Meet the Nava Team: Colleen McElroy
Each week, Nava will introduce you to a different member of our team who'll share their thoughts on Nava, the industry, and the mission ahead. Read on to learn more about what brought Colleen to Nava:
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I was born and raised in Connecticut and went on to college at the University of Connecticut (go Huskies!). After graduation, I moved to New York and have lived in the Metro area ever since. Knowing I wanted to be somewhere in the healthcare space, I started my career at Willis Towers Watson as an Analyst in their Benefits Consulting practice. After two years addressing clients' day-to-day inquiries, creating deliverables, and providing plan analysis, I moved into the Consultant role where I owned the relationship with my clients and acted as the project manager for their annual benefits strategy and execution. In those five years with Willis, I built my benefits foundation working with clients all across the country and in every industry from swing set manufacturers to investment banks.
After Willis, I joined Namely, an HR platform with a brokerage arm, to serve its technology clients. Namely provided me with very unique insight into how technology can be leveraged to support benefit plan administration. During my time at Namely, I grew my team from five to 12 consultants in two years, and partnered cross-functionally to support our clients across all aspects of their Namely experience. If Willis was my crash course in benefits, Namely was the crash course in client service. Any company offering a tech-based product is going to have clients who experience challenges; learning how to tackle those concerns, communicate effectively with clients, and partner with multiple internal stakeholders shaped the way I think about and build playbooks for Client Success.
Which brings us here! I joined Nava this August as its Director of Client Success. Nava has given me an opportunity to combine my benefits consulting background with insights from my time at Namely to provide amazing service to our current and future clients.
Outside of work you can find me exploring the restaurants in our little city of Hoboken, day tripping to the beach, or unwinding with a good book.
Why healthcare? And why Nava?
I have to think I'm one of very few people who intentionally went into the brokerage / insurance space. When I first started college, I was torn between pursuing dental school or a business track. Then, I heard about a major called Healthcare Management and thought it was such a unique combination of the two areas I was torn between: healthcare and business. The same interests hold true now; one of my favorite parts of consulting is digging into claims or utilization data to pull out opportunities to adjust benefits for a specific financial outcome.
What attracted me to Nava was the opportunity to build a brokerage that was centered around positive outcomes for both the employer and employee. Many firms focus exclusively on cost savings, and while that's a critical metric, focusing on it alone means you're not tracking how your plans are affecting its core users: your employees. Nava believes that the member experience has to be at the forefront of benefit decisions – which translates into positive results for the employer through feedback, retention, and recruiting outcomes. And, our tech focus means we're leveraging the most innovative solutions not only for our clients, but for our support teams, too. This is especially important since the brokerage industry is notoriously "old school." So many account managers are still organizing their book of business through excel sheets and project managing through a personal to-do list. Nava will provide the resources needed so support teams can service our clients in the most effective and efficient ways possible.
What do you find so interesting about the benefits brokerage space specifically?
It still surprises me how different and unique every client and employee population is. Within one employer you can have executives, office workers, field sales employees, warehouse workers, and more. Each of those groups have such different wants and needs and it’s a puzzle to figure out which benefits package is going to effectively serve the entire employee base. And on top of that, figuring out how to communicate with all of those different employee groups is another challenge. In short, it’s impossible to be bored in the benefits brokerage world.
What's one aspect of employer benefits that you are most excited to reinvent?
I’m excited to reinvent the employee experience - specifically, education around benefit plans. So many employers talk about benefits once a year during open enrollment. Employees then forget about the resources they have until they need them, which creates a negative perception when they are, for example, digging for a vendor phone number from the emergency room. There is so much opportunity to promote the benefits (that employers are paying a lot of money for!) on an ongoing basis to drive engagement and satisfaction.
And we're starting to see this come to life through Nava's own open enrollment experience. It's important that we "practice what we preach" - this means testing and deploying unique tools that enhance the benefits lifecycle, to make benefits education more fun and accessible for our own employees (and soon, clients), too.
Before working at Nava, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
While not unique, the job that undoubtedly kept me on my toes more than any other was nannying. I’ve been attacked with a whiffle ball bat by a toddler, had kids lock me out of the house, and witnessed to some pretty interesting family dynamics.
What do you hope to accomplish with Nava over the next year? The next five years?
Looking forward a year from now, I hope to have built out a team of top benefits account managers who are providing amazing client service by leveraging unique tools to make them more efficient and effective than any other brokerage. Having successful account managers will allow our brokers to be confident in the service being provided, allowing them to focus on growing Nava's client base.
In five years, I hope that Nava has built a brand of innovation, maintained a strong team culture, and delivers on its mission to increase transparency within the healthcare space. I hope that, for members whose benefit plans are managed by Nava, they will have the tools necessary to navigate the system with confidence.