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 Nick to Nava:
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I was raised with my two younger brothers in a small town in Connecticut. After high school, I made my way to the University of Pittsburgh, where I studied Neuroscience and Chemistry. I had always relished the idea of becoming a doctor, but after a few years of working in hospitals, labs, and shadowing mentors, it became clear to me that (spoiler alert) it is nothing like what you see on TV.
After college, I worked in a research lab using genetically-engineered viruses to fend off brain tumors. I was lucky enough to work with brilliant people and was supported by world-class technology and institutional resources. I'll forever be grateful for that chapter in my life, however, lab research is a slow and painstaking process. Months (and often years) are dedicated to collecting data that will ultimately be published in an esoteric journal. After speaking with mentors, friends, and family I made the decision that I would feel more fulfilled having a broader, more immediate impact on the world of healthcare.
Like a lot of recent grads, I found myself without a clear direction of where my next steps would take me. Knowing that I wanted to try something new, I found a job in New York City with a life science recruitment firm called Barrington James. Turns out that an entry-level role as an agency recruiter is about as far as you can get from a bioengineering lab. Cold calling replaced pipetting while boisterous coworkers took the place of pragmatic academics. It was a whole new world, as they say in the movies, and I was excited and fascinated for where it would take me.
My next chapter began a few years later when I became interested in the culture and mission of early-stage technology companies (snacks in the office certainly didn't hurt either). I began to pursue roles that would be a smooth transition from my skillset in recruiting and into the world of tech. Low and behold, I found Greenhouse - an incredible (now series D) tech start-up with a mission to make every company great at hiring. In Greenhouse, I found a diverse and inclusive culture, smart people, and a place to nurture and grow my career.
Over the course of my three years at Greenhouse, I was involved in nearly all areas of the sales process from working with marketing on top-of-funnel demand generation to winning new business as an Account Executive. My efforts in driving top-of-funnel lead generation and experience in a modern, consultative sales process are what brought me to Nava in July 2020 as the Manager of Business Development.
These days, you'll find me building out the lead generation engine at Nava to support our mission of delivering high-quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans. Our brokerage model is unlike anything that exists today and, as it turns out, business leaders are pretty fed up with the status quo. I couldn't be more proud of the mission we have set out to achieve and our early success.
When the workday is over you can find me cooking, playing pick-up basketball, snowboarding, or exploring all that New York City has to offer.
Why healthcare? And why Nava?
Healthcare is a fundamental human right that has been turned into one of the largest money-making industries in the country. The lack of transparency in pricing and patient outcomes is unsettling, and in my opinion downright wrong. Call five different hospitals and you will get five different quotes for the same procedure as if the prices are entirely made up. All of that waste and price inflation eventually "trickles down" to workers and their families.
My interest in healthcare came from a passion for serving others and being able to have a meaningful impact on someone's life during one of their most vulnerable and emotional moments. A benefits brokerage was never the road I imagined traveling down, but it is tremendously rewarding to help drive improvements in patient outcomes and to reduce the financial burden for an exponentially larger patient population.
What excites me about Nava is that we are fundamentally reimagining what it means to be a benefits brokerage. We will be able to make a huge impact on the space by reinventing an age-old business model to be better aligned with metrics that matter for our clients and their employees. For me, one of the most interesting parts is how our founding team has combined the operational leverage of the world's best tech companies with thought leadership in benefits plan design and healthcare delivery. By doing so, we are uniquely positioned to tackle one of the biggest sources of "drag" on the American economy.
If that doesn't get you up in the morning, I'm not sure what would.
What do you find so interesting about the benefits brokerage space specifically?
To be clear, I knew next to nothing about the benefits brokerage industry before Nava. My impression of an insurance broker was probably similar to yours - not so great. But, as it turns out, nearly all of the folks that go into this profession do so with the best intentions and are some of the most caring and devoted professionals you could meet.
The most fascinating thing about the benefits brokerage is the incredible influence that an individual broker can have on the lives of everyday people. If you get your insurance through work, a benefits broker more than likely had a hand in designing the coverage levels and costs to your family.
This tremendous steering power makes the benefits brokerage the perfect distribution channel for healthcare innovation. Combine that with a relatively outdated business model, and there is a ton of room to disrupt how a benefits brokerage provides value to clients.
What's one aspect of employer benefits that you are most excited to reinvent?
Benefits can and should go beyond healthcare. As more and more employers encourage people to "bring their whole selves to work", we have an opportunity to support small-to-midsized employers in offering benefits that go above-and-beyond traditional healthcare offerings. What was once reserved for the biggest companies with the most sophisticated benefits departments is now within reach for the thousands of small companies in the country.
As a part of employee compensation packages, benefits can be used as a lever for employee recruiting, engagement, and retention. By providing clients with more than a typical benefits stack for less than what they are paying today, Nava has the opportunity to move employee benefits from the realm of "cost center" to a strategic driver of business value.
Before working at Nava, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
After college, I was living in Pittsburgh working in a cancer immunology lab. I was a research associate, studying the immune response to genetically-engineered herpes virus as therapeutic for brain cancer. That was a formative and rewarding experience with incredibly smart people.
Working in a lab is an experience I wouldn't trade for anything, but the pay left a lot to be desired. There were many days where I would wash up, leave the lab, and hop on a bus to the south-side for my more lucrative second job as a server at a fancy gastropub.
What do you hope to accomplish with Nava over the next year? The next five years?
A year from now, I hope to have built out a diverse, high-performing Sales Development team. We will have the structure in place for a world-class onboarding program, incredible sales training, and will have made several internal promotions from our first onboarding Crew thus proving Nava is a place to grow your career.
Over time, I want Nava to become a highly-regarded workplace for young professionals to launch their careers. Through thoughtful and equitable hiring practices, stellar training at Nava University (trademark pending 🙂), and formal exposure to many areas of a growing business, the Sales Development organization at Nava will become a sought-after entry point for the industry's best talent.
One final note on the future of the Sales Team at Nava: even for the best salespeople, sometimes it is tough to get up every morning and sell the same old product (especially when you are hearing "no" all day). At Nava, it's hard NOT to get up and spread the good word. Every new client translates to measurable improvements in the physical and financial well-being of hundreds of people.
PS - we're hiring :)