Meet the Nava Team: Joe Donovan
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 me to Nava:
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I guess you can say I've "grown up" in healthcare, which has provided me a unique ability to see the industry from multiple vantage points. I started my career at UnitedHealthcare as part of their "group school" program where I joined 15 other recent college grads from around the country to train at corporate headquarters in Minnesota. When the program ended I took a sales role at United. It was straight into the deep end, working with large group customers in the New York Metro region. I often refer to this as my informal PhD in corporate healthcare.
After 4 years at United, I joined a startup called The Difference Card. The Difference Card gave me a greater opportunity to deliver innovative and cost-saving healthcare plans. This included a brand new insurance product we developed, delivering guaranteed savings to our clients. This was very disruptive and pretty much unheard of in the benefits space.
During my time at The Difference Card, the team grew from five employees to over a hundred people. I eventually took on the role of Chief Revenue Officer, recruiting and building our sales and account management teams in 13 markets throughout the United States.
I joined Nava in June as its Chief Revenue Officer. Leaving The Difference Card was difficult, but I believe in the unique power of brokerage to transform American healthcare. Nava was an opportunity to bring everything I learned at The Difference Card to a new and disruptive company.
Health is a theme in my personal life too; outside of work, you'll find me running, biking, or in a boxing ring.
Why healthcare? And why Nava?
While I can't say that I grew up wanting to be in the business of healthcare, I couldn't be happier that it happened. It's rewarding to work in an industry where you can make a significant impact on the health and well-being of your community. Brokers design the benefits plans for over 160 million Americans. It's a massive responsibility; one that's very humbling and deeply rewarding.
I've worked alongside benefits brokers for over 15 years, and I've seen first-hand what great looks like and I have seen what good looks like. Unfortunately "good" is all too common since many brokers lack access to the resources they need to become "great". At Nava, we want to unleash the potential of our brokers and client success teams through investments in technology, tools, and support required to do great work and deliver great outcomes. That's pretty exciting when you consider the reach and impact it could bring to US healthcare.
What do you find so interesting about the benefits brokerage space specifically?
After working with benefits brokers my entire career, what I find most interesting is how much human capital and relationships matter. Benefits brokers often nurture these strong, trusted relationships with their clients. At Nava, we want to further enhance those relationships by turning our brokers & client success teams into advocates, arming them with the best tools & technology.
What's one aspect of employer benefits that you are most excited to reinvent?
Accountability and transparency. A benefit broker's career has generally been one that operates behind the scenes and oftentimes on the defense; if a client doesn't complain, then it's considered a good day. As a result, this can mean clients don't always know what to expect from their broker on an ongoing basis, or have a complete picture of what they're paying for. I'm hopeful that Nava can improve the relationship between broker and employer by driving accountability on the broker's "job to be done" throughout the year, while also providing a clear picture of what that will cost the client.
Before working at Nava, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
When I was 20 years old, I spent three months working in Cadbury Chocolate's marketing & sales department, just outside of Dublin, Ireland. That experience was a masterclass in understanding the power of a brand. In Ireland, Cadbury dominates the candy and chocolate space thanks to incredible brand loyalty.
What do you hope to accomplish with Nava over the next year? The next five years?
Over the next year, I'm excited to build out an incredibly talented team of sales and client success folks. It's important to me that these future coworkers have a passion for our mission and are looking to be part of building out the future of benefits brokerage versus relying on how it's always been done.
As I mentioned earlier, an important lever in how Nava can influence change in the employer healthcare marketplace is providing brokers and client success teams with the technology, tools, and support they need to do their best work; this in turn will deliver great outcomes to employers. Our five-year vision is focused on that — investing in ways we can unleash the talent of our mission-oriented client teams. We strive to create a company culture that brings out the best in our people — Nava will be where top talent wants to work, and who forward-thinking employers want to work with.