Beth O’Brien doesn’t look back — a trait she has acquired through her role as a triathlete, and one she carries with her to work at Colorado Springs Health Partners. O’Brien, 33, came to Colorado Springs seven years ago after growing up in upstate New York and graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. Despite initial struggles breaking into the market during the economic recession, she became more connected to the athletic community through her work at Colorado Running Company and eventually found work as a graphic designer and marketing coordinator for CSHP. O’Brien spoke to the Business Journal this week about her five years at CSHP, her passion for fitness and being a Colorado transplant.
Can you tell me about your background and how you came to work for CSHP?
I grew up in upstate New York in the Hudson River Valley … and decided that I wanted something completely different when I left for college, so I went to Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia. I graduated in 2003 and got a great job as an in-house designer for AT&T and was a graphic designer there during the big BellSouth merger. I spent almost four years with them before I moved out here with my ex-husband in 2007. The economy was obviously horrible then, and I had a hard time finding a job that would rival AT&T. I ended up getting a job at a small company here and they laid me off after about 10 months, which was actually a blessing in disguise. That’s when I started working for Colorado Running Company, just to make ends meet, and put together their website and I worked on the retail side of something that was my passion — running. I really found my niche here working for them, and I still do some work for them. … It had been about two years, and the economy started to get better, when I saw a listing that CSHP had posted online for a graphic designer and marketing person. I applied, got the job, and October will be my five-year anniversary with CSHP. It has been a fun ride so far.
How does working for CSHP compare to AT&T and other jobs you’ve had?
It’s very interesting, and I love it. … Here it is about being flexible and being knowledgable about the industry, and also what you do. What I love about it is that it’s not the same thing every day. Some days I will be at a health fair, while others I will be designing health pamphlets for patients or a new brochure because there is something new with the Affordable Care Act that is going to affect our patients. So I use my skills as a graphic designer to help people understand health care systems. It’s an awesome place to be.
Graphic design and marketing coordination seem like two sides to the same coin.
It is almost the best of both worlds: I love being social and being connected and the dynamic of all of that, but I also love to design, and that’s why I do what I do. This is such a great combination of those two things.
How long have you been interested in running, and how did you become a triathlete?
I ran cross country and track all through high school, and I played basketball during the wintertime to keep myself in shape. I carried that through college, but when I started at SCAD they didn’t have a cross-country team yet, just a running club. … Then my freshman year, the running club became a team. As soon as I found that out, I joined the cross-country team. My cross-country coach at the time was an Ironman triathlete, and she knew that I worked as a lifeguard during the summers when I went home and that I biked everywhere, so she said, “You know, I really think you would love triathlons.” So I did my first triathlon the year I graduated and haven’t looked back.
Do you get anything from running and being outdoors that you apply to your working career?
If anything, it calms me down and clears my mind. Today, when I leave work from Monument, I’ll go home and work until 10 o’clock, but this morning I made sure that I got in my 5-mile run. I knew that if I didn’t get it in, I wouldn’t feel as energized as I needed to feel for the day to do my best at work.
How would you describe CSHP’s role in the community, and how do you fit in?
We’re the largest privately owned physician group in the community. We’ve been here since 1946, and have grown over the years from just six doctors to over a hundred, as well as nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants. … My role as our in-house graphic designer, and part of our three-person marketing team, is to be part of that support system for our doctors and their clinics.
Would you say your values align with those of CSHP?
I wouldn’t work for a company I didn’t believe in. That’s kind of like being a sales person trying to pitch something they don’t believe in — you’re not going to work for that company unless you can back the product. I think we’re absolutely heading in the right direction. … I think our company is very strategically placed right where it needs to be as a company, and as far as taking care of our patients also. n CSBJ