Throughout my professional career, one of my best attributes has been my willingness to take on new challenges. By remaining flexible, I have been able to adapt to different work environments while building upon valuable experiences throughout my career. During my seven years as a CPA with KPMG Peat Marwick LLP, I quickly developed a keen sense of my clients’ business and how to meet their needs. Little did I know at the time that one of my largest clients, Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, which later became Highmark Inc., would eventually become my employer.

When I began my career at Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, I spent the first six years in director positions in finance and audit before moving on to product management and development as a director. This was a pivotal career change because I was leaving the finance and audit world where I trained to expand my professional experience. When I look back on that decision, I remember recognizing that I wanted to do something new. I wanted to be involved in the core business and develop new products. I spent 10 years in product management and development, which led to the opportunity to begin the Innovation Department at Highmark. A year later, I was asked to also head up Highmark’s Office of Health Care Reform. Again, flexibility has played a key role in my ongoing career path.

Each new opportunity in my career path has been very positive and fulfilling for me. Since Highmark is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation, I am challenged daily with providing our 4.8 million health plan members with innovative ways to stay healthy, to improve their health and to provide them with answers to the many questions surrounding health care reform. I enjoy knowing that I am making a positive impact in their lives as well as those of our employees.

The ever-changing environment that I enjoy today did not come easily or through self-reliance. Along the way I’ve had many mentors to propel my career and sharpen my leadership skills. To this day, I find joy in mentoring those who are forging their own career paths and encourage others to step outside of their comfort zone in order to stretch their abilities, so they can continue to grow.

The best advice I can offer to others looking for ways to continue their career growth is to volunteer to take on new responsibilities or learn new skills. I encourage employees to express their interests in working on other projects within the department and to be willing to take some risks that may lead to new career paths.