When BSNC shareholder Myrtle Fagerstrom retired from a long and successful management career in the airline industry in 2018, managing a busy hotel operation was the last thing she could have imagined doing. Nonetheless, within a year of retiring, Fagerstrom, who thrives under pressure, was back at work for Norton Sound Health Corporation when BSNC Vice President of Shareholder Development Lucille Sands reached out to her in July 2019 to ask if she would consider taking on the role of General Manager of the Aurora Inn and Suites in Nome.
“You’re not checking in passengers; you are checking in people,” said Fagerstrom. “In a way, it’s similar. In the airline industry, you work at a fast pace every day. You learn a lot about logistics. It takes a certain kind of personality to work under pressure and think quickly on your feet to fix problems. It’s been really stressful managing the hotel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stress has always been a part of my job and I think that’s why even when I get tired, I don’t give up.”
Fagerstrom was born and raised in Golovin and attended Covenant High School in Unalakleet where she lived until 1993. Upon graduating from high school, her first job was as an office manager for the Seward Peninsula Flying Service. She then took a brief professional break to be a mother. She later worked at HeadStart and then returned to work for Ravn Alaska where she worked as a Station Manager until her first retirement on Aug. 31, 2018.
Fagerstrom has excelled at managing the hotel during a challenging time for the hospitality industry. She has taken on more challenging aspects of the position, including working the night shift.
“When my dad died when I was nine years old, I knew what he wanted for me and he never would have wanted me to give up,” said Fagerstrom. “My dream was to become a pilot but I married young and started a family. My advice to young people is to go for your goals. If you have the opportunity to go and do something that you want to do, go for it. Just remember that there are consequences for every decision that you make. If you know something you do is good, there will be good outcomes. If you do something bad, you know there are bad consequences. And every day is a new day. Just because today was a bad day does not mean tomorrow will be a bad one.”
Fagerstrom and her husband have a total of nine children and more than 20 grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys berry-picking, sitting by the fire at camp, being outside, being with family and visiting family in Golovin. Family and subsistence are important to her. She is one of seven siblings. Her parents were Floyd and Alice Fagerstrom of Golovin.
“I enjoy building positive relationships with my employees,” said Fagerstrom. “It’s a challenging job but you have to have the right mentality. You have to have that strong sense of responsibility that you can’t give up. Even when I have a bad day, I can’t let my employees down because they work just as hard. My office door is open all the time.”
The Aurora Inn typically has 18 employees and is hiring. Apply by visiting BSNC’s careers page at www.beringstraits.com/careers.