In this series, 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 Dylan to Nava:
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I was born and raised in Connecticut and went on to attend Marist College, a somewhat small liberal arts school in New York, where I studied Finance and Advertising. While these are two very different fields from a technical perspective, they both revolve around understanding a company's inner-workings and what makes it unique. During college, I interned with a brokerage firm that focused on both property & casualty insurance as well as employee benefits, which gave me an early glimpse into the brokerage world. It was an excellent environment that allowed me to rotate into various departments and learn more about the different roles that a brokerage firm could offer. Fast-forward a couple of years, I re-entered the brokerage space and started my career at Namely, an HR platform and benefits brokerage, as a Benefits Analyst. During my time there, I worked hand-in-hand with Consultants to support clients with any and all benefits-related requests and deliverables, including RFP requests, strategic and financial planning presentations, employee-facing benefits guides, and enrollment and claims issues. Learning and collaborating with numerous departments shined a light on what HR experts and employees really needed help with — the Affordable Care Act, payroll, benefits administration, file feeds, open enrollment configuration, client servicing, insurance renewals, employee advocacy, and everything in between. I think of my time there as a crash-course in tech-enabled benefits.
Which brings us to today: I joined Nava this past November as the company's first Benefits Analyst, helping our internal partners and account managers provide modern, tech-enabled service at scale for our clients.
Outside of work, you can most likely find me on the golf course, playing basketball, or catching up on the latest binge-worthy TV shows (any Ted Lasso fans out there?).
Why healthcare? And why Nava?
I don’t know many people who decide from an early age that they want to work in employee benefits (although I could definitely see my manager Colleen dreaming about one day sending RFPs and modeling employee contributions - she's just that into it). All jokes aside, it's been this hidden industry that you either stumble upon by accident, or hear about through someone who knows someone in the industry. I fell into the latter bucket, with family in and around the space who lifted the veil on this rarely-talked about world. The more I learned about it, the more I felt drawn to healthcare, and specifically, benefits. The fact that companies are the buyer of healthcare on behalf of their employees means that, right after payroll, benefits are generally one of the two most expensive checks they write. Companies have to make a conscious choice about which benefits they will or won't offer, and that decision brings with it a sizable impact on their employees' wellbeing (as well as that of their families).
Navigating and optimizing against those choices is what drew me to Nava, since we're operating from a first principle approach in an industry that can be overly complex. We're building our company and offering starting from the simple question: "how can we create a better benefits brokerage for all parties?" Everyday, I'm part of conversations around which vendors to implement, how technology can be deployed to level-up client experience, how we increase productivity for our internal team, and how we can work backwards from what would be a best-in-class employee and client experience.
What do you find so interesting about the benefits brokerage space specifically?
The variability of it all. What I mean by that is that you can have two companies located in the same zip code, with a similar number of employees, operating in similar industries, and their employees and HR teams could have the exact opposite employee benefits experience. Whether that's due to their insurance carriers, benefits broker, choice of benefits, or a slate of other criteria, every single company is different and unique. Which, in turn, makes the benefits brokerage space so interesting to work in at both a micro- and macro-level.
What's one aspect of employer benefits that you are most excited to reinvent?
There's so much potential to better integrate technology into the employee benefits experience. There are so many modern vendors out there that provide invaluable benefits outside what you would find in a traditional health and welfare plan. From health advocates who will negotiate bills on your behalf, to financial advisors that can help you plan for the future, to mental health professionals that can drastically cut down the price and wait times for employees looking for a therapist, there are incredible and innovative companies out there that employers can tap into. The key to adoption is educating employers on their options while aligning to their goals, and ensuring a battle-tested deployment playbook that minimizes any hesitation in member adoption.
Before working at Nava, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
When I was 15 years old, I saw an ad in the paper for a summer job that only had two hiring requirements: you wanted to be outdoors, and you could lift 15 lbs (I nailed it). I got the job and spent the summer on a golf course doing course maintenance work. Every morning it would be a race against time to cut the holes on the greens, replace the flags, water the greens and rake the bunkers before the first tee time went off. Then, the afternoons would consist of weed whacking, filling divots, and any other odd jobs that were thrown my way. It was a masterclass in collaboration, organization, and hard work alongside the entire maintenance crew. All in all, a great first job and exposure to the working world.
What do you hope to accomplish with Nava over the next year? The next five years?
Over the next year, the Client Success team and I will be working to excel how we do the routine, yet crucial, parts of client service. Some things I'm exploring include client communication platforms that show real-time analytics, automated service plans to track a client's benefits lifecycle, or other unique tools to make us more efficient and effective. And, as 2021 is also slated to be a year of hiring and business growth for the company, we're ready to quickly onboard more talented analysts and account executives who will help our team learn, expand, and modernize the way we support our clients.
The next five years? I'm excited for Nava to be proof that a new brokerage model can not only exist in the marketplace, but can be successful enough to shift the industry norms when it comes to technology, efficiency, and transparency.