When Damond Boatwright took the job as CEO of Lee's Summit (Mo.) Medical Center, he was fulfilling a long-term goal. Whether that goal relates to his career plan or the barbecue that Kansas City is famous for is open to question.
2009 Up & Comers: Damond Boatwright
In 2003, while Boatwright was working in the Richmond, Va., market for HCA, he took a course in Lynchburg, Va., to become a certified barbecue judge by the Kansas City (Mo.) Barbecue Society. “My wife is now convinced that I've always been scheming on a way to get to Kansas City,” Boatwright says. “When I saw this opportunity (at Lee's Summit), I thought it was just the perfect job for me.”
Don't get the idea that Boatwright, 37, has always wanted to be a hospital CEO. His first job in healthcare was at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and it represented Plan B at the time, he acknowledges. “I wanted to go to law school, truth be told,” he says, but his score on the Law School Admission Test fell short of what he hoped, so he decided to work for a year at MUSC.
“It was in that environment that I fell in love with the hospital setting,” Boatwright says. There, he met his first mentor in healthcare, the late Frank DeMarco, who headed up HCA's Trident Health System in Charleston, S.C. While working at Trident's Colleton Medical Center as assistant administrator, Boatwright earned a master's in health administration and health sciences at MUSC and moved on to the two-year fellowship program at Duke University Health System in Durham, N.C.
At Duke, Boatwright found another mentor in Kerry Watson, now CEO of Duke's 201-bed Durham (N.C.) Regional Hospital. Watson says Boatwright stood out for his inquisitiveness and his certainty about his career goals. Duke offered Boatwright a position, but he already had that next step planned—an HCA program to train chief operating officers, Watson says.
Peter Marmerstein, CEO of CJW Medical Center, says Boatwright “was such a bright, energetic and personable guy that all of us ... used to quip to each other that we're all going to be working for Damond.” Marmerstein adds, “I just see him as the total package. He always looks like he just stepped out of GQ.”
Boatwright likes to shed that GQ image when he goes to a barbecue joint or a festival. “It's a place that I can go to without looking like a typical administrator with a bow tie and calculator,” he says.
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