As the leading health insurance organization in the Greater Philadelphia region, Independence Blue Cross prides itself on enhancing the health and well-being of the people and communities in which they have served for the past 80 years.
With its mission front-of-mind, Independence is always on the look-out for committed, dedicated, and innovative people who can help drive the company’s passion for solving some of health care’s biggest challenges. A key executive leading that strategy since joining Independence in 2011 is Jeanie Heffernan, executive vice president and chief human resources officer.
On November 27, I had the opportunity to speak with Heffernan about her role with the company and much more.
Can you talk a little bit about what your role as chief human resources officer entails?
In my role I provide leadership for the company from a human resources perspective. What my team and I do is plan for the execution of the corporate strategic plan through the lens of HR. This includes how we support each of the areas of the organization in staffing, training, career development, and so on. In addition, I oversee compensation and all the benefit offerings for the company, as well as associate communications and engagement.
What is your perspective on hiring at Independence Blue Cross?
It goes without saying that technical skills are critical for any of our positions. These skills – in addition to someone’s background, education, and training – are the baseline of what we consider from the start. But what we really look for is people who are going to fit our culture and have the same appreciation for our mission, our values, and our commitment to our members and the community-at-large. We want people who bring teamwork, creativity, and the ability to really appreciate and translate our personality to the marketplace. It’s also about making sure that our associates represent our community. We want, and have, a very diverse workforce at Independence. We think that’s the best way to serve our customers.
What are the components you would suggest for job readiness at Independence?
Our recruiting team is constantly looking for new talent. When we find appropriate candidates and invite them to come in to interview with us, we have a few key things we’re looking for. One of the most critical elements is their presentation — how they handle themselves, how they represent themselves. Candidates also need to do their homework. They need to understand who we are as an organization and what’s important to us so that they’re in a position to really understand our business, where we’re heading, what we’re trying to accomplish, and the customer-centric focus that we have. Finally, they need to be prepared to ask questions about anything they might not be clear about – whether it’s about the company, the position, or their job responsibilities. Ultimately, we want the interview to be a conversation.
I read about there being a Fitness Center, and this being the 10th anniversary of it?
Yes! We just celebrated the 10th anniversary of our fitness center and reopened in the new year with new flooring, lighting, and other updates to accompany the new equipment that arrived in December. We’ve always been very proud to offer a state-of-the-art space for our associates to use, and we are equally proud of our fitness team. They give our associates guidance, direction, support, and training on how to get fit and stay healthy. And best of all — it’s free for all of our associates. The fitness center is a benefit that we provide our associates without charge because we believe if they take care of themselves, they’re going to in turn take care of our members, the organization, and their teams, because they’re going to be mentally and physically fit to focus on the job at-hand.
What are some other benefits offered to associates at Independence?
Well, we have the benefits that would be familiar to your readers: medical, dental, life insurance, disability insurance. But we also have a strong 401(k) plan, which is enhanced so that we as a company make a deposit to a 401(k) plan for our associates regardless of whether or not they choose to invest in that program themselves. We really think it’s important that people plan for their future and their retirement. Because that’s what it’s all about, right? Work for a living now to plan for the future.
We also have tuition reimbursement programs and partnerships with colleges in the area so that Independence associates receive discounted tuition. We also reimburse our associates who return to school to get their college degree. We try to make it as easy as possible to participate by bringing those colleges on-site to our headquarters at 19th and Market, so that our associates can do their job and then switch gears right on the premises and finish out their schooling.
Where do you hope to see Independence in the next, let’s say, five years within your department in HR?
Diversity and inclusion really comes front and center because for me that will be, I hope, my legacy. When I’m gone, I’m optimistic that the diversity and inclusion strategy and programs that we have implemented since 2012 will continue to thrive, grow, and elevate. We have built a very diverse workforce at Independence, and my goal – which is echoed by our CEO Dan Hilferty – is to see that diversity reflected at all levels of the organization.