Meet the Collective: Hi, Nicole.
Meet the Collective is our series highlighting the great people who make up Collective Health. Today, we’re sitting down with Nicole Burke, VP of Sales — East. To hear from Nicole in person, please join our Meet the Collective webinar on February 11 at 11am ET.
Where are you from?
I’ve lived in New Jersey my whole life other than my time in North Carolina where I spent a year at UNC Charlotte.
What happened in your career that led you to Collective Health?
I went to school for sociology and criminology and I actually wanted to be a social worker or probation officer. I knew whatever I did would relate to helping people. Right out of college I took a job at Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield in New Jersey which led me to my 25 year career in Healthcare on the carrier side between my time at Horizon, Aetna and Cigna. Most recently, I spent the last 14 years at Cigna where I was responsible for managing some of Cigna’s largest National Accounts and New Business Sales in the NYC/Tri-State area. But after 25 years of working on the carrier side — I was increasingly intrigued by the value proposition of Collective Health and knew it was the right next step in my career.
What excites you most about where Collective Health is going?
What excites me the most is our ability to simplify the healthcare experience not only for the members but also the clients and benefits teams. The fact that we are able to be continuously nimble and flexible is a huge draw but it also gives the client the ability to develop a benefit strategy specific to their employee population. Over the last four to five years in my prior role, I increasingly would receive RFPs that would be requesting integration in terms of point solutions and access to real time client portals. The fact that we can build out programs and plans based on what clients are looking for, execute an integrated ecosystem, provide actionable insights while being creative and flexible is exactly what appeals about Collective Health.
How do you describe Collective Health to those who are not familiar?
Honestly, simplicity and flexibility are the best things about Collective Health. I think there are many people who don’t know quite where to place us in the healthcare space. I’ve advised them to think of us as a fully integrated healthcare carrier solution. They’re used to thinking about disparate point solutions and the needs of their employee population. But Collective Health is able to bring together those disparate offerings and pair them with the right level of engagement and insights to create a meaningful investment for the employers and employees.
What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?
The ability to be a team player. Regardless of your role, the one thing I have learned in my career — regardless of level — if you work collaboratively with people and respect individuals, it goes a long way. Treating people with respect and dignity will always carry you in your career.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
My favorite thing to do when I am not at work is spend time with my family — my husband and my four kids. I have a daughter in ninth grade, a daughter in seventh grade and my twins (daughter and son) in fourth grade. My favorite place to be during my free time is the shore. We have a house on Long Beach Island in New Jersey and every chance I get I want to be there with my family. I’m also very social so I love to entertain and be around friends, when that’s allowed of course.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that inform what you do today?
When I was in middle school I thought I would work in fashion or something on the retail side. I always loved to shop and still do! However, at the end of the day I always wanted to work with people. Even more than that, I knew I wanted to help people if I could. I did a lot of volunteering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters throughout college and as part of my field of study I did a lot of work in foster homes. Ideally if it was possible, I wanted to help children. I see what I do now as contributing to that, ultimately helping individuals and families access the right benefits. And I know that Collective Health makes it easier for people to get the care they need while simplifying the day to day member experience while ultimately controlling costs.
How would you say technology can work better in healthcare?
Technology can work better in healthcare by giving individuals the ability to be engaged. Technology has the ability to create, maintain and scale that engagement when it comes to healthcare. Technology can also deliver insights and greater understanding to employers and their employees which makes everyone more engaged in the benefits space. Technology also helps employers, brokers and consultants understand what is driving the trends in consumption and engagement. These kinds of insights help drive intelligent plans which improves health outcomes for all while also identifying opportunities and areas for change where needed.
What’s your favorite quote?
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there,” Theodore Roosevelt. I always worked extremely hard to reach my goals. Including holding down three jobs while working my way through college. When you believe anything is possible. I also kept this quote in mind as I completed my first half marathon three months after delivering my twins and again a few years later when I completed a full marathon. Both of these accomplishments would not have been gained if I allowed myself to think otherwise. This is a message I remind my children of continuously.
Hidden talents or lack of talents?
I have been told by friends and past colleagues that I have great instinct and the ability to make personal connections easily.
Some of my best friends (some as far back as kindergarten) laugh at me sometimes with all my connections and stories from interactions with people I have met throughout the years. Especially in the pre-2020 days when I was traveling a lot and would meet people along the way that I still keep in touch with. This “hidden talent” has allowed me the fortune to capture numerous selfies with famous people along the way.