Meet the Collective: Hi, Laura.
We’re thrilled to welcome Laura Newell as our new Head of Communications. We sat down with Laura to chat about why she made the move to Collective Health, why it’s important to stay curious, and why Gwen Stefani is her spirit animal.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and with that comes being fluent in Baltimorese. I went to Boston College where I played D-1 lacrosse, and after living and working in D.C. for a few years, moved west and made the Bay Area home.
What were you up to before Collective Health?
Previously, I worked in communications at Apple, working across a number of different products and services from iOS and iCloud to Apple Pay and Apple News. Prior to that, I oversaw technology and consumer tech accounts at Allison & Partners — an award-winning global PR firm.
Why did you make the move?
It really came down to three things.
First and foremost, I was looking for a company that was mission-driven — one dedicated to a cause I could really get behind. Personally, I believe that accessing and paying for healthcare ought to be simple, transparent, and feel good. Unfortunately, that’s not the status quo. Our current healthcare system is complicated, cumbersome, and prevents people from actually getting the support they need.
And I’ve felt it firsthand. After having my daughter, I dealt with postpartum anxiety and depression. But as a new mom — struggling to keep my daughter fed, stuck at home attached to a pump — getting out of the house for 30 minutes was a challenge, so the idea of having to research providers for support, call around to see if they take my insurance, decipher paperwork, and file claims was daunting. There was so much process to getting the support I needed that I just neglected it. Sadly, I don’t think I’m alone. Collective Health’s mission to transform the health insurance experience for employers and their people — an incredibly complex and audacious goal — is something I found inspiring and refreshing.
Second, the team is unmatched. The combination of founders Ali and Rajaie — a tech leader and a practicing physician — is this inspiring marriage of ideas working together to solve one of our country’s most pressing issues. And it doesn’t stop at the top. You can feel the Collective Health culture the second you walk in the door. It’s palpable. Everyone is smart, excited, and driven — it really feels like one community marching toward a common goal.
And finally, the opportunity. Coming from one of the most valued and impactful companies in the world, I wanted to work on something that I felt was destined to make a mark. From the caliber of the investors and advisors to the sheer market opportunity popularized by the Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan announcement — I believe Collective Health is actually driving the future of American healthcare. As the Apple in me would say, this is a company poised to leave the world a better place.
What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?
Curiosity is not only a basic human attribute, but it’s imperative to innovation and has directly resulted in some of the most extraordinary discoveries throughout history. In business, especially now at a technology company tackling the complexities of healthcare, curiosity cultivates creativity. It helps us solve difficult problems and enables us to work smarter, not harder.
What’s your biggest flaw?
Definitely FOMO. I always want to be in the loop, in the know, and in the action.
What’s your favorite thing to do?
These days, hanging out with my two year old daughter is my favorite thing to do. There’s nothing quite like running around in the park with her on a Saturday afternoon.
In my past life, I loved going to concerts and moonlighted as a concert photographer for a bit. My husband ran his own music blog at the time and so we would get media passes to the Fillmore, Outside Lands, Slims, and a number of outstanding venues in the Bay Area. In fact, The New York Times picked up one of my husband’s stories and my claim to fame to this day is the photo credit under a shot of Vampire Weekend. Of all the shows I’ve been to though, Beastie Boys is my all time favorite.
Your spirit animal is…
Gwen Stefani. She’s a bad ass female.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The people — hands down. I love collaborating and working with all different kinds of people. Not only do I get to learn so much, but I never know exactly what my day is going to look like. At times that can be chaotic, but it keeps things exciting.