In Part 1 of our conversation, we spoke with Katie about her college mantra and passion as a Freedom Fighter for social justice. In this next interview, we discuss her new role and responsibilities, her passion for mentoring leaders, her love of building teams and culture, and her ambition to ensure her vocation and avocation always remain aligned.
Your title is Chief Revenue Officer. What does that mean, and how do you see your role unfolding?
The practical aspect means that I will be accountable for the revenue growth and retention for the company, as well as how we communicate our value in the market. In this capacity, I have the chance to work with a true all-star team. I will work with Erin Storch, who is our VP of Account Management and one of the main people who helped recruit me, given that we had worked at the Advisory Board together. She’s done an incredible job of creating the foundation for how we work with clients and how we grow these relationships. I will also partner with Courtney Baker to help build out our sales function for the employer space, as well as work alongside Dan Oftedahl, who is helping us launch into the payer space this year. I am incredibly excited about each of these “channels” and I will be accountable for our performance in each. Most importantly, I have the chance to learn from one of the best—Nate Murray—who has been the key to new client growth since Crossover’s first client win.
Our two biggest priorities out of the gates will be building out our revenue organization and establishing a strong and consistent message and voice in the market. Key to our success this year will be standing up a top-notch Revenue team. We have an opportunity to bring in new team members across our Marketing, Employer, and Payer sales organizations who will represent the differentiated value of our care teams as well as the magic of what makes Crossover unique. Also, as we focus on “Going Pro,” as Scott would say, we will focus on establishing processes and systems for creating a revenue machine that can help us provide visibility and predictability to our business. One of the first—and most important—things we need to do this year is to be crisp on our message, and to articulate the value proposition, as well as the differentiation, in a very clear, loud way. My biggest concern when I was meeting with Scott in October was how to manage our message. It’s not simple, it’s a bit nuanced, and trying to get that message out in one of the noisiest industries that I know of felt intimidating. What I didn’t know at the time was that Crossover was bringing on two truly incredible new leaders, John Hallock to lead corporate communications, and Amy Chen to lead our marketing efforts. And once I knew that they were bringing on additional leaders of their caliber in these two critical areas, I felt like my questions were answered definitively.
Part of my perspective on revenue growth is rooted in how the Advisory Board Company sold its services to the health system market. We had a very specific formula with which we approached our prospective clients. Our goal was to always lead with education and insight—we sought to educate first, by providing industry context, and insights on why the key problem we were discussing was so galvanizing. That was followed by an explanation of the solutions we were providing, and what made our approach unique, differentiated, and how we achieved quantifiable results. This approach always led to interesting, value-added discussions that helped build relationships which, in time, built confidence that we would be a thoughtful, results-driven partner that understood the nuances of the problems we were trying to solve. We have a similar opportunity at Crossover—the more we can educate the employer market on the power they have to be the changemakers in healthcare, and engage them on what they should be expecting from healthcare providers, the more we can provide the disruption necessary to accelerate the movement toward value-based care and achievement of the Triple Aim. We have a similar opportunity on the payer side—exposing them to capabilities we have built to address total cost of care coupled with member experience and relationships, and leveraging that to help them innovate in their markets.
Where are the opportunities?
There are so many opportunities!!! Where do I start? We are fortunate that the Crossover L Team and Board are willing to invest in expanding our Revenue Organization which will enable us to bring in new talent with new skills and ideas as we continue to build out our Revenue function at Crossover. One thing that Scott mentioned to me during our early discussions was his ambition to build a talent powerhouse at Crossover—I am excited that we can contribute to that through our Revenue team and look for truly best in class talent to build our team.
Secondly, we know that we have value to provide the employer market, but we also have so much potential to partner with payers and the retail market to bring Primary Health to an even greater number of populations. As we explore these various channels, we will need to innovate and be creative on how we serve a different set of needs.
Lastly, coming through COVID in particular, we have an amazing opportunity to highlight the great work we are doing in mental health as a key component of Primary Health. Mental health continues to be heartbreakingly difficult to access, and we know that the medical outcomes for patients with a diagnosed mental health condition are not great without coordinated care. This problem represents exactly the kind of problem that Crossover can solve so well. Mental health needs have been a hot topic in the industry press of late, and I am excited that we can speak with confidence on our capabilities in this arena.
You are well known for being a proponent of mentoring as a key part of building successful teams. What has mentoring meant to you over the years?
I love team building, and I love team management. I don’t know that I ever set out to be a mentor, but it’s probably the thing in which I take the most personal pride. Healthcare tends to still be pretty male-dominated, so mentoring young up-and-coming female professionals who are trying to navigate the waters and manage the balance between an ambitious career and personal life is probably one of the things that’s most gratifying for me. I like to help these next-generation female leaders understand how to work within organizations, and how to develop a bit of armor to deal with the bias in certain departments. A big piece of this is thinking involves how to develop confidence and credibility while also finding your own brand of authentic leadership—both internally and externally. I hope to be part of a new wave of even greater representation and impact, not only at Crossover, but across the entire industry. It is widely acknowledged that we have more work to do to improve diversity in healthcare across the board. Frankly, we cannot fix healthcare until all people that the industry impacts are represented—and I want to have a role in addressing it. I am proud to be joining an organization that has already made great strides in this area.
The best compliment that I can get is when someone I’ve worked with has moved on in their life and career, but continues to call me because they need a sounding board. It’s one of the reasons that I’m here at Crossover. Erin, who heads up Account Management at Crossover, was one of my best hires at the Advisory Board, and we have worked together in a mentorship capacity for over 10 years now. Because of our relationship, I found what she had to say about the company compelling, and that caused me to let down my guard and get reeled into the Crossover orbit!
But mentoring works both ways, and I am grateful for those who have helped guide me over the years as well. In fact, as I was making the decision to join Crossover, I called several amazing leaders at The Advisory Board, and walked with them through my decision-making process. I had some great friends and mentors at Optum as well, who helped me learn from their experience and let me pressure test some of my assumptions. Their feedback was the helpful, healthy, additional perspective that I needed, as I know sometimes I can get trapped inside my head when faced with a big decision.
The other thing that I’ve done for the past few years—which I’m a huge fan of—is I hired a personal coach. I do this when I want to dedicate personal time and resources to help keep myself accountable for ongoing growth, with someone who is trained in executive coaching, someone who is neutral regarding the people I work with and the projects I work on, and who can be a true, unbiased sounding board. I’ve gotten a lot of benefit from investing in this service over the years and I feel pretty passionate about educating others on the benefits as well.
What might surprise people about Katie Higgins?
I feel like if we’re not having fun doing what we’re doing, and we don’t bring good humor to our day, then we’re probably doing something wrong. When my kids are asked, “What does your mom do for work,” they always say they’re not really sure. “We know that she helps people with healthcare, but what we hear is her talking to her friends and laughing all day long in her office. And so she must be just having fun with her friends.” For me, that’s such a great compliment, because that’s what work should be—it should be doing something that you love with people you enjoy. I’ve always worked with ambitious, goal-chasing revenue teams, and bringing good humor and levity to your day is so important for building trust, team work and collaboration as well as keeping the big picture in mind.. Otherwise you just keep sprinting—when the race you are really running is actually a marathon.
With that in mind, something that is always surprising to folks is that I am actually an introvert despite my extroverted tendencies at work. I love working and talking with people about tough problems and topics all day long, but at some point, I need to completely unplug and have good quiet time—whether that is reading, watching movies with my kids, walking, hiking, wandering the Portland Farmers Market, or exploring a new part of town. That quiet time is how I recharge and ensure that I can bring energy to those I work with every day.
Many thanks to Peter Heywood (one of our long-standing brand advisors and business consultants) who helped conduct these interviews. You can search for Peter’s other Crossover Leader Series Interviews.