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Meet the Collective: Abbie Buck, Chief People Officer

Get to know Abbie Buck, Collective Health's Chief People Officer. Abbie shares how the People team plays an essential role in nurturing company culture.


Meet the Collective is our series highlighting the great people who make up Collective Health. Today, we’re sitting down with Abbie Buck, Chief People Officer.

Where are you from?

I am a long-time bay area resident but originally from Hawaii and spent a lot of my life in Santa Barbara.

What happened in your career that led you to Collective Health?

As I thought about making a career shift, I was looking for specific elements and was immediately attracted to Collective Health. I only interviewed seriously here, and it was a very deliberate decision. Some of the things that attracted me were the people I met during my interview process and the mission of the company. I have always been drawn to companies that transform an industry, but with Collective Health, I also feel personally connected to the mission. To work with Collective Health is truly a unique opportunity — not only am I able to be a part of building an amazing culture shaped by mission-driven people at Collective Health itself, but given the company serves and oversees the health and benefits of nearly a quarter of a million people across its 50+ clients, it’s a chance to have influence and a real impact across American healthcare.

What excites you most about where Collective Health is going?

It’s not just the mission-driven mindset and transformation-focused people that attract me, but also the fact that Collective Health solves a lot of the issues we face as people traversing the healthcare landscape today. Part of the appeal is also being able to learn more about the healthcare industry as I go.

Collective Health is in a really exciting stage as a business. I have spent the last six years in hyper growth environments, and having been there with Splunk and PayPal, I know my expertise lends itself to helping Collective Health grow. It’s about being able to scale the business and its core functions while also building the culture and people to support those goals. I consider it the job of the People Team to keep pace and see around the corners — anticipating and planning for how we can maintain and build culture as we grow, creating elements that foster and reinforce our core values as a company. At the same time, it’s important to accept that change is the only constant in the world we live in. There are challenges and opportunities that come with that and I’m excited to help ensure that the People team helps propel the company forward with an eye particularly on attracting world class talent, creating fulfilling employee experiences, helping foster great leadership, and enabling people managers — and I look forward to doing all of this with the amazing talent already at Collective Health.

What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?

There are two that come to mind.

  • Coming at problems with a high degree of empathy is important. Everyone has a different perspective and lens that they are going to apply to a given situation. You have to be empathetic to different points of view as you go through the process and it can be really powerful when you’re intentional about it.
  • The second lesson is a great piece of advice I was given early in my career while interviewing. I went into the interview thinking, and even candidly admitting, there are so many things that I have never done, and I’m not totally qualified. The person I interviewed with told me, “if you knew how to do everything this job required, you wouldn’t want to do this job.” Finding roles where you are forced to learn and grow requires taking some risk, but also reminds you that you do know how to solve hard problems even if you haven’t solved that particular problem before.

What’s your favorite thing to do?

Almost anything that has to do with my family, and preferably outdoors. I have a wonderful husband and two daughters (Age 15 and 17), who are both super fun and totally maddening, as teenagers can be! But we all love to do things together — skiing, hiking, traveling, playing games. Regardless of the activity, we have fun doing it together.

As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that inform what you do today?

When I was five, I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Embarrassing but true. I’m quite happy that that didn’t work out.

What’s your favorite quote?

I would always rather laugh than cry.

You’ve worked with companies that have dozens of offices around the world, how do you maintain consistency of employee experience across offices?

Culture is a team sport. I do not believe that the People function owns culture. Everyone owns it. However, the People team plays an essential role in nurturing culture by helping to shape what behaviors are emphasized and recognized, employee communications, our physical environment and other experiences which connect what we say is important with how we behave collectively.

These areas of focus, among others, end up reinforcing the culture. Employees’ minds tend to go to the perks of a company, but culture shows up in the minutiae of the day to day. Facilities and events are visible signals of a culture but what you hold your managers accountable for, how they behave, how you inspire and communicate vision to the team is far more important. These factors become even more foundational when you are in a changing or growing environment. Not everything is going to look the same across offices, and the manifestation of values can look different too as well as evolve over time. But when we come from a place of common values, behaviors and experiences can be consistent and these are critical to building a positive and enduring culture

Do you have any hidden talents or lack of talents?

Well….singing is definitely not one of my talents! When I was in 5th grade, I was told by a teacher that my singing voice is so bad there’s likely a growth on my larynx! However, I love all sports — either to watch or participate. As someone from Hawaii, I came from a very outdoorsy family — swimming, riding horses, playing tennis etc. It’s valuable for me to connect with the outdoors and helps me feel focused and centered when I’m indoors and working.

What attracted you to the Leadership at Collective Health?

Honestly, I was really attracted to and inspired by the personal connection that each executive has with the mission. It’s clear it’s not just a war of “the best ideas” but there’s an overall capability and horsepower about the Leadership team. In addition, it’s just really important to me to work with smart people with considerable domain expertise. This is made abundantly clear in the quality of the team in terms of how they showed up, even just during the interview process.

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