By Jennifer Meek
Andrea Marks has spent her career managing money, but her most meaningful accomplishment doesn’t have any zeros at the end of it. She’s most proud of raising her two sons into strong-minded and independent young adults, traits she’s demonstrated herself as chief financial officer of UT Health San Antonio for nearly a decade.
Her first job was a hostess at Bonanza buffet. Last month, she became the new chief operating officer at an academic medical center with an operating budget of more than $900 million.
Marks takes the helm as COO when UT Health San Antonio is in the best financial health of her career, the opposite of when she started here 20 years ago. She leads operations during a future of tremendous growth: over $350 million projected in the next five to 10 years.
“I’m excited about the transformative investments we’re making in patient care and research,” Marks said, referring to UT Health’s growth in these missions. “I have purview and responsibility to advance all of our missions; the role of COO is more than just managing the service areas. It’s the challenge of managing the structure and resources to keep up with our growth.”
Marks admits she’s the kind of leader who doesn’t have all the answers. “I respect the expertise of others. I value people’s perspectives. I want to understand,” she said. “I think I have a great visualization of how problems and opportunities can be solved. It really comes down to execution . . . taking a big idea and turning it into strategy and plans that advance the institution.
“Those who are eager, smart and dedicated can find a way to have a really great career here,” she said. “I’ve seen this organization attract a high caliber of talent. I want to be around that excellence. Here, we’re never satisfied with the status quo.”
Part of why she’s so good at her job is she really likes it. She’s always had a passion for contributing to the community and an excitement about education, two of the missions of UT Health – along with research and patient care. Marks has volunteered on local nonprofit boards at Central Catholic High School and Guardian House, which serves children of divorce and family conflict.
Outside of work, you might find Marks bingeing the Handmaid’s Tale, an edgy dystopian series on Hulu. But more likely you’ll find her at a baseball field. She has a passion for the game after years of watching her sons play in high school and college. Her goal: to watch a baseball game at every major league field in the nation. So far, she’s been to 11 of 30 major league ballparks, a few more than once.