Meet the Collective: Hi, Linda.
Meet the Collective is our series highlighting the great people who make up Collective Health. Today, we’re sitting down with Linda Wells, our new Head of Recruiting.
Where are you from?
I grew up outside Washington DC, in McLean, Virginia. Funny enough, most of my neighbors worked for the CIA. I lived there until I was 18 and then moved 9 times in 12 years. I studied Engineering at Georgia Tech and then worked for Dupont. My career in engineering took me all throughout Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois. I’ve actually been to all 50 states from traveling and many moves. But admittedly I didn’t love engineering and wanted a change of pace. So I went to business school and reimagined what my career path would be.
What happened in your career that led you to Collective Health?
When I was working as an engineer, I was making bleach and other nasties. But I wanted to use my skills to make the world a better place. And I felt like I could accomplish that by pursuing a career in higher education. When I was in business school I worked with a number of physicians and realized that healthcare really needed help. That led me to work for El Camino Hospital, then consulting with Palo Alto Medical Clinic, Kaiser, and Sharp, and a healthcare software vendor in telephone triage in Boulder. After spending 15 years in higher ed, it laid a solid foundation for doing what I think I do best — mentoring and connecting good people.
I found my way into recruiting through a company called Medallia. During that time, and even before, I had always commuted to the bay area. I’ve always joked I have dual citizenship in Utah and the bay area — so I’m very comfortable in both environments. So, Collective Health was really a culmination of all those things — a mission driven company, a role where I can recruit and network good people, live in Utah, and work to improve healthcare.
What excites you most about where Collective Health is going?
Honestly, the affirmation of what Collective Health has done so far that excites me for the future.
It is no secret that healthcare is such a mess. I’ve been out of the industry for 20 years but in that time it hasn’t improved drastically. I want to see this vision that Collective Health has through to execution. And the company’s successes to date show that we can in fact have an impact for employees by creating more clarity and I think we all have felt those pain points on a personal level.
Was there a single thing about Collective Health that attracted you?
Collective Health was the collision of all of the things I was looking for. I actually first heard about Collective Health because I worked for a company that was neighbors with them in San Mateo. After seeing the solid people this company has attracted and retained, I knew it would be a good fit for me. And it’s very rare to receive unanimously positive feedback about a company, especially from people you trust.
Did you think you’d ever be working in healthcare?
I didn’t think that I would be back in healthcare. My career has been opportunistic and circuitous largely because of where I live. I’m a mother and that comes first. I have picked careers that allowed me to prioritize my family (and my dog). I wanted to be back in an industry where I was able to create value. Working for a mission driven company really makes a difference for me. Fifteen years ago if you had asked me if I would be working in recruiting for a healthcare company, I would have said no. But if you asked if I would be working connecting people in a mission driven company, I would have said yes.
What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?
Who you work with makes the biggest difference in the world. I’ve worked for cool companies but they didn’t necessarily have nice people. And, that just doesn’t work for me. We spend a lot of time with people we work with so that matters.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
Go on a walk, go on a hike, preferably with a dog or one of my kids. For years I dragged them with me. Now my girls are 18 and 20 and they ASK to go on hikes. That’s one parenting success for me.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that inform what you do today?
Early on, I wanted to be an archeologist but I was not a great history student. My strengths were in math and science which drew me to engineering as I approached college.
Is there something you’re passionate about that carried through?
Working with young women. Fortunately I had two girls and I do it in my job and also outside of my career as well. I feel such an obligation to mentor young women (and frankly learn from them as well). It makes me feel connected and I completely understand the critical decision points they face, the peer pressure etc.
How would you say technology can work better in healthcare?
COVID has accelerated our use of technology considerably, especially telemedicine. When I was in business school — we had a health information technology class and there was a projection about 20 years from that point and we were so far from those projections. But, with companies like Collective Health changing the standards for care, I hope the tech sticks and makes it easier and more flexible.
What’s your favorite quote?
Be a kind human. It’s the root of so many things that we do. And I have to remind myself of that sometimes both inside work and outside of work when the stress mounts. But it’s incumbent on all of us.
Hidden talents or lack of talents?
My neighbors call me the dog whisperer — and you wouldn’t believe the tight spots into which I can parallel park my minivan. Although, my whole family is extremely musical — my father has perfect pitch, my sister is a professional musician, and my mom was a music major — I can play the piano but can’t sing for the life of me (but I will when alone in my car).