Women in Business: Lauren Rowe, Client Services Executive, MyHealthDirect

Lauren has been a Client Services Executive at MyHealthDirect since May 2014. The Client Service Executive serves as a hybrid of a client relationship manager and implementation/project manager. She is responsible for all aspects of the company's relationship with her clients and for managing the joint internal and client teams to ensure client satisfaction and continual improvement.

Lauren's 18 years of experience has focused on the development and refinement of business goals and strategies, while building teams to successfully carry out the organization's shared vision. Prior to joining MyHealthDirect she developed an appreciation for working with organizations striving for growth mode while serving as a management advisor and director of business development at Compass Executives, LLC., and by co-founding a venture in 2012 which focused on a consumer product for young children to engage with their distant family members called PunchBuggie. Lauren's entrepreneurial spirit was sparked during her time as Director of Operations at HPA, a startup IT company eventually bought by a large healthcare IT solutions company. In contrast, from 2003-2011 Lauren served in multiple positions at Vanderbilt University, preceded by a position in operations strategy at The Home Depot. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. Prior, she spent four years on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, applying her BA in Public Policy from Duke University.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
If you can continually garner experiences and tidbits of lessons learned, you will find yourself progressing and developing in a natural way. Leadership comes from not just things you do at work, but other parts of your life too. I think some people lead in an intentional way, as if that's their end goal, and others lead simply by giving back. Essentially, I choose to step up and participate in the things I join. Because I'm a strategic thinker, I am usually approached when major organizational changes need to occur, when they need a change agent, be that in volunteer organizations or professionally.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position as Client Services Executive at MyHealthDirect?
My experience with a Fortune 100 company helped me to understand the benefits and challenges of working in a large organization. My time as a recruiter and a consultant taught me the importance of helping people see how an experience or tool will help them reach their goals. Being a part of a healthcare company expanded my healthcare industry knowledge. While time as an entrepreneur prepared me for the "all hands on deck" attitude and work mindset needed for a young company in growth mode. Through all of this I have learned that change management lies at the heart of what I do today and change only happens when people are ready to accept it; that is why MyHealthDirect puts such an emphasis on the relationship part of working with our clients.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure as Client Services Executive at MyHealthDirect?
With each client you have highs and lows; by ensuring you are generally on an upward trend to your goal, you remain successful. I personally try to be very responsive to others and acknowledge them when they contact me. So one of my biggest tests when I first started with MyHealthDirect was of my patience when there was an initial lack of response from a client. I was excited and eager to get to work. The problem was our client contacts didn't know me from anyone else, so they didn't reciprocate the eagerness and responsiveness. Over time I learned their preferred patterns of communication; now we are in a good rhythm, so it is fun to work with them. It also opens the door to conversations about implementing changes and finding new efficiencies for their organization. Tempering my excitement and efforts to match the pattern for each new client, or contact at a client, is one skill I find necessary every time I connect with someone new.

What advice can you offer to women seeking to get to the top of their respective industries?
Aim for something - be it certain skills or experiences in your current job, or a specific role in an organization. No one will hand you your mentors - you have go find them yourself. Use all the tools in your life's tool belt to help you grow and gain experience. Be content but never settle...you got yourself to where you are, but you don't have to stay there. Not all of us are lucky enough to know exactly "what we want to be when we grow up," but if you can do the things mentioned and be open to what life brings you, you will get to a good place.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Life forces you to make choices; that's just the way it is. It is all about tradeoffs and you need to be able to move beyond choices you made in the past. This is true for organizations and for individuals. For instance, I don't compare myself to my business school classmates based on their title or how much money they make or how big their house is. I have to be content with the choices I made, which may or may not compare favorably with the choices they made in other people's eyes. Otherwise, I'm stuck wondering 'what if' and that is a bad place to be.

Every choice affects your future, which is why you need to be aware of the tradeoffs, but when you make a choice, good or bad, suck it up and keep going.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
To help me find a work/life balance, I really try to compartmentalize my time. And I set that expectation with my colleagues so they know what to expect. When I am at work - I'm focused, attentive, and in a work mindset. When I'm home with my family, at the end of the day - I do home chores, play, cook and don't pick up my work phone. I know that after my daughter goes to bed I usually need to reconnect with work, but I'll do that after she is in bed.

This compartmentalizing is part of the reason I prefer not to work at home. At home, I want to be more in family mode, relaxed, not so 'on'. Also, being around my colleagues allows a lot more of the creative work juices to flow and gets me in a different mindset.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Again, it's all about choices. If added flexibility is important to me and that costs me in terms of salary, then I've made that decision knowing the tradeoff. I value the flexibility to do non-work things more than any of the tradeoffs. I tend to believe at MyHealthDirect that choice is much easier to make than at other organizations because our culture embraces work/life balance for our employees.

I think for women specifically, everyone wants so much of your time, but when do you say 'yes' to those outside things, especially if it is during your work hours? It's not that men don't also have these multiple pulls. It just seems that many of the men I have worked around don't have as many outside-of-work pulls, or they have others to handle those outside items for them. Some of this is our own doing and the choices we make - committing to too many things.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship is an interesting issue for me. I have never really found someone specific to be my all-purpose mentor. Instead, I find people to talk to and learn from in many areas of my life. I think the closest I have come to a mentor is a woman I met when I started a company. She was also working with an early stage company. Since shortly after we met, we have been having a coffee chat every month to talk about issues we are running up against, getting advice, supporting each other, and keeping each other going. It has been one of the most useful relationships in my career, even though it has been more of a colleague to colleague relationship.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I tend to gravitate toward women of influence for a variety of reasons - whether they are the leader of their organization, a spouse, a volunteer, or a mom. I seek out women who have personality traits, morals, and skills that I aspire to have. Mostly I enjoy reading about or speaking with women about their experiences, motivations, and tradeoffs, because it makes me think about how I am handling or reacting to things in my life.

What do you personally and professionally want to accomplish in the next year?
This year I committed to a Board position with a local volunteer organization that I have been involved with for ten years. Personally, I would like to be a good steward of the organization and help it work through some fairly large structural changes that we have planned.

Then I want to take a step back to reevaluate how I use my non-work hours. I am going to realign some of my time to participate in more professional development and networking opportunities locally and perhaps nationally. A couple of years ago, I was much more involved in those types of professional activities and I have realized that I enjoyed the experience and am missing that engagement. I find that the professional activities help me to understand me and my organization's current place in the industry and our community better, and then to more clearly see the opportunities of where we can continue to grow.