Like so many at Crossover, Erin did not begin her career in healthcare. There was a time she thought she and her husband were destined to be a power couple in the financial industry while living in Manhattan. But she realized that all the skills in the world aren’t worth much if you’re not passionate about the type of work you do and the culture of the place where you work. That realization is what took her first into healthcare, and ultimately to Crossover. Part 1 of 2.
Can you share a bit about yourself, where you grew up, and where you went to school?
I grew up on Long Island with my parents and sister. I think my parents were ahead of their time in many ways. My sister, Amy, and I were raised to believe that women are capable of anything. She was service oriented from a young age and currently oversees social work and mental health for a large school district in North Carolina. I was drawn to business and leadership for as long as I can remember so it was no surprise when I applied to an undergraduate business school. I attended Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. I visited the school, I applied, I made an early decision—and that was it. I made wonderful friends at Bentley and took on leadership roles in the Greek community, and graduated with a degree in management.
You’re back on Long Island now. Isn’t that pretty unusual to settle down in the same town where you grew up?
The short answer is I never expected to end up back on Long Island. After school, I lived and worked in New York City for a while and then my husband and I ended up down in DC for almost seven years. As life circumstances changed, we both felt a need to be closer to our parents, so we came back to Long Island. We decided on Port Washington, a wonderful area of the Island that was new to both of us.
The longer answer is that after graduating from Bentley, I no idea what I wanted to do, at all. My first job was in account management at a marketing firm, then I left there to join a friend’s startup. I felt I had a little bit of that fire to start something but I wasn’t ready—I wasn’t mature enough or financially stable. And I think I was running away from a job I didn’t like to something that sounded really cool. Afterwards, I had a third job in a sales role for a company that doesn’t exist anymore, called Score, which helped children with extra curricular academic programs. I learned something in each role but seemed to gravitate towards the problem solving I experienced when working in account management.
Through some networking, I then transitioned to a role at Smith Barney. I worked in the corporate client group, and was focused on stock plans, 401Ks, deferred compensation, and all sorts of corporate benefits programs. As I grew in my career there, I progressed into a series of client-facing, and then management roles. Working with the HR executives of our corporate clients, I developed new programs for financial education for their employees, and wealth management services for their executives. I learned a lot about how HR benefits teams made decisions, which would prove to be very valuable experience down the road.
I later ended up at Morgan Stanley where I continued partnering with corporate clients. My boyfriend at the time, soon to be husband, was working at Goldman Sachs. We were both VP’s in financial services, living in Manhattan, and living the dream. We had no idea how wrong we were! In March of 2008, while traveling in Dubai, we watched the collapse of Bear Stearns in real time and knew our worlds were going to change! Amidst the financial crisis my husband interviewed for and was offered the first ever COO role at the SEC enforcement division. We thought it was a longshot but I now know better than to underestimate him because he got the job. We were soon off to DC!
Thankfully, the team at Morgan Stanley let me work remotely from DC. Although I enjoyed working with so many amazing colleagues and mentors, I had never been very passionate about financial services to begin with. It was here that I was introduced to the Advisory Board. I was looking for something in account management but they only had sales positions at the time and I just wasn’t up for the demanding travel requirements of that role. I left off that if something ever opens up in account management, please call me back. As luck would have it, six months later they did call me back and I was fortunate to interview with Katie Higgins (and its only taken me three years to get her to come over to Crossover!).
Katie and I clicked in the interview. The Advisory Board had recently acquired a company out of Austin, Texas called Crimson, and as they were doing their due diligence and finalizing the acquisition, they realized somewhere between a third and a half of Crimson’s contracts were up for renewal in the first year after the acquisition. For me, it was an amazing opportunity to come on board and build an account management team to retain and grow these accounts. I ended up working at the Advisory Board for almost seven years and during that time I was both taught as well as learned what great account management can be. It was such a great education in structure, goal setting, serving clients, resolving issues, and really having impact
What was it about the Advisory Board that seems to have been so magical for its employees?
I loved it. My first two years in particular were just so special. There was a lot of emphasis on living the values, like running towards criticism, getting really used to giving and getting constant feedback, and working in this cycle of always improving. Something that the Advisory Board did really well was set very clear goals, and empower people throughout the organization by giving them the tools that they needed to achieve those goals. And there was such an emphasis on doing the right thing for clients, which is incredibly important in healthcare where the community is small and the work so essential. They were masterful in identifying and developing talent, and betting on high-potential junior talent, which created this energetic, magnetic place. We worked very hard and we had a lot of fun. And, you can continue to see the legacy of Advisory Board employees who have gone on to do amazing work in the healthcare industry.
What pulled you away and into the Crossover orbit?
Unfortunately, the Advisory Board had an activist investor who was really creating challenges for the company. knew that it was probably time to start putting some feelers out. I also knew, in going from a massive organization like Morgan Stanley to the Advisory Board, where small company culture was everything, what size of company was best for me. By that point, I was mission-driven, and the people I worked with really mattered. I met with a few healthcare tech startups in New York but in meeting the leadership team I just didn’t feel like a match and by then I had learned to trust my instincts. My sense was just to continue forward at the Advisory Board working with Jessica Dasher on the National Accounts team. However, I got a call from a from Advisory Board alumnae Karoline Hilu who had been the Chief Strategy Officer at Crossover Health. While we hadn’t worked directly together previously, we had both served in the Women in Leadership program. Karoline told me her company had won a client in New York. She couldn’t tell me who it was, didn’t have a job description, and even said the job wouldn’t be big enough for me on paper. But she wanted me to meet with the founders and see what I thought. And so I did.
When I met with Nate Murray at Crossover’s Midtown center in Manhattan, and he described the model and vision, I just knew Crossover was where I was supposed to be. There was a personal motivation for this feeling—as I had personally experienced how broken the health system really is. After my son was born and I went back to work, I started getting really sick. At an urgent care center, I literally had a doctor tell me that being a working mom was hard and I should put my feet up and have a glass of wine. An OB-GYN I saw knew something was wrong, but sent me for a CAT scan, which was the wrong sort of test. The process went on, and I was getting sicker still. It wasn’t until I was lucky enough to meet a physician who was on his first day at a new job and so was able to spend over an hour with me, that the right tests and right diagnosis happened. If I did not have that doctor sit down with me for an hour, my life might have been really different. That singular experience changed me forever.
I went back to work after that and really struggled with the fact that I worked in healthcare but was so disconnected from the patient experience. When I met with Nate and he gave me the tour of Midtown, it just sent chills up my spine. I thought that if I had had this, they would have figured out my diagnosis much faster. If there was somebody else who was struggling the way that I was, the Crossover doctors here would absolutely get to the bottom of it. They’ll give their patients time and they will listen. Nate was so genuine, so passionate that day. He showed me anonymous client data, patient comments, NPS, and more, and I just thought it was too good to be true. And just like that, in October 2017, I went from being a managing director on this big national team at the Advisory Board to being the first account manager of Comcast. It’s where all my experience with healthcare, corporate clients, sales, and building and managing teams would come together. And now, changing healthcare is my mission in life.
Part 2 of our interview with Erin looks at her role leading Account Management, how she’s evolved the department, and how the magic of the Crossover culture influences how she works.