Finding My Path: 3 Pieces of Advice I Would Give My Younger Self

January 11, 2018 | Express Scripts

Kelly Dowdy is a senior director of software engineering in our Austin office, working to improve Express Scripts’ digital products that service over 83 million Americans.

When I look at my career, it’s clear why I chose technology – my love for math and engineering.  I took my first computer programming course as a high school freshman. During this time, my interest in math transformed into a love for programming.  Combining math with problem solving skills to crack real world dilemmas fascinated me then; and still does today.  Throughout the rest of high school, I took as many courses as I possible in software development before studying information systems and computer science at Carnegie Mellon University.

While figuring out what was next in my career, I was drawn to Express Scripts and their mission to make prescription drugs safer and more affordable for millions of Americans. The ability to develop technology that impacts the lives of 83 million people is extremely exciting. Even better, my family already used Express Scripts’ services so making their lives better made my decision easy.

While I’ve had an extremely enjoyable and rewarding career, there are a few lessons I know now that I wish I would have known earlier. So, in the spirit of spreading the knowledge, here are three pieces of advice I would give my younger self:

Raise your hand

Early in my career, I was hesitant to talk to my boss about my career interests and ask about other opportunities within the company. I thought it might offend my boss that I wanted to leave their group.  So instead, I relied on finding my next growth opportunity though the company job website.  Eventually I became frustrated in my search and started looking externally. When I submitted my resignation, my boss and mentor offered their connections across the company and urged me to reconsider. Sure enough, within two days an internal position opened up that aligned perfectly with my growing career interests.

This was a teachable moment! I realized that leaders are excited when members of their team ask for more opportunities, not offended. They want to invest in your career, so don’t be afraid to raise your hand. Positions can be created for people internally or special projects can be assigned to give you exposure to areas of the business outside your current position.

Find a mentor

I’ve been lucky to have a mentor since my very first day on the job. These mentors help guide my career path, prepare me for interviews, and provide advice and feedback.  As I advance in my career I also find value in having a “blind spot” mentor.  This is someone who not only has your back, but provides candid insight to my shortfalls, enabling me to take action and thus hopefully become a better leader.   In the latter part of my career this has been invaluable for my growth and development.

Break away from the predefined “career path”

When I started my career, I thought there were predefined steps I must follow to become a leader.   In my mind I’d start with position A, move on to position B, and so on and so forth.  A trusted colleague challenged this thinking and led me to the realization that there are no set career paths – everyone’s path is different.

Instead of defining what role you should have and when, focus on building critical skills and competencies through experience. That’s what’s really important. Look for gaps in your skills and abilities and find ways to grow these through experiences.  I’ve found this approach to be very fulfilling and helpful.  Embrace that new role or a special project.   This change in mindset has made me a more well-rounded leader in every way.

Interested in furthering your career with an opportunity at Express Scripts? Check out our career site for a full list of open positions.

« Never Give Up| Going the Extra Mile for Troops Far From Home »

Never Give Up

December 15, 2017 | Express Scripts

Elaine D. is a Human Resources Service Center Assistant working to address inbound calls and emails from employees, leaders and HR regarding policies, procedures, benefits, compensation, payroll, HRIS and other general HR information.

Up until 2011, I thought I had it all – a wonderful husband, four children, and a loving and financially secure life. My husband and I had a flourishing family business and I felt right with life. Until one day when we received the news – my husband had been diagnosed with heart issues.

My husband was not only the nucleus of our family; he was the center of the family business as well. So when he became ill and couldn’t work any longer, I knew I had to step in. We had several employees working for us and I felt compelled to keep it afloat, not only for them, but also because I knew this business meant the world to my husband. Almost every day he would ask me, ‘How are things? How is everyone doing?’ I never had the heart to tell him the truth; without him there, it just wasn’t the same.

After one year of battling his disease, in 2012, my husband took a turn for the worse and suddenly I was a widow at 47 years old. I knew I couldn’t hold on to the company without him. So, with the support of our friends and family, after he passed I made the decision to close the company – it was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make.

With a mortgage and two children at home, I decided to go back to school – yes me, now grandma to two new baby girls. However, it was one of the most important decisions I have ever made.

At the time, I was working at a local company, while attempting to manage our family income and adjusting to life without my husband. I knew it wasn’t my dream job, so I started taking time to figure out exactly what it was I wanted to do for my career. I kept coming back to one thing — the joy I found while running the personnel side of the family business. I knew to get where I wanted to be, I needed to further my education. So, I found the right school that offered a Human Resource Management program, a perfect fit for my schedule.

In my search, I realized my employer provided tuition reimbursement as a benefit and it sparked my interest. Tuition reimbursement allots a certain amount of money for educational related expenses, such as classes and books. It’s not only a great benefit for someone like me, who finds themselves with new budgetary needs, but for anyone looking to further their education.

Not only did tuition assistance help me financially, but as I read through the program details I realized it would keep me in check too. Like many tuition assistance programs, you need to submit your grades and keep a certain average in order to maintain the benefit. With working full time and all the other priorities in life, I knew this was the right set up for me, and I was hungry for the opportunity.

While completing my degree, I accepted a new job as a Human Resources Service Assistant at Express Scripts and was excited to learn the company provided a tuition assistance program that was even more fruitful than my previous employer. My new position at Express Scripts took what I experienced through my late husband’s business to an entirely new level and I began to realize that my dreams could actually become a reality.

Sure, it’s not easy working full time and furthering my education, but I’ve found what I learn in class helps me even more in my day-to-day work at Express Scripts. Not only have I learned how to manage the many different legal aspects of Human Resources, but I also have learned how to successfully become the liaison for each employee I speak with, ensuring their questions, concerns, and/ or issues are handled with the same respect I would love to receive for myself.

While I can never express how grateful I am for the opportunity the tuition assistance program has afforded me, I am happy to say I am on track to graduate in March 2018. I consider myself very fortunate to have a family who supports me, an employer that provides me with the tools I need to get to my next career level and my angel looking down on me from above. I know he would be so proud of me.

Interested in taking a next step in your career journey? Check out our career site for a full list of our open positions.  


« Prescription for Success: 3 Lessons I Learned as an Express Scripts Intern| Finding My Path: 3 Pieces of Advice I Would Give My Younger Self »

Prescription for Success: 3 Lessons I Learned as an Express Scripts Intern

December 1, 2017 | Express Scripts

Mary Jane R. is an intern on the Home Delivery and Member Services team, working to analyze data and identify problems.

As an undergraduate student majoring in engineering management at Missouri University of Science & Technology, I’m still unsure about what I want to do post-graduation. Thankfully, internships are a great way to help me decide what I want my career path to look like, and this summer I received an internship offer from the largest pharmacy benefit management organization in the United States: Express Scripts.

Throughout the interview process, the University Relations team worked to find a position that matched my education and career goals. Because of my experience with quality and data analytics, I became a Home Delivery & Member Services Intern.

In early May, each of the 23 interns in my department received a list of potential projects to work on over the course of our internship. We were then asked to pick our top three preferences before being assigned a project and a mentor. I was assigned to the ‘Memorable 1st Experience’ project where I collected and analyzed data on new members who sign up for our home delivery services. Here’s a sneak peek into what I learned:

Diversity & Inclusion aren’t just words on the wall.

During the Intern Summit – a 3-day event in which interns from across the country come together in the St. Louis headquarters – I got the opportunity to hear from members of Express Scripts’ executive team, including Susan Stith, Vice President, Diversity, Inclusion and  Corporate Giving. Susan stressed that diversity by itself doesn’t always lead to success.  The goal is to have a combination of diversity and inclusion and companies should strive to recruit a wide range of talented employees and ensure they are active and engaged.

The Intern Summit was a great example of the engagement and inclusion Susan discussed. Through a series of networking activities, including an intern-wide trip to the City Museum, I befriended other interns of different ages, genders, ethnicities and religions. This experience helped me learn a great deal about other cultures and understand the backgrounds of my peers that were different, yet also similar, from my own.

Success lies in being a self-starter. 

Although Express Scripts calls it an “internship program,” I would argue that you could change the name to a “summer employee program,” as this is not your typical internship program. During your time here, no one is going to tell you exactly what to do or give you busy work to fill up your 40 hour work week. Instead, you will be treated like a real employee and given an actual project that needs to be completed in 12 weeks. While your boss will give you direction, he or she will not be there to check on you at every moment. While this can be a little scary at first, the responsibility you are given is actually pretty liberating.

I quickly learned that answers and solutions were not going to be handed to me. I had to become confident and willing to schedule meetings with directors and their teams to ask questions and advance my project. The healthcare industry and the work Express Scripts does to serve clients and patients is very complex. There are no simple problems or solutions, and my project required the collaborative effort of many different teams in order to be successful.

All work and no play makes for a dull internship experience.

Many people, myself included, tend to take life too seriously and forget to laugh sometimes. At Express Scripts, I was reminded by my coworkers every day that work should be fun. My department made certain we were not caged in our cubicles for a full 8-hour work day, under the strict supervision of our bosses. Instead, they encouraged us to try out different workspaces in the building, and our managers worked to ensure they developed strong relationships with us.

From trying to fit through the child-sized tunnels of the City Museum to going to going to lunch together, we were able to make better connections with our mentors and colleagues, resulting in a more comfortable and fun work environment. By the end of my internship, I had formed some strong relationships and friendships that I value.

While my summer internship has come to a close, I already have begun to apply my learnings not only inside the office, but outside as well. I am thankful for my experience thus far and I cannot wait for what is yet to come.

Want to find out what opportunities an internship with Express Scripts can offer you? Check out our career site for more information.  





« Recognition for How We Recognize One Another| Never Give Up »

Recognition for How We Recognize One Another

November 15, 2017 | Express Scripts

Recently, our team was honored with a WorkHappier Award for our employee engagement and recognition program, Recognition Rx.

BI Worldwide (BIW) hosted the WorkHappier awards, which publicly recognize exceptional commitment to employee engagement and recognition. BIW nominated more than 90 companies, and we were selected as one of 15 finalists. Ultimately, we were honored with a WorkHappier Award in the Awesome Outcome category, which specifically honors companies with employee engagement programs that are proven to be effective as evidenced by quantifiable metrics.

Over the past year, overall recognition through Recognition Rx has experienced a 92% increase, and peer-to-peer recognition has nearly doubled.

Recognition RX, which was implemented in 2010, allows employees to recognize each other by sending a Thank You or Celebrate You e-card, submitting a ‘Spotlight’ recognition for a job well done (which includes Award Points), or nominating a colleague for Employee of the Quarter.  Since recognizing someone doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach, we also developed approximately 200 custom departmental recognition programs to ensure our employees feel motivated and engaged in meeting their departmental goals in a fun and positive way.

Part of Recognition Rx’s success has to do with new ways employees have been able to share recognition. Launch of a new mobile app in 2016 made the platform more accessible and allowed the ability to host contests with prizes to reward our employees for using the system. Additionally, in 2017 we implemented ‘Thank You Thursdays,’ which fall on the third Thursday of every month, and is set aside as a day to appreciate colleagues for the great work they do, their passion and commitment.

Our Senior Director of Compensation, Jane Loe, who accepted the award on our behalf, believes that, “More than ever, expressing appreciation is part of who we are and how we work together ― making us a stronger organization and a happier workplace.”

While Recognition Rx has seen tremendous success since its launch, our Total Rewards team is hard at work to keep the program momentum going and develop new and exciting ways to recognize and say ‘thank you’ to one another.

Sound like a workplace you’d like to be part of? Learn more and visit our career site for a full list of our open jobs.

« The Intern Files: 3 Takeaways from a Presentation with the SVP of Supply Chain Management| Prescription for Success: 3 Lessons I Learned as an Express Scripts Intern »

The Intern Files: 3 Takeaways from a Presentation with the SVP of Supply Chain Management

November 8, 2017 | Express Scripts

Annie worked as an intern in the Retail Channel Management department working with retail pharmacies on their networks.

As I think about my time as an intern in the Retail Channel Management Department at Express Scripts, one word comes to mind: opportunity.

While I was given many opportunities during my internship, the one that stands out most is the Executive Speaker Series. During this series, interns gain exposure to the highest levels of the organization and hear directly from company leaders about their career journey and teachable moments along the way. A handful of interns even had the chance to interview an executive prior to his, or her, presentation and introduce them the day of the session.

I had the honor of interviewing and introducing Express Scripts’ Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Specialty, Everett Neville. This allowed me to get to know him on a personal level, while also learning about his perspective on the future of supply chain, healthcare, and Express Scripts. Here are my favorite takeaways:

He has a favorite project.

During Everett’s many years at Express Scripts, his favorite project has been the SafeguardRx program. This is a specialty drug program that helps patients spend less and find a medication that works for them. When patients try a new specialty medication, there is a 1 in 3 chance it will be unsuccessful. Patients must take the medication for at least three months to see if it’s effective in improving their condition. If the medication is unsuccessful, an immense amount of money is wasted. That’s where Express Scripts is taking action. Assisting patients in receiving money back from the manufacturer allows them to try different medication that may be a better fit. This is one of Everett’s favorite projects because it improves patient care and enables cross-functional collaboration between the clinical and supply chain departments.

Drug advertising has both positive and negative ramifications.

Ethics are always a popular topic in the healthcare and supply chain industries, so it wasn’t a surprise when Everett was asked his opinion on ethical practices of drug advertising. In his opinion, there is both a good and bad side to the issue. On the positive side, advertising a new drug can be helpful in raising awareness for treatments patients could receive. For example, if a patient has a minor condition they previously worked with their doctor to manage but never found a solution for, they might abandon their efforts. With the help of advertising, they become more aware about new medications that could treat their condition. On the negative side, advertising drugs may expose patients to medications that they don’t necessarily need.

Early career guidance is crucial.

When it comes to those just staring their careers, Everett had some very important guidance. He told us to always expect changes throughout our career paths, take smart risks early on, and be cautious when posting on social media. He also shared the value of continuously building a wide range of professional skillsets in this constantly changing world.

As I said before, opportunity is central to the work culture at Express Scripts. I’m grateful for the investment Express Scripts made in developing my skills this summer, and I have confidence that my entire intern class will continue to learn and grow. The opportunities at Express Scripts are present; it is up to you to seize them.

Want to join our intern class of 2018? Check out our career site for more information.



« 3 Takeaways From My First Grace Hopper Experience| Recognition for How We Recognize One Another »