Payer vets share best leadership advice


As you may have read, FierceHealthPayer has assembled a full board of advisers ready to share their expertise, lessons learned and words of advice with our editors and readers. Many of our advisers already have helped shape our coverage on topics like payment updates, consumer education, canceled health plans and data analytics.

Without further ado, let me introduce to you the members of our Editorial Advisory Board (be sure to check out their bios, pictures and links to the stories in which they've been featured, too):

  • Brian Lobley, SVP of marketing and consumer business, Independence Blue Cross
  • Shaun Greene, chief operating officer, Arches Health Plan
  • Debbie Gordon, VP of marketing, sales and product strategy for senior products, Tufts Health Plan
  • Doug Cedras, director of corporate and financial investigations, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Ingrid C. Lindberg, chief customer experience officer, Prime Therapeutics
  • Daryl Wansink, director health economics, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
  • Michael Samuelson, SVP, health and wellness, ret., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island
  • Julie Slezak, chief analytics officer, CareCore National
  • Laurie Wesolowicz, director of clinical pharmacy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Jim Bixler, vice president of ethics & compliance, ret., WellPoint
  • Melanie Wilhoite, director, marketing and brand management, Premera Blue Cross / LifeWise Health Plan of WA and OR

Not wanting to let our advisers get an early start to the July 4th holiday, I reached out to the industry veterans to share the most important leadership lesson learned during their careers. With varied professional backgrounds and areas of expertise, their advice on how to achieve success included everything from important personal traits--patience and flexibility--to necessary leadership styles--multidisciplinary and compassionate.

Here are some of the best lessons for future health insurance leaders:

"It's a good thing when you are in a meeting with your team and you're the least knowledgeable person in the room. My goal is to always hire people smarter than me but who I can help coach to deliver the greatest value to the company through analytics." - Wansink

"In 2001, when I made the decision to join this crazy world of healthcare, I truly believed that we could change this industry in a big way--by helping people make sense of the chaos. In order to be successful in leading this effort, I learned that I had to have the patience of a saint, the heart of a lion and the tenacity of a street fighter." - Lindberg

"It is very important to create alliances not only with peers who share your expertise but also with subject matter experts in the corporation who possess complimentary knowledge that can focus your efforts globally rather than in a narrow scope. The outcomes and successes of collaboration and multidisciplinary teamwork will clearly outweigh individual efforts and help to develop best practices." - Cedras

"The most important leadership lesson I have learned in my career is to be flexible. There is not a uniform approach to leading and managing, rather it takes an ability to look at each situation independently, draw on prior experiences for insight, but be able to make decisions based on the problem and circumstances at hand." - Lobley

"I found that when I cared and took care of my people they in return took care of me. They were motivated, worked hard and to their full potential." - Bixler

With such an esteemed group of advisers, representing health insurance organizations across the United States, we look forward to providing advice that will actually help you achieve career success--whether that entails leading customer engagement efforts or implementing quality and efficiency programs.

In addition to our advisory board, we can't forget our informal advisers and sources, which includes you, our readers. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please send me an email. - Alicia (@HealthPayer)