Name: Mike Bennett
Title: Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer
Company: Highmark Health
Proud Employee since January 2016
How long have you worked within the Highmark Health family?
I started on January 1st of 2016. I had the privilege of getting to know many of the Highmark Health leadership team while working as a consultant from 2010-2013.
What is your position here at Highmark Health and what do you do?
I am the Executive Vice President, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer. My primary role is to ensure that we as a Highmark Health team have a successful strategy for serving our customers and communities and the right focus, culture, capabilities, and process to execute. I also oversee our Enterprise analytics and innovation functions and our Highmark Home and Community Services business. Mostly, I get to work with our talented colleagues to solve our most difficult strategic issues.
What did you do before working at Highmark Health?
Before Highmark Health, I worked at the Cleveland Clinic, where I was responsible for Strategy and Strategic Planning. In that role I spent a lot of time working with clinical service line leaders in developing strategies and care models for the future. I also worked on payor and go-to-market strategies, access, market strategies, and strategic partnerships. Before that I spent roughly 15 years at McKinsey & Company, a consulting firm, where I specialized in the payor/provider industry and led our organizational transformation practice within healthcare.
Why did you decide to join Highmark Health?
I was quite happy at the Cleveland Clinic and in Cleveland itself (go Cavs!) and was planning on staying there for a long time. However, when I spent time with several of our key leaders, including David Holmberg and Deb Rice-Johnson, I knew that this company, role, and challenge were what I had been training for my whole life. I was very attracted to the culture and the quality of the leadership team. I was excited by the challenge of working with our team to tackle the challenges of the competitive and industry environment while at the same time building an integrated delivery and financing system. I truly believe we have the resolve, talent, and opportunity to create a unique model for healthcare, one that the world really needs.
What’s different about working at Highmark Health as opposed to other companies you’ve worked at before?
The level of camaraderie for one. I have yet to meet anyone at this company I don’t enjoy working with, and feel like I have been accepted as one of the team right away. Despite our many challenges and the intensity of our work, I get to laugh and have fun every day. I have been fortunate to be part of organizations and communities of really talented, smart, mission-driven people, and Highmark Health stands out for matching great people with a great environment.
What’s your favorite part about your job/why do you love your job at Highmark Health?
My personal passion is to help great leaders and companies realize their potential. In my role, I get to join great teams of people while they tackle the hardest, most complex, most interpersonally challenging problems we face. Being part of that dynamic, fluid, energizing environment is so much fun. Every day I go home I feel like I have had the privilege to learn something from someone I worked with and to contribute to the execution of something important. It is hard to beat that from my view.
How do you demonstrate that you have courage- that you care and/or collaborate with others in your current role?
I aspire to bring a positive and supportive yet provocative attitude to the people I work with. I believe there is greatness in every person and it is our job as leaders to look for and cultivate that greatness. Part of my job on our team is to make sure we are challenging our conventional thinking and behaviour and to make sure we can see the greatness in each other. Of course I have my personal quirks and developmental opportunities like everyone else, so I try to approach every day with humility and an intent to help others as much as I can (and hope they forgive me when I make mistakes!).
What advice would you give to others looking to pursue a career in within the Highmark Health family?
Two pieces of advice. The first is one specific to Highmark Health – take the time to understand what we are trying to accomplish here and how fantastic the opportunities to contribute are. There is so much we have to do and so many roles we have to fill; I think talented, hard-working, and mission-driven people can definitely find a role and a team that will fulfil every professional aspiration they might have as long as they understand what is expected and the behaviors that they will be required to exhibit. The second is one I give to all people who ask me for career advice – I think it is imperative that people follow their passion in choosing a role. We succeed at what we do when we are excited, energized, and inspired. Too many people focus on the career instead of what energizes them. You can never go wrong by understanding what really makes your heart jump and doing that.
Anything else you want to share?
I would just say that I feel very fortunate to be part of the Highmark Health family. We are doing some amazing things here, things I have always dreamed of doing. If you are a Highmark Health colleague, I appreciate what you have done to build this culture and hope that you take a second to realize what a special place and time this is. If you are looking at the Highmark Health organization, I encourage you to really take a deep look, because we are going to change how health care is delivered in this country.