Allan C. Golston Biography
Built Career in Hospital Finance, Joined Billion Dollar Foundation
When Allan C. Golston took over as financial director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, he assumed responsibility for the world's most well-endowed grant makers. Overseeing the release of more than a billion dollars each year, the confessed workaholic Golston was responsible for ensuring the money was well spent. After a career in accounting and hospital administration, Golston was surprised to find himself as an executive in the massive nonprofit. "I never knew this was a direction I would ever consider going in," he told the Puget Sound Business Journal.
Built Career in Hospital Finance
Golston was born around 1967 into a family that valued education and world-awareness. He was required to read the daily newspaper and discuss current events at the dinner table. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, it was "an exercise that helped open his eyes to world problems." After graduating high school, Golston hoped to pursue medicine but discovered he was too squeamish for sutures and surgery. Instead he turned to numbers and figures, enrolling as a math and accounting major at the University of Colorado. After graduating he joined the consulting firm KPMG Peat Marwick in 1989; he worked long hours crunching numbers as part of their financial and internal control audit practice. By 1991 Golston had moved to Denver, Colorado's MIS, Inc. as director of business analysis and product development. He was responsible for consulting on and designing federally mandated accounting and investment software for the insurance and banking industries.
In 1993 Golston moved closer to his first love of medicine when he joined the staff of the University of Colorado Hospital as its director of finance and controller. At this 393-bed hospital Golston oversaw all aspects of finance, including accounting, reporting, treasury, compliance, debt, and risk management. He also managed over $400 million in investments for the hospital. After four years in this position, Golston moved to Seattle, Washington, where he became director of finance for Swedish Health Services, the largest health provider in the Pacific Northwest. At Swedish, Golston managed a billion-dollar health care system, including all aspects of corporate finance, budget, third-party contracts, accounting, tax compliance, grants, and risk management. He also oversaw the hospital's investments, which exceeded $500 million. Under Golston's financial leadership the hospital received $258 million in tax-exempt debt relief to finance a major rebuilding plan. During this time Golston also earned an M.B.A. from Seattle University.
Joined Billion Dollar Foundation
Golston joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 as director of finance. Created by the billionaire owner of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, and his wife Melinda, the foundation has an endowment in excess of $28 billion. Committed to promoting global health, education, and public libraries, the foundation was a perfect fit for Golston. "It was a unique opportunity, with the interests I had," he told the Puget Sound Business Journal. Because the Gates Foundation practiced an administrative policy that does not limit positions to specific job titles, Golston was placed in charge of administration as well as finance. On the finance side he was responsible for accounting, taxes, financial planning, and analysis. On the administrative front he oversaw information technology, site operations, and human resources. He also served on the senior executive team for foundation strategy.
Though his work at Gates was more than full-time, Golston still found time to serve on several Seattle-based boards, including Philanthropy Northwest, the Public Library of Science, the Artist Trust, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He also served on an advisory committee for the Port of Seattle. His activities as well as his fast-track career earned Golston kudos as one of 40 Under 40, an award from the Puget Sound Business Journal honoring outstanding individuals under the age of 40. When not working Golston practiced yoga and participated in the British-American Project, an inter-country group of up-and-coming business people dedicated to exchange between the United States and the United Kingdom. However, it was his job that fed one of Golston's deepest loves: travel. As the organization funds dozens of programs in Africa, Golston traveled to Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. "The perspective from that trip was just remarkable," he told the Puget Sound Business Journal. "It helped me realize what an advantage I've had." Fortunately, as one of the top executives at the world's largest grant maker, Golston was in a position to help even out those advantages and do something his world-wise parents would have been proud of: make a difference in the world.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, www.gatesfoundation.org (October 26, 2005).
"Golston Finding Balance Through Yoga," Puget Sound Business Journal, www.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2003/09/15/focus29.html (September 20, 2005).
"Minding the Gates: Foundation Focuses on Efficient Giving," Puget Sound Business Journal, http://seattle.bizjournals.com/seattle/stories/2003/12/15/story2.html (September 20, 2005).