Meet Sasha Yamaguchi, VP of Sales, who will help further grow the Collective Health business in key markets.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas (which, fun fact, is the hometown of Janis Joplin). Then, I moved to California when I was 18 years old.
What happened in your career that led you to Collective Health?
I’ve always had an eye on Collective Health, and have been watching how the company has evolved since its inception years ago. I was really drawn to the entrepreneurial nature of working at a company like Collective Health – a company where I can feel that my impact is tangible on the growth of the business.
My professional experience has primarily been at a large and traditional healthcare company, Cigna, where I worked for 23 years. However, I was drawn to Collective Health because I saw how it was trying to do something different and change the ways a member interacts with the employer, their benefits, partner programs, and the healthcare system as a whole. The idea that we can help employers design and build better benefits for their people is exciting – and makes the work feel meaningful.
What excites you most about Collective Health?
I love how quickly we can see what’s going on in the market and adjust our strategy accordingly – the sheer agility of a company like Collective Health really excites me. I like that we’re not afraid of having to pivot – we actually welcome it.
I’m also truly blown away by the emphasis we put on the member experience. The continuous commitment to constantly improving the member experience and providing the best version of healthcare is a motivating thing to be a part of.
Which of your roles best prepared you for your role at Collective Health?
For the past four years at Cigna, my regional role had me partnering within multiple markets across the country, which helped me learn so much about the landscape of the markets and broker partners. Through this experience, I learned all about different network partners in multiple states including California, Texas, Illinois, and Colorado.
Additionally, my regional role gave me the opportunity to work with different networks, personalities, and producers. I also learned how to adapt quickly since I worked across many different geographies. What was unique about my previous role was that I was able to have a full view of all of the different markets, and this allowed me to consolidate those insights and provide valuable feedback to the company, beyond just where we were on the map.
What’s an example from your career or personal life that really showed you that we need to think about and approach healthcare differently?
Years ago, I went to my doctor for a very quick and minor procedure and was shell-shocked to see that my provider was going to bill $10,000. Even though I worked in the healthcare industry, and was very familiar with the way the health insurance system is set up, I was astonished – and even panicked – when I first saw the amount! This experience genuinely opened my eyes to issues around cost transparency and how it can feel like a system that is supposed to help us is working against us. It made me want to be a part of the solution.
What’s one of the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?
Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is that you can feel empowered to look ahead at what you want to do and work to make it happen – even if you are not fully in that next role yet. When I was a day-to-day service representative, I knew I wanted to be a client account manager. Knowing this, I took steps to get myself ready for that next role. I asked to be the “acting” account manager on a handful of accounts and work them as if I was the client account manager. I learned to not be afraid to push for the experience I needed to get into the role I wanted, even before I was in it.
Having spent 23 years at one company, I’ve also learned to embrace change and even be excited by it. It’s never too late to make that jump.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?
Aside from spending time with my kids and husband, I love everything when it comes to makeup. I especially enjoy spending time with my friends – usually busy moms and working moms – and consult them on makeup and skincare. My family and I are also huge foodies, so we love checking out different food spots in Southern California.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How does that inform what you do today?
I’ve always had a love for journalism, specifically sports journalism. I even wrote for my high school newspaper, and thought that could be something I could pursue as a career. What I really loved about journalism was that it gave me the opportunity to talk to people all day long – which is something I really enjoy, and lent itself to a career in sales for me!
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Collective Health in terms of our impact?
I think the biggest opportunity here is getting future generations of people to want to work in the healthcare industry. Back when the industry was more traditional, people would joke about “falling” into healthcare because it was a space with lots of opportunities.
The truth is, that idea still stands – it’s a solid industry that is ripe for continuous improvement, growth, and impact. However, I want to see younger generations look at what Collective Health is doing for healthcare and think of it as what Amazon is doing for retail, or what Apple is doing for electronics – as relentless innovators and leaders in the space.
Hidden talents or lack of talents?
My kids are super athletic, but I never played sports. However, I am an excellent cheerleader at their events! I’m also a makeup guru – I even graduated high school with a cosmetology license.
Fun fact about me:
I rode a camel at the Great Pyramids of Egypt – when I was 5 months pregnant with my son!