a culture of success.

The whole idea of Awardco was born out of a challenge that I recognized. I think embracing challenges is the best way to create something that is genuinely going to solve a problem for people. I also think that having a mindset that expects changes and innovation is really important. Your first iteration will never be perfect. In fact, none of them will be. Create something, get it out there, and then continue to make it better.

What is something you would like to accomplish during your tenure?

Recognizing the good is one of Awardco’s values for a reason. I feel very passionately about recognizing, creating and sharing the good in every aspect of life, and I want to have a positive impact on the lives of my employees and clients. Ultimately, I want to make the world a more supportive and kind place through the technology we have created.

Is there a leadership skill you’re still trying to master?

Pivoting quickly is the name of the game in tech, and it’s never easy, especially if you have a particular idea of how something should go. I’m getting better at it, and pride myself on pressing forward, but it’s a conscious decision I continually have to make in this ever-changing industry.

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

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

What do you think makes your leadership style successful?

My leadership style is inspired by purpose and people, and I love my job. Ronald McDonald House Charities, Intermountain Area is a nonprofit charitable organization that offers pediatric patient families very tangible, practical support and compassionate care. We are a mission-based business. Our mission inspires me each day to become a more fearless and passionate leader. Our team is our most valued asset, and I have somehow surrounded myself with a truly exceptional team of professionals and volunteers. Their leadership and hard work inspire me to be a more authentic and effective leader. I strive to embrace a leadership style that’s both courageous and vulnerable. I love working alongside a team of mission-driven individuals to achieve big and ambitious goals, and I’m not afraid of failing. I believe leadership is ultimately a support function. My job, as a leader, is to inspire, support and grow the potential of the wonderfully diverse and gifted people around me — to create more mission and better mission.

What is something you would like to accomplish during your tenure?

We are working hard to grow our mission impact to serve thousands of additional families with hospitalized children. We’re growing our professional team with the addition of three new guest rooms at our Ronald McDonald House and three new hospital-based Ronald McDonald Family Room programs (with nine combined overnight guest rooms). We’re also working 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 resources. As we scale [up] our organization, I would love to earn the philanthropic support to keep and grow the strong team we have. During my tenure, I hope to have helped build a strong balance sheet and a culture of mission-driven excellence, inclusion and compassion. Ultimately, I would love to leave it better than I found it, which is all any of us can do.

Is there a leadership skill you’re still trying to master?

Yes! There are so many leadership skills I’m working to master. Leading in a hybrid work environment has created so many new challenges and opportunities. We carry out most of our work (and charitable mission) in person. I’m not yet sure how to maximize technology to further our mission. I’m still learning which meetings are more effective in person vs. virtual vs. hybrid. On a personal level, the leadership skills I’m currently working on are patience, humility, listening and time management. It’s a journey.