The old saying goes if you fall off the horse you’ve got to get back on the saddle.
Alanna Koch spent her teenage years riding horses in equestrian competitions across western Canada so she is well-aware of the need to persevere.
“Horses teach you about patience, it taught me a lot about responsibility, accountability,” Koch recalled. “I learned a lot about being part of a team, if you are the star player or you are in back room cleaning the barns, it taught me a lot.”
Those lessons, along with the experiences from her decades-long career in the public and private sector, seemed to culminate in her decision to run to replace Brad Wall.
“My husband and daughters sat me down and they said ‘what are you waiting for? You have to do this, this is something you have talked about for a long time. This is something we as a family have talked about, you have got to do this,’” Koch explained.
She resigned her position as deputy minister to the premier, in charge of the 11,000-strong civil-service, in order to enter the leadership race.
It is no surprise she gave Brad Wall’s name as a reference.
“I think what he would say is that she’s hard-working, does her homework, she is always well-prepared and straight up. She gives you advice even though you don’t want to hear it,” Koch said.
Koch also joked that Wall would likely point out that she is older than he is.
Like anyone seeking a job, Koch was asked the classic interview question about strengths and weaknesses.
“My strength is being able to set that vision, pull people together with that strong communication approach and then together we’re going to get to where we’re going to go because of that authentic leadership style I’ve had,” Koch said.
“My weakness is I am probably too much of a workaholic and tend to drive a little hard and I need to find a better work-life balance.”
When she does find time for some rest and relaxation, Koch can be found in front of a movie more than any TV show.
“I am a movie buff, I love action movies, we love the first Transformers movie, we love that as a family, Indiana Jones, we are crazy Harry Potter-ites, the Lord of the Rings,” Koch laughed. “I’m a loser for the love story too. Leap Year is probably my favourite movie.”
A playlist is not something you will find on Koch’s cellphone. While she is a fan of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, she has no clue how to even access the music.
“I am a completely technical illiterate person, I’m technically-inept. I would not know how to download a playlist (without) my girls I can’t even figure out how to turn the TV on at home sometimes. They are so embarrassed about me,” Koch laughed.
But you will find her enjoying the music at Country Thunder at Craven each year.
As she continues to navigate a more public life, Koch still finds inspiration in her parents.
“They taught me so much about hard work, honesty, integrity, treating people right, community and politics,” Koch explained. “They always said you go do what you want to do, you’re smart enough, don’t let anyone tell you you’re not. You go get it done, we’re here right behind you and you will make mistakes, but that’s ok, we’ve made them too.”
Out of any historical figure to sit down with, Koch chose Walter Scott, Saskatchewan’s first premier.
“He built Saskatchewan at a time when we were nowhere on the map. He had to dream big when people probably thought it was crazy to dream this big or think this broadly about Saskatchewan,” Koch said.
“He would be an interesting guy to talk to. ‘How did you have the courage to make some of the decision you made? How do you have this vision for what Saskatchewan is going to be?’ He had so much confidence, vision and courage.”
Some people have asked Koch whether she has been thinking about running to be premier for a while and it is something her grandfather talked to her about even when she was a teenager.
“He said, ‘you promise me you will be premier one day,’ and I said, ‘I can’t promise that,’ he said promise. So I told him I would promise to try. I always thought maybe someday. I hope people think I’m worthy.”