Michael Coggin (Accounting ’91, ’92) came to the University of Tennessee with his sights set on becoming an engineer. Mirroring his father’s work ethic and leadership skills, Coggin wanted to one day lead just as his father had done as a manager for a chemical company that had operations throughout the Southeast
Coggin grew up in Tennessee but lived in Alabama during his middle school years. With Tennessee football radio coverage extending into northern Alabama, his love for Tennessee grew and his resolve to attend the University of Tennessee strengthened. Coggin was the first in his family to attend UT, but many of his family members later followed. His wife, Anna, and two of his brothers and their wives attended UT as well. His son, Tyler, has recently followed in the family’s footsteps and is majoring in accounting at the Haslam College of Business.
During his first quarter at UT, Coggin switched majors to accounting, noting that this degree allowed for a variety of experiences that are necessary to grow and lead across the board within all industries.
“I never thought about accounting or anything in the business world until I got to the University of Tennessee,” says Coggin. “I was good with numbers and I knew I cared about how financial results impacted businesses and individuals around the world. Professors like Dick Townsend made it easy to find my place at the college and go after my goals.”
Upon deciding to major in accounting, Coggin’s aim was to lead effectively and manage the financial operations of a large organization, which is precisely what he does as the CFO of LifePoint Health in Nashville. Coggin has financial responsibility for LifePoint Health that has 85 hospitals in 29 states. Every day is a little different but most of his focus revolves around strategically analyzing and directing the Company’s financial performance. He also helps debt and equity investors understand the business and including many of the key initiatives of the company.
Coggin states it is incredibly important to continue to have thought-leaders graduating from the Haslam College of Business. They should aim to help improve the healthcare system in the United States, and those are the types of employees that LifePoint is looking to hire, he says.
“When you think about finance in the context of health care in the United States, current outcomes are low and spending is high,” says Coggin. “Future leaders can help us work through the cost challenges and evolve the healthcare delivery system with the aim of improving the overall financial viability. It is important to have profits where profits are needed so that we can reinvest in technology, innovation and improvements in order to continue to strengthen the health outcomes in the United States. I have seen firsthand that the students at the Haslam College of Business have the drive and the capability to help solve challenges such as these.”
Coggin believes that hard work and enjoying what you do are two of the most important attributes leading to successful academic performance and long-term career achievements. He also believes that it is equally important to balance a healthy home life with your career responsibilities. He encourages those starting out in the workforce to find people that they admire and use them as professional mentors to help shape the pathway for their careers.
“Students should find mentors and groups of people that align with their personal goals and initiatives,” says Coggin. “It is important to develop a pipeline and network of people who are driven and align with what you want in life. If you find people who mesh with your future, you will take each other far.”