From Express Scripts to Brazil and Back Again: Creating Opportunity through Meaningful Reporting Relationships
February 8, 2017 | Express Scripts
My tenure with Express Scripts has been nothing short of eventful. Over the course of nine years, I’ve held positions in four offices in three different cities. While I’ve learned a great deal during my time here, the one lesson that stands out is the need to create meaningful reporting relationships. Without that lesson, I may have never been able to return after leaving the company in 2015.
Saying Goodbye – For Now
After celebrating our first wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided to live out a long nurtured passion and embark on a missionary trip to Manaus, Brazil. It was a journey we both had on our bucket lists before we met and we felt it was time to bring to fruition.
With a heavy heart, I made the tough decision to leave Express Scripts in September of 2015. Although I knew I was making the right decision by choosing Brazil, it didn’t make leaving any easier.
Prior to my departure, I made a personal promise to myself to keep in touch with a few leaders in the Human Resources department in hopes of finding an opportunity to return to Express Scripts at the conclusion of my trip.
While in Brazil, I sent emails back and forth to a few of my past co-workers and leaders. This was just my way of saying hello and keeping in touch. In some I shared pictures I took throughout my trip and in others I shared stories about my experience.
After six months in 115 degree weather and strenuous conditions, my husband and I returned to the States with humble hearts and an immense appreciation for life at home. I discovered that while I was away, I had received an unexpected, but highly anticipated, email from one of my past leaders at Express Scripts. To my surprise, she told me there was an HR Senior Advisor position open within Employee and Labor Relations and she thought I would be a perfect fit. I was overwhelmed she thought of me after all this time – and thankful I kept my promise and managed to maintain relationships through email while I was gone!
Accepting the job was a no-brainer. After all, Employee Relations was my passion. I felt that way when I left for Brazil and, in all honesty, the trip only cultivated my passion even more. Being immersed in a new culture and expected to find ways of building rapport with people in all walks of life was an incredible experience. With the new appreciation and perspective I gained, I knew I was ready for anything.
Appreciation and Compassion
From day one, I have always found Express Scripts to be a place where I can build a life I love. Coming back has only made that feeling stronger. My time here has enabled me the balance of growing personally, as well as professionally.
I returned with a newfound compassion for the people I come across on a daily basis, and that only makes me better at my job when helping employees bring forward their concerns.
My tenure here, albeit full of change, has been extremely rewarding. While I might not encourage everyone to take the path I did, I would advocate doing what you can to educate yourself and have the courage to make the moves that fit your lifestyle. If you do decide to take the leap and make a move, always remember to create meaningful reporting relationships. If you do, I promise it can take you miles.
Karina is a Senior HR Advisor within the Advisor Services Team.
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My “Aha” Moments: 4 Pieces of Advice I Would Give My Younger Self
February 2, 2017 | Express Scripts
Maybe it’s the New Year, or the fact that my daughters are quickly approaching their college years, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my career path and how I got to where I am today. More specifically, I’ve tried to identify the crucial “aha moments” I’ve had along the way.
As I was finishing up graduate school at Towson University, I took a job as a recruiter for a staffing placement agency. I worked on 100% commission with no base pay (an especially tricky task for a newlywed) before moving into a management position. The job taught me a great deal about people – arguably more than my previous job at a psychiatric hospital – and helped me get acclimated to the Human Resources industry.
Over the next 14 years, I held various leadership positions at Asbury Services (healthcare), Citigroup, and Maritz before transitioning back into the healthcare field. In February 2011, I was recruited for an HR leadership role with Express Scripts. Since joining the company, I’ve held the roles of HR Director for IT, VP HR Generalists for Operations and VP HR Shared Services, before assuming my current role as VP HR Strategy and Talent Management.
While on paper this looks like a pretty smooth and straightforward career path, I can tell you it did not always feel that way, as I moved laterally several times. Remember the “aha moments” I mentioned? If I knew in my early years what I know now, I could have saved myself a great deal of stress.
So, here it goes – other than buy Google and Amazon stock early – this is the advice I would give my younger self:
Find Comfort in Ambiguity
Countless times throughout my career, I walked into situations where the goal and path to get there were not always clear. That’s just business! Being willing to move forward with uncertainty and figure out the solution along the way has created countless opportunities.
Be Flexible and Bold
In my career, I have always been flexible, but perhaps not bold enough at times; specifically, when it came to addressing conflicts. There are a few times I wish I would have moved faster. Whether it’s a conflict with a boss, peer, or direct report, it is important to constructively deal with the problem before it gets out of hand.
Learn How Your Boss Thinks
I once had a boss that often explained the reasons behind his decisions. He would walk me through his thought process step- by-step so I could understand how he made decisions. I realized during one of these conversations that if you can figure out how your boss thinks, you both will be more successful in getting the job done and staying aligned. This learning has always stuck with me!
Working hard will help you get where you want to be, but working smart is the key. I learned a lot about continuous improvement early in my career. The mindset of constantly looking to remove wasted energy has helped me get a lot done and in less time. While there have been many long hours in my past, I know I have been more productive by learning how to be efficient instead of just working even more.
Although I can’t go back and reset the clock on my own career, I hope those entering and finishing their college years – like my daughters – can take something away from my experience. Learning from those ‘aha moments’ early on can help you navigate through your career a lot more smoothly.
Mike is VP of HR Strategy and Talent Management, working to align HR to drive value in the business.
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My Disability Won’t Keep Me Down
January 25, 2017 | Express Scripts
As Tom Hanks so famously said in Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” To me, these are important words to remember and live by.
As a child, I was always very active and participated in a wide variety of sports. However, when I was just 19 years old, I began to have problems getting up out of a chair or off the couch. My mother made the trek with me to three different doctors to find out why this was happening. When no one had the answers, she took me to a hospital emergency room. It was there that a specialist discovered I had arthritis and a nerve disease. From that point on, I was required to wear special shoes and start taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs.
Over the years, I have suffered broken bones and multiple injuries to my Achilles tendon and foot as a direct result of my condition. I have been in a wheelchair eight times – each time for a period of 12 to 18 weeks. After 30 years of treatment with NSAIDs, I developed stage 3 kidney disease. Because of this, for the past decade, I have been unable to take any pain medication, so I rely on over-the-counter creams, essential oils and hot baths to help ease the pain.
Although I was not born with a disability, I have been disabled to some extent all of my adult life. However, I don’t let my disability keep me down. I look at the rest of the world and know there are many people with bigger troubles than my own.
Every day, I make a conscious effort to wake up with a positive attitude and pursue my passion for helping others, solving problems and making the workplace the best it can be. I’ve worked at Express Scripts for 23 years and, in my current role, I get to focus on helping employees live their best lives using the benefits Express Scripts offers. I joined Express PossAbilities, one of our Employee Resource Groups, because I am passionate about what they are doing to promote disability awareness in our workplace. I feel very fortunate to work for a company who proactively and willingly embraces inclusion.
While I make a tremendous effort to pursue my passion at work, I also focus on truly living at home. I have an electric cart and, when I am able, I go shopping and traveling. I plan to have a great time living life to the fullest.
In many ways, my disability has helped shape who I am as a person. It’s influenced my career choice, as well as my outlook on life, in big ways. If you take just one thing away from my story, I hope it’s the realization that not everyone is born with their disability. Disabilities can turn up later in life, sometimes when you least expect it. My message to you is to take care of your body and do the best you can to stay healthy. Do your part to enable your body to its fullest, but if life throws you a curve ball, know you can get through anything with determination and a positive attitude.
Karen is a Sr. Benefit Specialist on the Human Resources team.
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I Beat Cancer with Faith, Friends and Family
January 24, 2017 | Express Scripts
In my role with Accredo (Express Scripts’ specialty pharmacy), I manage a team that helps cancer patients get access to their medications. A big part of this job revolves around understanding the fear, apprehension and stress patients experience when reaching out to us. I have a special connection to these patients, because I am a breast cancer survivor.
A Day I’ll Never Forget
On December 18, 2007, I found a lump in my left breast. I freaked out. After seeing both my primary care physician and my OB/GYN, I had a mammogram and an ultrasound to determine if the lump was just a cyst or something more serious. Since neither test showed anything abnormal, I was referred to a breast specialist for a biopsy. My husband Mike and I had to wait for the results, but the specialist told us to be prepared that it may be cancer.
Mike and I drove around for what seemed like hours that day trying to comprehend what we had been told. At the time, my daughters were seven and ten, and I was terrified I might not get to see them grow up.
The next day, while at work, I got a call around noon. It was then I learned I had cancer. I was absolutely shocked and at a loss. A work friend saw me crying and helped me into a conference room. Upon hearing the news, my manager, along with another work friend, drove me home.
That Saturday, Mike and I were trying to wrap our minds around what needed to be done. I was so overwhelmed. I got lost driving my daughter to a birthday party and both of us ended up in tears. We found the party, but I realized I just didn’t feel like myself. It all felt so odd ― even with the cancer diagnosis, life was still going on around me. In that moment, I decided I was still the same person I had been and the diagnosis was not going to define me. We would fight this, and we would win!
Mike and I met with surgeons and oncologists to determine how to proceed. I was scheduled to go on medical leave on January 18, have a left-side mastectomy on the 25th, and start chemotherapy three weeks later. The game plan included four rounds of chemo with no radiation. Needless to say, the process was overwhelming, and my girls were scared.
On the day I was scheduled to start medical leave, my mother-in-law passed away suddenly. This shocked Mike and I to the core and we immediately went to my father-in-law’s aide. Little did I know, my colleagues, who are like my second family, had planned a surprise to celebrate my last day at work for a while.
When Mike and I went to the office later that afternoon – after things were settled with his family – words cannot adequately express what we walked into. Colleagues lined the walkway giving us hugs, expressing their condolences and wishing me well. As we made our way down the walk, we were ushered into the breakroom where more coworkers were waiting to shower us with baskets of goodies. We were simply shocked by the outpouring of love for us and so truly blessed!
That day only helped confirm I was still the same person I was prior to my diagnosis, and with all the love and support around me, I was going be OK and able to return to work.
Over the next six months, loved ones supported us every step of the way. When I went back to work the first week of July, I was thrilled to return to my team – who had taken care of everything for me while I was gone.
A Newfound Understanding
Since beating cancer, I have been able to minister to so many women and give them encouragement during their battles. At work, I am even more passionate about Accredo’s mission because I have a true understanding of how a day in the life of someone on chemo or dealing with cancer looks. I try to ensure my team understands those feelings and knows what they do daily truly impacts patient’s lives.
When I hear my team interact with cancer patients, I am filled with pride for how well they listen to the patient’s needs and do a small part to provide hope and comfort.
Though this chapter of my life has been a filled with its fair share of challenges, it has given me a new appreciation of the work I do at Accredo and a reminder of how many people I have supporting me. Through it all, I beat cancer with the help of my faith, friends and family.
Diane is a Supervisor, Eligibility working in Accredo’s Specialty Oncology division.
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Making a Difference in Pharmacy – How I Honor My Brother’s Legacy
January 18, 2017 | Express Scripts
My younger brother, Chad, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of four, and the diagnosis forever changed my family – especially me. For those who may be unfamiliar, Type 1 diabetes is a life-threatening autoimmune disease. There is no way to prevent it and currently, there is no cure.
As a first-grader, I was trained by a registered nurse on how to give injections, manage hypoglycemic events and take the best possible care of my little brother. I did so daily thereafter.
In college, I chose to study pharmacy. Upon graduation, I strived to be the best pharmacist I could be, while working with specialists to try to find a cure for diabetes. I went on to become a diabetic educator and a board certified geriatric pharmacist. I owe who I became solely to Chad.
Through accomplishments in his own life, Chad taught me how to face challenges, get back up when life knocks me down, never take no for an answer and refuse to live life by a diagnosis code. He was a star athlete, even though his doctors advised him not to play sports. I watched him letter as a freshman at The Ohio State University and graduate top in his college class in actuarial science. Chad earned his MBA all the while working full time for JP Morgan Chase for nearly two decades.
Recently, I lost my brother. While the loss has been devastating, it has only further motivated me to transition my passion into a purpose that will honor Chad and his legacy. I have been blessed to accomplish the depth of training that enabled me to best care for Chad all those years. I have been lucky to work for a company for more than 21 years that aligns with my passion for patient safety and improved outcomes, while supporting diabetes care.
Today, Express Scripts is improving diabetic patient outcomes through the Diabetes Therapeutic Resource Center, Diabetes Remote Monitoring and the Diabetes Care Value Program. In my current role here, I offer these solutions to clients to help manage costs and improve care for their diabetic members, like Chad.
In the future, in addition to managing the disease, we must continue to fund diabetes research with hopes to one day find a cure. My family and I, as well as Express Scripts, are big supporters of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I encourage you to learn more about their efforts in creating a world without Type 1 diabetes.
I miss Chad every day, but I honor his legacy by doing what I can to make a difference. I’m a better person, and pharmacist, because of him.
Want to explore how you can pursue your passion and make a difference, like Amy? Visit our career site for a list of our open positions.
Amy is a Senior Clinical Account Executive supporting the Health Plan Division.
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