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Time for Fun and Lightness
TIME FOR FUN AND LIGHTNESS
Elizabeth Waltman Former COO and SVP of South Texas Blood & Tissue
Joined Vistage in 2014
2021 Member Excellence Award Winner
Every morning for decades my first thought upon waking was: Is there enough blood on the shelves?
In April I retired as COO and SVP of South Texas Blood & Tissue, and now I wake up thinking about other things — like planning my next European motorcycle adventure. While I loved my job, I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labor while I was still physically fit; I set my sights on retiring just after my 66th birthday and methodically planned my departure.
We began identifying potential successors a few years ago. While a few could have risen to the occasion, one stood out. For 18 months, we gave her more complex projects. I changed my direct reports to her direct reports. We looked at the team for gaps and for new hires. She developed her budget and ran it past the board. We then slowly turned all of the legal elements over to her. During the last three months, all I did was stand in the wings. There wasn’t a blip. It was very comprehensive and deeply satisfying.
Through this process, my Vistage group was extremely supportive. They helped me think through personal and professional issues. They asked all kinds of questions to be sure I was being proactive. Maybe most importantly, they gave me a lot of hoorays — something that you don’t always get when you’re at the top of the totem pole.
As I look ahead, I’m most excited about having a whole slew of new experiences. I feel light as a feather. Being in blood banking for 40 years is a heavy load. It’s fulfilling to know that I did my part, created an A-Team and can totally let go.
Now I’ve got these great goofball motorcycle friends who I have so much fun with. I love to start the day on the racetrack with a cup of coffee and watch the world come to life.
Editor’s note: Over the summer on her way to Italy to race the Mugello motorcycle circuit, Elizabeth (pictured left) stopped in Norway to receive the coveted THOR Award, the top prize given to the person who made the biggest impact in the field of Trauma, Hemostasis and Oxygenation Research in a given year. She is the first woman — and the first recipient who is not a physician — to receive this high honor for her team’s work in providing trauma patients with specially screened type O-positive whole blood at the scene of an accident, on a medical helicopter, or in an emergency room.