Leaving a Legacy off the Battlefield

August 7, 2018 | Express Scripts

Each year on August 7, we recognize Purple Heart Day, a time for Americans to honor the brave men and women who were wounded or killed while serving in the military. Jared M. is an account executive at Express Scripts who received a Purple Heart in 2006 for wounds received in action in Iraq. He works in the public sector of our commercial division, managing 23 local government clients across the United States.

Finding a Path to the Military

In March of 2003, I found myself working in a dead-end job. I had graduated from high school in 2002 and didn’t think college was for me; I had no real direction in my life. But then I read a newspaper headline: “Marines Invade Iraq.” 9/11 was still fresh and after seeing that reality in bold print, a sense of motivation came over me. I was in the recruiter’s office the next day and arrived at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego a few months later. I graduated from training as an infantry Marine that August.

My first of two deployments to Iraq was in September of 2004 as a mobile infantryman. We were in charge of counter insurgency missions in Fallujah. Over the course of that deployment, I did 13 medical evacuations of fellow soldiers who had been injured on patrol. During my second deployment in September 2006, we stayed in the small town of Anah. While there, we saw more combat, casualties and fighting than on my first deployment. After 30 days in town, one-third of our company was wounded.

On November 25, 2006, we were out on a foot patrol when an IED went off, wounding just about everybody on the patrol. I was knocked out and when I came to, I realized what had happened. I found my radio operator and had him call in a quick reaction force; I set off a red flare to let our base know where we were and that there was an emergency; we started treating casualties and loading the injured into vehicles for medical evacuations. I was awarded the Purple Heart for my wounds received and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Valor for my actions.

At the end of that deployment, I was left with a decision to make: should I go to college or reenlist? A month before I was set to come home, a Marine close to me was killed and that decided it for me. It was time for me to return to civilian life.

Transitioning Back to Life as a Civilian

After leaving the Marines, I started school at Lindenwood University in St. Louis. The guy who had no desire to go to college ended up with a Bachelor’s in marketing, an MBA, and a Master’s in communications and training development. During that time, I also worked as a personal trainer. After four years of personal training, I spent a few years in higher education, first teaching and then as the director of education.

I found my way to Express Scripts when I saw a posting for a training consultant position on LinkedIn. Several interviews later, I had the job and started in September 2016. My primary role was training account executives in sales and negotiation, but soon I became interested in the account executive role. So I started learning everything I needed to be an account executive. It took about five months to get onto that team, and I’ve now been in the position for two months, acting as the face of Express Scripts in interactions with my clients.

The culture at Express Scripts is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. At previous companies, I felt like employees came second. Here, I feel appreciated by all levels of the organization and have found a good work/life balance. I also recently got involved in VaLOR (Veterans and Leaders Organizing Resources), Express Scripts’ Employee Resource Group for veterans. Express Scripts and VaLOR sponsored me for an Honor Flight last May. For those who might not know, the Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifices. It takes thousands of veterans to Washington, D.C. each year to celebrate their service and visit the monuments that pay tribute to them. I had the honor of being a guardian for a 90-year-old World War II veteran on his trip to D.C.

Outside of work, I spend time traveling with my wife and three children, playing hockey, and writing my memoir, which is about my experiences in Iraq and how I transitioned back to civilian life. A lot of veterans struggle to find a purpose after leaving the military, so I hope to inspire them by telling my story. I’m thankful for the multitude of programs I can take part in as a veteran and as an employee at Express Scripts, and I hope to give back to the Express Scripts community with a speaking engagement about my book and experiences this September.

Interested in exploring a career with Express Scripts? Visit our career site for a full list of open positions.

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Helping Patients Behind the Scenes

July 26, 2018 | Express Scripts

Taras S. is a staff accountant working at Accredo, Express Scripts’ specialty pharmacy.

Starting Out

I started my college career at University of Missouri – Kansas City with the intention of getting into pharmacy, where I could pursue a people-focused career. However, I wasn’t a huge fan of the advanced science courses required. So, I transferred to Missouri State University to pursue a degree in accounting.

Accounting was a much more natural fit; I had always been good with numbers and I knew that having a degree in accounting would broaden my opportunities in the corporate world. However, I have also always had a passion for helping people, so I wanted to find a way to use numbers to make a difference. That’s how I made my way to Express Scripts; the innovative work we do to make healthcare more affordable fulfilled my hunger to make a difference.

I applied for a staff accountant position with Accredo, an Express Scripts subsidiary, in August 2017, which married my background in finance with my passion for helping people. During the application process, my interviewers were sincere and very welcoming; I knew I could find a home in the organization. I received my offer in September and started at Express Scripts shortly after.

Making a Difference

Since September, I’ve spent a lot of my time overseeing drug manufacturer invoices; we have to make sure the manufacturers get paid so our specialty patients can get the medicine they need. It’s a good feeling knowing we help people with challenging conditions live more comfortably.

More recently, I’ve been working on invoices for hemophilia patients. Hemophilia is a genetic condition that keeps blood from clotting properly. There are fewer than 200,000 cases per year in the United States and the disorder mostly impacts children and young adults. Before working on these invoices, my knowledge of the disease was limited. But since learning more about hemophilia, I’ve come to realize how impactful the work I do behind the scenes is for patients.

Finding a Home at Express Scripts

Outside of work, I love going to the gym and staying healthy. I’m also pursuing an MBA with an emphasis in information systems at University of Missouri – St. Louis. I’m grateful that I’m able to further my education while working full time and I plan to apply for Express Scripts’ tuition reimbursement program, which will help further mitigate the cost of my education.

I found that my initial impressions of the warm, friendly culture at Express Scripts were spot on when I started work. Everyone I’ve met is friendly and cares about the work we do as well as their coworkers. My team, in particular, is extremely helpful and supportive; they’re the reason I stay. I’m thankful that I’m able to work with incredible people to help our patients every day.

Interested in exploring a career with Express Scripts? Visit our career site for a full list of open positions.

« The Intern Files: How an Express Scripts Intern Made the Leap to a Full-Time Role| Leaving a Legacy off the Battlefield »

The Intern Files: How an Express Scripts Intern Made the Leap to a Full-Time Role

July 11, 2018 | Express Scripts

Ola A. started with Express Scripts as an intern and recently transitioned into a full-time role as a Senior Manager, Business Analysis and Planning, working on initiatives that ensure we are effectively communicating with our members.

Finding My Way

My road to healthcare in the United States was long and winding. I studied electronic and electrical engineering as an undergrad in Nigeria, after which I earned my Masters in telecommunications technology in the UK. After a 9-year stint designing and deploying telecommunication networks around the world – including work on all five inhabited continents – I decided to pursue an MBA in the United States. I had observed a number of everyday problems during my work, like 5-hour traffic jams in Nigeria and the healthcare delivery system in the US, for example, and I realized I could use an MBA to tackle these problems. During my studies, this passion to solve everyday problems led me to start looking for internship opportunities in the healthcare sector.

During my internship search, I went to The Consortium Conference in St. Louis, where I attended a breakfast event hosted by Express Scripts. I initially was impressed not only by Express Scripts’ mission of making medicine more affordable, but also how profoundly it impacted the lives of millions of people. After Consortium, I was invited back to St. Louis to visit Express Scripts’ campus, where CEO Tim Wentworth spoke to us about deciding where you want to work and what criteria to use for that decision. I found his advice extremely helpful and was excited to see how invested top executives were in the internship program. Even after leaving the conference, executives remained involved in the program.

Becoming an Intern

After receiving my internship offer in June 2016, I ultimately decided to accept the following December because of both the opportunity to learn more about the healthcare sector and the company culture. I appreciated the friendly, relaxed atmosphere I observed during the interview process and was put at ease by the fact that even members  of the senior leadership team were more than happy to speak with me and answer any questions about the internship. I also valued the time I was given to make my decision about the program; being able to thoroughly weigh my options let me make the best decision for my career.

During my time as a Strategy and Transformation MBA intern, I was empowered to take full responsibility on my projects from start to finish. My biggest project was figuring out how to increase the number of members that utilize our mobile platform in order to ensure we are communicating in the most efficient and effective fashion. I was given complete independence to design a solution. My supervisor supported me, but also encouraged me to take initiative and own my work. I was also given autonomy to bridge multiple teams working on the same projects, which gave me an opportunity to network and act as a broker, even as an intern.

Advancing My Career

I appreciated the level of responsibility I was able to take on during my internship and was excited to be offered a full-time position in August 2017. Accepting the offer was a no-brainer: the latitude I was given to work on real business problems, the customer-driven culture of the organization, the work I was doing and the emphasis on equality of opportunity at Express Scripts made it easy to say yes.

Currently, I’m working as a senior manager of business analysis and planning, tasked with ensuring we communicate with our members the way they want to be communicated with. I’m happy to report that a culture of empowerment, support, initiative, drive and ambition has remained prevalent in my department and I look forward to continuing to develop as a team member and leader.

Interested in learning what a career or internship at Express Scripts could look like for you? Check out our career site for a full list of open positions.

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Honor Flight: What an Honor!

July 3, 2018 | Express Scripts

Drew H. is a senior manager of technology learning and development working to develop the talent and skills of technology employees.

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of going on my ninth flight with the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight. No matter how many times I go, I always feel privileged to be part of such a wonderful experience.

For those who may be unfamiliar, the Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifices. It takes thousands of veterans to Washington, D.C. each year to celebrate their service and visit the monuments that pay tribute to them.

While I’ve participated in Honor Flights since 2015 – when I had the honor of being a guardian for a 94-year old World War II Veteran – a flight that occurred this past March will always stand out in my mind.

We started the day at 5 a.m., when we met at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. As the Flight Leader, I was responsible for leading a team of eight other leaders – including two EMTs – to get the 22 veteran honorees to Washington, D.C. and back safely.

Once we landed in Washington, D.C., our police escort took us to our stops, which included the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the changing of the guard. As with all Honor Flights, it was a busy day, but one that was highly worth it. Nothing compares to seeing these veterans share their stories and reminisce with each other and even with other visitors at the memorials.

One of my favorite parts of each Honor Flight, happens at the airport before the return flight home. You see, the veterans all served before there was such a thing as email, so they looked forward to mail call, which was when they got letters from home. Just like when they served, we have mail call in the airport terminal during every Honor Flight, and each veteran receives a large envelope packed with all kinds of thank-you letters from friends, family members and local schoolchildren.

My other favorite part of the day is the Welcome Home Ceremony. It’s pretty special: Imagine coming home to hundreds of people, who are all cheering, applauding, waving American flags and thanking you for serving your country. The ceremony provides the proper welcome home that many of our veterans never received when they returned from war.

This March flight was extra special for me because it had several special connections to Express Scripts. This trip was named the “Express Scripts Flight,” because of our sponsorship. And Robin Wentworth, wife of Express Scripts President & CEO Tim Wentworth, graciously volunteered to be a guardian, and was responsible for providing one-on-one support to one of the 22 veterans on the trip.

Tim Wentworth, our CEO, served as a special guest speaker and flag bearer in the Sea of Flags portion of the Welcome Home Ceremony. The Sea of Flags is a cordon of American flags that greet the veterans when they return from their trip. Tim was one of 10 Express Scripts Sea of Flags volunteers.

 

As president of VaLOR (Veterans and Leaders Organizing Resources) — Express Scripts’ veterans Employee Resource Group — I’m proud to represent Express Scripts during the Honor Flights. And as a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I’m proud to work for a company whose CEO was kind enough to participate in the Honor Flight and talk about the importance of honoring our veterans’ selfless acts of service.

If you haven’t been part of an Honor Flight, I encourage you to do it! Whether you volunteer to be a guardian, write a thank-you note, or join the crowd for the Welcome Home Ceremony, I promise that your time will be well spent.

For more information about how you can get involved with the Honor Flight Network, visit www.honorflight.org.

Interested in exploring a career with Express Scripts? Visit our career site for a full list of open positions.

« No Longer Following the Textbook| The Intern Files: How an Express Scripts Intern Made the Leap to a Full-Time Role »

No Longer Following the Textbook

June 27, 2018 | Express Scripts

Johnna H. is the Director of Pharma Contracting on the Contract Strategy team and is responsible for the oversight of our proposal and contracting processes with Specialty Pharmaceutical Manufacturers.

I had a textbook life, if there is such a thing. I grew up in the Boston suburbs with my siblings, had a high school job, ran cross-country, played baseball, sang in chorus and acted in the school play. I married my high school sweetheart, Rebecca, moved to Florida, completed graduate school and became a parent to two beautiful children, Wayne and John. I coached T-ball and served as the co-committee chair for my son’s Cub Scout Pack. I love cheeseburgers, math, camping, hiking and running.

Although my story may seem somewhat typical from the outside, I was secretly struggling with an internal conflict and living in denial for as long as I can remember. Last year, I resolved that conflict when I admitted to myself that I am transgender and began my journey of transitioning. I am a transgender woman.

Gender identity can be a very confusing concept. The vast majority of the population is cisgender, which means that the gender they internally identify with aligns with their biological sex. For the remaining minority of the population, there is a mismatch between the two. It is hard — if not impossible — to put into plain words what it is like to have your mind, heart and soul be female and your body be male. It is as if the whole world is not seeing the real you.

Many who have already taken this path explained to me that this is a long and slow process. In contrast, my wife said, “You don’t do anything slowly.” You can probably guess who was right. Over the course of three months, I came out to the world, changed my legal name and started living life as Johnna. Being on this journey has been the most difficult thing I have ever done, but being true to myself has also been one of the most rewarding chapters of my life so far.

I am fortunate that I have received tremendous support from my wife, family, friends and co-workers. I am especially thankful for Express Scripts’ support during my transition and their commitment to diversity. My first job in high school was with Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, a subsidiary of Express Scripts. This means that for more than half of my life, the Express Scripts family has been by my side during life’s challenges. I was relieved to learn that this transition would be no different. People always ask how everyone is taking the change at work. I always reply: hugs and smiles.

Part of the mission of the EXPRESSions, Express Scripts’ LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, is to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole self to work, feeling secure, respected and accepted. A large part of me wants to simply blend in as just another woman and not share my story. However, if it helps someone else be true to their self and raises awareness of transgender issues, then being “out” is worth it.

Since starting this new chapter, I have experienced feelings that I have never felt before. When I described them to my wife, she said that these are feelings of peace and calmness. I am glad I am no longer living a textbook life, and I cannot imagine it any other way.

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