At the time I went to college, it was not very common for women to enter more technically oriented fields, which was a closer match to my academic skills and interests. I was very fortunate to have unwavering support from my parents, who believed and encouraged me to become anything I wanted to be, instead of what might have been viewed by others as more traditional or expected. I was lucky to have found the actuarial profession, which allowed me to utilize my technical and analytic skills, but broadly apply them to real business issues. The rigor to become certified gave me a foundation of recognized achievement. At the time there were very few female actuaries and even fewer involved in health care.
My early career was performing more technical work in an insurance company. I quickly realized that drawing on some of my other skills would be necessary to wield real influence and become a leader. What took a while longer to learn was that my style of being a leader would be different than many of the role models around me. Developing a variety of relationships and building teams of people with diverse training, education, and work experiences was critical for me in developing and executing a vision and strategy around my passion. Having worked in health insurance for most of my career, I became passionate about overcoming the challenges in providing access and choice to quality, affordable health care for older Americans, and creating solutions that are understandable and sustainable.
Health care can be incredibly complex. Being successful means understanding all of the dependencies and interactions. This process of cultivating relationships and embracing diverse ways of thinking across various disciplines and stakeholders is a key component for a successful leader. The environment is ever-changing; expectations change and bars are constantly raised; therefore, one must continually evolve and anticipate those changes to meet those demands.
I truly acknowledge that my success is a reflection of the quality and strength of my team and those around me. By championing diversity in yourself and those around you, you can significantly expand your circle of knowledge and influence.