Never Underestimate the Power of Networking

December 6, 2016 | Express Scripts

When I joined Express Scripts as a training specialist in 2012, my first few months were challenging. I came to the organization when the company was going through a huge merger, and the business was working hard and fast to bring together two large organizations. The environment and culture were different from companies where I had previously worked. As a new hire, I was finding my communication style was too direct for my colleagues and peers.

I was fortunate that my hiring manager gave me honest feedback and coaching on a consistent basis. I was challenged to reframe my approach consistently and more effectively. Because of this, I was able to grow and develop my communication skills and increase my network of business contacts. Once I realized communication and building relationships could be my biggest asset, I soon realized what doors would open for me.

Getting Involved

I began to set my sights on other roles within the company. In order to do that, I knew I needed to meet the right people, but more importantly, I needed to make sure that the people I would meet had a favorable impression of me. Though networking is about meeting key players, the more critical component to networking is building and maintaining relationships as well as correctly portraying your personal brand. I started by joining a couple of Express Scripts’ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). As an ERG member, I was given the opportunity to attend networking events, where I met people from different departments. I had the chance to fine tune my communication skills and learn more about our business. It was through these networking opportunities that I was able to build the connections I needed to start exploring roles in other parts of the business.

In 2015, I got the opportunity to be part of the Red Hat Support team. This team is comprised of a diverse team of employees from all parts of the business who go on-site with our clients and provide support during their benefits implementations. In this role, I was able to work with the implementation team and learn more about their responsibilities. It was an amazing experience and cultivated my desire to work more with our clients.

The Doors Began to Open

I received positive feedback for my work with the Red Hat Support Team. My work ethic and willingness to stretch myself contributed to my promotion to senior training specialist in April of this year. I continued to keep in touch with my contacts on the Implementation team as my desire to work with our clients never lost steam. My ability to maintain good working relationships, coupled with solid performance in my existing role, positioned me to join the team as an implementation manager in August.

Through it all, I never lost sight of the power of networking. I learned that a simple request to keep in touch, an occasional lunch, or chat in the hallway can take you miles if you approach each opportunity as if you are informally interviewing for your next role. Today, I continue to take advantage of networking opportunities through my involvement with the UpNext ERG. I never miss the opportunity to connect and learn from the people I meet.

Want to learn more about a career at Express Scripts? Visit our career site and take a look at our open positions.

Kendrick is an Implementation Manager at Express Scripts, supporting Sales and Account Management, managing new client relationships to ensure a seamless transition.

« Making Moves: From Administrative Assistant to Vice President|

Making Moves: From Administrative Assistant to Vice President

November 29, 2016 | Express Scripts

When I started as an administrative assistant for a small prescription benefit manager (PBM) at age 19, little did I know I would one day become a vice president of a Fortune 22 company.

After all, I was just out of high school and needed a job. I didn’t have a college degree yet and became pretty content in my entry-level role as an administrative assistant. It’s hard to believe that at the time, I had no long-term career aspirations given that today, my career has helped shape me as a person.

Over the years, I have learned countless lessons and built lasting relationships that have transformed my life from someone who just needed a job to a leader who is passionate about helping people grow in their own careers. How did I do it? How did I build my career here while experiencing several mergers and also completing my degree? It took hard work, opportunities, amazing co-workers and finding myself. Oh, and I always made sure to have some fun, too.

Opportunity Knocks

The small PBM where I started as an administrative assistant eventually became part of Express Scripts and I was asked to help with the integration. This opportunity allowed me to learn about adapting to change, and developing project management skills. My leader at the time pushed me out of my comfort zone, making me take on harder projects and watching me succeed in new and challenging situations. Once I knew I could get through these challenges, I gradually became more confident in myself.

Throughout all of my job changes, I built relationships with people all over Express Scripts. In one role, I partnered with our Technology department and created a process to automate our vendor options and rates. Another role supported the Technology project office by helping create cost estimates for client projects. I even found myself supporting our legal team by conducting research and gathering critical information from people across the company.

While I was the corporate travel manager, I frequently presented policy changes to senior leadership. I developed some thick skin during these days as I was enforcing policy to manage expenses across the company. During my time in corporate procurement, I was also asked to start our Supplier Diversity Program from the ground up. We had just won a large contract that required us to spend a certain percentage with small businesses. I was fortunate to interact with a community of minority and women-owned small businesses in both Minnesota and Missouri to help fulfill our client requirements. This role gave me even more perspective.

In 2007, I interviewed and was selected for my first people leader role within Account Management. That gave me a taste of what clients need and how our teams fulfilled these requests. That led to becoming a senior director in Account Management and eventually to my current position as vice president of Sales and Account Management Operations.

Through it all, I never shied away from new opportunities.

Teachable Moments

Along the way, I also made some mistakes. I started one new role and wanted to immediately change the way things were done. I didn’t take the time to learn from the previous manager, and this experience taught me to always take advantage of the wisdom there for me.

I also went back to school in 2005. I’m a perpetual learner and always felt that earning a degree was an important achievement I wanted to add to my repertoire. So I tapped into our tuition reimbursement program and used the full amount each year until I finished my business management degree. It was hard balancing a full-time job and taking college classes, but it was worth it.

I learned embracing change was the best way to navigate Express Scripts’ shifting waters. In an always-changing industry, constantly growing can help you to be recognized and given challenging opportunities.

Leading the Way

My experience here has helped me develop a leadership style that I’d call “empowering.” I trust my team and work to empower them. If someone asks me for advice, I ask what they think should be done. More often than not, they already have the right answer. Using that approach allows them to realize they can trust themselves and empowers them to take action on their own in the future. Honesty is also important. I tell my team members the good, the bad and the ugly. All feedback helps you grow.

If I had to give one piece of advice to anyone starting a new job at Express Scripts, or really any company in general, it would be to keep an open mind. You might be asked to do something that isn’t in your bailiwick. Go for it. These opportunities could change your life as they have changed mine. But, don’t forget to have some fun along the way.

Feeling empowered by Dusty’s story? Visit our career site for a look at all of our open positions.

Dusty is a Vice President at Express Scripts currently leading the Sales and Account Management Operations team.

 

« Tuition Assistance: Not Just a Benefits Afterthought| Never Underestimate the Power of Networking »

Tuition Assistance: Not Just a Benefits Afterthought

November 14, 2016 | Jessie Wiese

When evaluating a job offer or applying for a new job, one of the most influential factors, outside of pay, is the company’s benefits package. While the main aspects of most company benefits are insurance, 401k and paid time off, one important feature is often forgotten: tuition assistance.

Today, the price of secondary education in the U.S. now rivals that of a family home, including insurance, utilities and two cars in the garage. Express Scripts wants to lessen the financial burden for employees who want to earn their degree, by including the Tuition Assistance Program as a part of our overall benefits package.

“The Tuition Assistance Program is a benefit we offer employees to help them pursue either a two or four-year degree,” said HR Services Director Andrea DeCamp, who oversees the program. “Employees simply submit an application and provide the required paperwork, and we will reimburse them up $5,250 a year tax- free – the maximum allowed by the IRS, which usually includes books and most fees.”

We have relationships with over 250 accredited universities, allowing us to provide discounted tuition prices, and we manage the reimbursement process for employees. Employees’ dependents can also take advantage of the discounted tuition prices (but will not be reimbursed for tuition costs by the company).

Once an employee has been with the company for six months, they are eligible for the tuition assistance.

Two employees who have taken advantage of Tuition Assistance are Kyle Knoke, a Commercial Division account manager, and Dan Winkler, associate HR project manager. Both enrolled in the program to earn their MBAs.

Knoke liked the accessibility of Tuition Assistance. “It’s a pretty simple, user friendly process. I submitted my proof of payment on time and was reimbursed after I passed my classes,” he said. “If anybody’s looking to advance their education and career with Express Scripts, Tuition Assistance is a great benefit to take advantage of.”

Winkler agrees. “It’s pretty self-explanatory and logical – just complete it one piece at a time,” he said. “If you plan out each semester’s classes based on the max amount per year, you could end up completing a [college] program for free. If you’re taking classes and not using it, you’re just leaving money on the table.”

If continuing your education is something you’re considering, it’s important to take a close look at the company’s benefit package as a whole, including tuition assistance. Depending on the extent of the company’s assistance, it is possible to complete an entire college program for free.

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Riding for Our Lives

October 18, 2016 | Express Scripts

Multiple Sclerosis is not even fun to say, much less think about. This horrible disease affects the brain and spinal cord, changing and hindering how the brain sends messages to different parts of the body, affecting patients’ thought processes, emotions and physical abilities.

But until a cure is found, the MS Society has discovered a surprisingly effective way to battle the disease – ride a bike. BikeMS is the largest bicycle-based fundraising campaign in the world, having raised more than a billion dollars for disease research and treatment. Express Scripts officially fields BikeMS teams in Memphis, St. Louis and Orlando.

Here is the story of one of those 2015 event team members: Pharmacy Director Joe Casaccia, who has a stronger connection to the event than most.

 

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Joe Casaccia, pharmacy director, Accredo (right), and his daughter, Mary Claire

I’m sure you get the same question I do from your kids: what do you do at work?

I could tell my 14-year old daughter, Mary Claire, about going to meetings or writing reports or improving processes. Those are things that I do, but it’s not the end product. Honestly, my work (and probably yours too) is all about helping people lead lives that are as healthy as possible.

So, when I recently had the chance to show Mary Claire what I do, rather than just tell her about it, I went for it.

In May, 10 co-workers and I participated in the Mid-Florida Bike MS event. The two-day, 100-mile bike ride was a lot of fun, but for us it’s more than colorful Accredo bike uniforms and getting some exercise. It’s really personal.

We work in the Accredo Therapeutic Resource Center in Orlando that focuses on Multple Sclerosis, so we talk every day with patients who have MS, an inflammatory disease where the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate causing patients to experience a wide range of symptoms, such as difficulty with balance and coordination, muscle weakness and a general feeling of being tired.

 

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From left, Donna Alum, Jose Ayala, Mary Claire Casaccia, Joe Casaccia, Rosie Jiminez and Joe Abarca

Stress can aggravate MS, so if there is an issue with a prescription, it literally can ruin a patient’s day. Our work is focused on making their relationship with us easy and stress-free, so they can be as healthy as possible.

The bike event brings a great amount of awareness and funding to help researchers fight this disease. And for me, I was proud to bring more awareness to Mary Claire about the work I do and why I do it.

During the ride, she gained a better understanding about who I help at work. The patients we help are more than names on screens, and we’re more than routing calls and processing prescriptions. When you elevate our work, we’re about making a real difference in the quality of peoples’ lives.

 

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From left, Vanessa Negri, David Crane, Jim Bruhn, Jodi  Bruhn, Donna Alum, Joe Casaccia, Jose Ayala, Mary Claire Casaccia, Rosie Jiminez, Joe Abarca

During the ride, our Accredo team became friendly with another team that called themselves “Annie’s Army.” There were 27 riders on that team, and while we rode, they told us about Annie. She is someone with end-stage MS, and while I don’t believe she is an Accredo patient, talking about her and seeing the inspiration she gave to that team was very inspiring to all of us riding in our Accredo bike jerseys.

I’m glad that Mary Claire agreed to take a bike ride with her dad, and I’m proud that she got to see another side of our work and understand why I do what I do every day.

At the time of publication, Express Scripts will be participating in the Express Scripts Gateway Getaway BikeMS ride in St. Louis, and the FedEx Rock N’ Roll Ride in Memphis on Sept. 10-11.

« A Question for the Boss – Ask Me Anything| Tuition Assistance: Not Just a Benefits Afterthought »

A Question for the Boss – Ask Me Anything

October 12, 2016 | Express Scripts

When Express Scripts employees expressed the desire for more frequent communication with senior leadership, they decided to dedicate time each month to let any of Express Scripts’ 27,000 employees ask them any question they wanted. They aptly called it the “Ask Me Anything” series, and it has been one of the most popular internal developments of 2016.

Starting at the end of 2015 with Sr. VP Operations Christine Houston, CFO Eric Slusser, Sr. VP Sales & Account Management Dave Queller, CEO Tim Wentworth, Sr. VP Clinical Research & New Solutions & Chief Innovation Officer Dr. Glen Stettin, and Sr. VP Home Delivery & Member Experience Don Fotsch have all had their time in the chair, fielding questions on topics ranging from personal preferences to tough business decisions.

Here are some of the questions, and the leaders’ answers, directly from those sessions:

Q. Employee: What would be your advice for an employee that wishes to move up within the company? What would be some ways one would go about doing so? Thanks.

a. Sr. Vice President Dave Queller: The fastest way to move up is to do your work and work really hard. It’s great that you have support from your managers, but at the end of the day you own your own development. Think about it this way: Who is on your personal board of directors? That’s the group of people at work and outside of work who help you develop yourself as a person and a professional. You should rely on them to help you in your career advancement.

Q. Hi Eric. Thank you for doing this. It helps those of us that don’t walk the St. Louis halls get to know you! I was curious what surprised you the most after you started working here? What was your biggest disappointment? What were you the most excited about? Thanks for your time!

a. CFO Eric Slusser: I expected a lot from Express Scripts and I haven’t been disappointed one bit. We are a busy company and we do complicated work. We operate in a complex industry. That means our jobs can take up more time than we might otherwise plan for, but at the same time, people take their work very seriously and understand that there is a patient on the other end of the line who is waiting for us to get their prescription right. That’s a powerful motivator. As I make my rounds here in St. Louis and in our other sites, I am consistently inspired that we have so many people who are so passionate about doing the right thing for patients. Keeping that mindset, we will continue to be successful.

Q. Employee: Hi Tim – Thank you for taking the time to do this. Have you considered allowing employees to rate/review their managers, as a way for employees to have a voice and for their managers to have the opportunity to get feedback from their direct reports? How does our ‘manager’s manager’ current evaluate our manager’s people leader skills?

a. CEO Tim Wentworth: Love your thinking here and we do for some managers use a tool that includes 360 degree feedback, so that we do hear from everyone – direct reports, peers, and supervisors. I hope the majority of our leaders seek guidance from their teams about how they can improve and be better leaders for their organizations. And all of us should be confident and secure in providing feedback to our supervisors.

Q. Employee: Hi Tim. What can I (and other Express Scripts employees) do to make the most of one-on-one weekly meetings with our leaders?

a. CEO Tim Wentworth: What I find valuable in one-on-one meetings, and the things I find important in preparation are: 1. Have a list of important things to discuss written out when you come to the meeting, 2. Prioritize your items by the most important, and 3. Have an opinion in your head about the issue you want clarity on, and look for guidance, not passing responsibility.

So many people will walk out of a one-on-one without remembering what they heard. You should never leave the meeting with unanswered questions. Better to ask and look like you don’t know something instead of moving forward with the wrong plan because you thought you understood.

Q. Employee: I really appreciate you and all our leaders taking the time to answer questions and share insight into Express Scripts and your personal success. For first-time people leaders, what advice or recommendations would you give for transitioning from project manager into people leader? As a follow-up, what book are you reading right now or is there one you would suggest every manager read? Thanks, fellow engineer!

a. Sr. Vice President Don Fotsch: Changing the world through healthcare is not a small feat. But it’s the feat we’re choosing to pursue.

Two books I’d recommend: “The Digital Doctor,” which gives you a very pragmatic sense of the challenges and opportunities with healthcare. Another book, “Return on Character,” demonstrates a strong statistical connection between high integrity and trusting organizations and financial results.

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