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Snezana Mahon with Joy Rios on HIT Like a Girl Podcast

Transcarent Chief Operating Officer Snezana Mahon, Pharm.D. joins Joy Rios on this episode of HIT Like a Girl Podcast, recorded in studio at #HLTH2022.

By Transcarent

Transcarent Chief Operating Officer Snezana Mahon, Pharm.D. joins Joy Rios on this episode of HIT Like a Girl Podcast, recorded in studio at HLTH22


Joy Rios: Hey there, and welcome to the HIT Like A Girl podcast.

Snezana Mahon: Thank you for having me.

Joy Rios: Yeah. My name is Joy Rios. On this show we talk about basically how complicated healthcare is, and each of our guests is essentially an expert sharing their expertise or their piece of the healthcare technology puzzle. So I would like to give you an opportunity to introduce yourself for a minute.

Can you tell us about where you live in the ecosystem in healthcare?

Snezana Mahon: Yeah. Well thanks for having me again, Joy. So, I'm Snezana and I'm the Chief Operating Officer at Transcarent. Here at Transcarent, we are redefining a brand new health and care experience for the consumer, and I couldn't be more excited to see what we're doing and even really inspired about what we've even seen this week here at HLTH and the amount of innovation and organizations that are focusing on whether it's the way we deliver medications, the way we deliver care, the way telehealth is delivered.

And so we here at Transcarent are taking all of those elements and really putting them into a singular experience for the consumer. And so there's just so much opportunity in front of us over the next few years.

Joy Rios: Would you mind telling me a little bit more about your story? And your profession? How did you get to where you are?

Snezana Mahon: Absolutely. So I'm a pharmacist by training. I started my career behind the pharmacy counter. Really at Walgreens retail, pharmacy, and supporting patients that were coming in every single day trying to get their medications.

And I spent about seven years in the retail setting. And then I eventually moved into the pharmacy benefit management space where I spent over 14 years in one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers in the country, really delivering better pharmacy care for members across the board. And then last year I ended up taking another shift or change in my career. And I moved to Transcarent as the Chief Operating Officer.

So I've definitely seen healthcare, both in terms of a clinician delivering care, front and center to the patients, as well as being at one of the largest pharmacy benefit managers, trying to understand the entire ecosystem, how you deliver care, and now moving to Transcarent, really focusing on the experience.

Cuz that's the one thing that’s been missing, and that I, as a clinician, as an executive leader in the organization, really feel we need to be able to deliver. And so that's what I'm really excited about.

Joy Rios: Well, it sounds like also your experience is really put to good use there too.

Snezana Mahon: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Joy Rios: Well, Transcarent is one of the lead sponsors of women here at HLTH.

Can you talk about that?

Snezana Mahon: So when we saw that there was an opportunity to sponsor Women in HLTH here, we just jumped on it right away. There's just so many opportunities to continue to sponsor women and let women really have a seat at the table. And so when we saw that, we said, why not? There's so many incredible women here from companies that range across the entire sector of healthcare and we really wanted to be part of it.

Joy Rios: So it's been really neat to see the increase of women on Yes. Like stages and platforms. It's, it's really great change. Absolutely. I love that about this. Supporting women is very important, but also men need to be part of that conversation. Let's talk about, how do we address that as far as like having men be good allies and not necessarily excluding them from the conversation of lifting up women.

It's not a women-only thing.

Snezana Mahon: Yeah, totally. I mean, when I reflect back on my career over the last 20 years, a lot of men were a part of, helping me where I'm at today in terms of really empowering me being huge supporters and advocates in, Hey, I see you doing this really, really well. How do I give you an opportunity to work on this project or this initiative?

And so I constantly say to other young women all the time, yes, seek female leaders as mentors, as sponsors, but don't leave out the male counterparts that you're working with because they can equally contribute to your overall success. But then we also need to be aware across the board that there's still a lot of inequities that are out there for women, whether it's the pay gap, whether it's just the general opportunity. Sure. We have a ton of women in the workforce just globally, right? Over 70% of the workforce in many organization is female. But the higher up you go in the chain, the fewer and fewer females are at the table.

And so when we think about even what we're doing in Transcarent is not just how do you have females in the company, but how do you have females as decision makers, how do you have females that are sitting at the table making some of the most critical decisions, whether it's from HR to technology, to product development, to finance.

And so we really pride ourselves in some of the workforce that we're even shaping within our own organizations. And it really a testament to our CEO, Glen Tullman and our board where today our executive-level team is made up of over 50% women. Our entire organization is really focusing on—whether it's UX design or technology, operations, or finance — How do you really empower women to have the thought input, the opportunities to speak up and just to have a different kind of an experience than just, Hey, I'm on a roster, right? I have women that are working in the company, but are they really contributing? Are they contributing in thought?

Are they contributing in creativity and innovation? And there's just so much opportunity that I think we haven't given women, whether it's at the executive ELT table, at board positions. And one of the reasons you asked earlier, right, why did we wanna sponsor this event? Is how do we get other people to see whether it's the VC firms, how do you invest in companies that invest in women?

How do you invest in the opportunity to just expose people that there's so much that we can be doing? So absolutely.

Joy Rios: I'd be curious to know about some of the different decisions that are made as women are at included at the table, and also kind of taking into consideration what happens when you, as somebody who has not been included in the decision-making table?

Being there now, are you more aware of missing voices and people who are not included? And maybe that gets a little bit of. I don't know. More thought in the larger conversation?

Snezana Mahon: Absolutely. And when I think back to different decisions that I've been part of, organizations that have been made when women were not at the table, you certainly miss a perspective.

Whether it's a perspective in how we think about people just in general. Like how is this decision going to impact us as an organization? How is this impacting the workforce? How is this impacting the operational sort of infrastructure that we're going to have? And women just embody some of these different perspectives that you may not have accounted for or considered.

And so having that level of consideration and depth of perspective is sometimes what's missing when certain decisions are made. And so I've certainly seen, and what I see in our own organization when we are at the table, that we kind of bring our whole selves and we've really contemplated the patients that we're serving, the providers that we're interacting with.

The people on the other side are clients who are the ultimate payers of care. And what's wonderful to see is I now continue, and I've been in this space for many, many years, I've met with the largest health-insured employers to health plans, to health systems in the country. More and more women are sitting on the other side of the table.

So when you show up in the room, right, there's this acknowledgment that we're here, we're here to stay. We're here to continue to contribute to society in a completely different way. And I think that's what makes this so exciting, is that we are being brought in more and more, and we need to continue to inspire the next generation of women to really do that well.

Joy Rios: And I like the idea of solving, or at least addressing some problems that we're otherwise completely overlooked. Totally. Or not even thought of as like, oh, I didn't even know that that was an issue. Yeah.

Snezana Mahon: Yeah. I mean, when you think about it today, right? 80% or 80 cents to every dollar is being spent by a decision made by a woman.

So when you think about the household, right? Women are the CEOs of every household. Yet in some of the most critical aspects of healthcare or other business settings, they don't get to make those decisions. And so how do we now in. Incorporate them and make them a key contributor to that, as well as how do we enable women to have more support across the ecosystem.

I know as a mom of two kids, it's not easy. You're trying to be really, really good at your job. You're trying to be a really, really good mother at home, and how do you continue to bring some of that perspective across the board and how do we provide that support to women? Whether as caregivers, caretakers tools, digital tools, right?

In healthcare. So we don't have to spend as much time trying to navigate the system at our jobs, but in our homes. So yeah. Absolutely.

Joy Rios: Is there anything unique or distinct that as a more women executive leadership team, you all are doing internally at Transcarent and or externally as solutions for some of your clients that are specifically to support women?

Snezana Mahon: Both in terms of how we work internally as an organization. It starts with, starts at the top, how we hire, how we develop, how we support women. Absolutely is a core area that we continue to focus on as an organization and giving that outlet to women to say, what's missing here?

What haven't we thought about? How can we support you through all the various different stages of work, right? Whether you just got married and you're trying to have a baby to, you know, you're all the way on the other end of your career, right? You're in the middle of menopause. Like how do we help support that segment?

And so having this all-inclusive workforce and bringing your whole self to work, we're very, very, very much focusing on that as an organization. But then too, how do we provide solutions for our clients? And we've had a lot of talk here this week around women's health. It is still a huge area of opportunity from a total cost of care management from a team, as well as how do we continue to derive solutions that's been on the spectrum of support for women. And there's so many opportunities. You know, we hear Transcarent is giving women the opportunity to, whether it's using telehealth, right? How do you deliver better care, quicker care?

How do you get a doctor on the phone for your child that's sick. You gotta get to work within 30 seconds, you can chat with a doctor, you can be productive at work, you can. The care taken care of for your family members. And so really being able to empower and enable the women across the board.

So whether it's the way we design solutions, the way we bring them to market, the way we empower the women that we work with across the board.

Joy Rios: I'm also curious, you hadn't touched on it earlier, but about mentors. Yeah. And so I'm sure you've had some amazing mentors. I'm sure you've also been an amazing mentor.

Is there, are there any experiences from either side of that coin that stand out to you?

Snezana Mahon:  Both. Let's start off with the mentors that I've had over the years. I've had so many to name, and sometimes it's not just the mentors, it's sort of the silent advocates that you don't even know, right? That are behind the scenes sort of vouching for you and saying, Hey, I've seen you do this incredible thing that open up doors and opportunities.

So over the years, whether it was in retail pharmacy setting or in the pharmacy benefits management space. I had leaders who just gave me opportunities and one of the main things that I was taught early on was never say no to any opportunity, and I just took them on even in areas when I didn't even believe in myself at the time, like, are you sure you want me to do this?

You want me to take on a team? I have no expertise in this particular area. But they saw something in me to say I wanna give you a chance, I want you to try this. And once you try it and you actually do it, you actually realize, wow, I can, I can do this.

Joy Rios: Things are figure-outable.

 Snezana Mahon: Things are figure-outable. Absolutely. There's nothing that you cannot figure out, and it's all predicated on how passionate you are. If you believe in yourself and what you're doing, you can do anything. And so, I've had so many of those opportunities over the years, and you do one thing and you do it again, and you do it again, and your confidence level grows that you can absolutely do that.

There were mentors in the early days. You know, I used to be a big introvert. Now I'm big extrovert, and you can make that pivot. And it started off with, you know, Hey, I need you to do this presentation. I need you to do the finalist. And then the stages kept getting bigger of, oh, now I need you to present in front of 3000 people.

It's like, oh boy, I wasn't ready for that. But you sort of grow in that confidence and you just sort of start being more relaxed and you start being more of yourself. And I feel a lot of that was contributed by the mentors that I had, um, over the years. And so I've taken those lessons and now I wanna give back.

So as I see women in the work force, early stages to later stages. It's like I've seen, I've been in some of those stages that you're in right now, and let me give you some perspective. And so some of the key things that I tell women all the time is be outspoken because if you're, if you have a seat at the table and you choose not to say anything, it's a missed opportunity.

And so you have an opportunity to provide your thoughts, which are extremely meaningful. You're one thought away, right from a different decision from being made. And so if you don't speak up, so that's the number one thing I say to people all the time. Second is just continue to advocate for what's right.

If you see something, say something. If you have the opportunity to drive that change. I feel like all of us have an opportunity to be those change advocates. And then the other thing that I mentor women on right now too is that, you can have it all from a career perspective.

You know, 20 years ago, I even remember, being in college and it was this trade off. You know, when you get married you can have kids and you can choose to stay at home. You can work part-time. And that was actually one of the things that they were advertising in pharmacy school. Pharmacy was a great profession for women where you can work part-time, you can work three days and you can have kids.

I'm like, I wanna work full-time. I don't just need to work part-time. I contribute to society in a bunch of different ways and so, especially in today's environment, post-Covid, where the workforce is so virtual, you can work full-time, you can contribute, you can work on the schedule that works for you, and you can have the kids and you can have a great team.

And, so anyway, I continue to provide that advice and that mentorship for other women.

Joy Rios: I’d be curious about mentorship for men. Yeah. Have you touched on that at all? Because sometimes I think that there, there are men out there who could, well, it would be helpful if they were open to listening.

Snezana Mahon: Open to listening.

Joy Rios: I think that's part of the conversation of like, Hey, if you're at the table and you have a different perspective and you're bringing up a problem that maybe has been missed. Yeah. How can we mentor the men in our organizations to be open to listening and actually acknowledging and realizing, and you know what, that is a real problem that needs to be solved? And let's do it together, or something along those lines.

Snezana Mahon: Over my career, I've worked with men and women and it's in some points in time, I've had more men on my team than women, some, it's been an equal split, and it's definitely a different way. The way you communicate, the way you collaborate, and the way they just seek to understand information and I would say one of the things over the years that I've also seen is as a woman leader, if you are too tough, right?

The male counterparts may perceive that as, oh, now you're starting to appear in a more aggressive aspect of how you sort of manage me versus saying here are the expectations. Here's what we would love to deliver together. You give me your point of view and what you need to be successful. Here's what I'm gonna tell you, what I expect of you, and I think as long as you upfront acknowledge what success looks like, how you want to work, how you want to be developed, how you want to receive feedback.

So I'll tell you, yeah. Many women receive feedback very, very differently.

Joy Rios: Yeah, I agree.

Snezana Mahon: Being able and honest upfront on what that looks like is really important. And then same thing, you know, on the female counterpart front, they need sometimes more emotional support. Being more comfortable with sharing information.

And in today's world, people wanna be heard. People wanna be seen. People wanna bring their whole selves to work. And as managers, nobody has given us a textbook on how you manage today's workforce that wants to have a completely different conversation. Where before, it was just, let's talk about, you know, OKRs.

What were the goals? What were the objectives? Did we accomplish them? Now we're gonna accomplish them, did we not accomplish them? Well, now it's all about, well, okay. That's 50% of what I really brought to the table, but now let's talk about me as a person. And so, yes, absolutely. I think men and women take that differently. And then the last thing I would say is there are these two dichotomies of the world that women are always put into these categories.

It's either you're too tough and if you're too tough, you're not liked, you're not kind, but you have a seat at the table. You have a seat at the executive decision table. If you're a kind leader and you have the opportunity to really collaborate and listen well, maybe you're too weak, you're sort of a pushover, and how do you find that balance of that competence, that voice?

But then also that kindness so people will continue to follow that wanna listen, that wanna drive that. And I think there is that balance of that competence and that kindness. You can have both. You need to have both to be successful. Otherwise like, oh, you're this hard, bad person.

Joy Rios: Somebody I had a conversation with a few weeks ago, put it very succinctly, she's, I realized when I got to a point in my career, I didn't wanna be feared, I wanted to be followed. And it's like if you're showing up as a leader, I think sometimes women have felt like they have to be this cold, hard, really like stringent way of being. And it's like, actually, that might not land so well. You do need that…

Snezana Mahon: You need that warmth, you need that. You need that relatability that, people wanna know that I start off every one-on-one with every single person of how are you? First family first. Like, what did you do yesterday? How's your family?

How's your son or daughter, or something that you're doing? And then you start talking about the work because people wanna know that you care about them as a person, not just the work that they're contributing. And so just always thinking about those aspects of, you know, everything, remembering your birthdays, your anniversaries, your special things that matter to you.

And I think if you do that as a leader, everything else sort of follows and you end up having more of that, that following versus that fearing. Yeah. But sometimes right, you still gotta deliver goals, you gotta deliver objectives. You have to be able to be clear, open, and honest with people, but you gotta have this other element otherwise, you know, why would you wanna work?

Joy Rios: It's reminding me of being on a basketball team in high school where the coach was brought in a piece of luggage and he was just like, we're all gonna leave our baggage at the door, right? And you're gonna like, just whatever is bothering you today, just don't think about it.

We're gonna focus here, but that doesn't actually really no help. You can't. It's a nice analogy, but you can't really do that if something is really bothering you, you're bringing it with you wherever you go. Yeah. So we have… 

Snezana Mahon: Absolutely, and I think our employees, they wanna see us like do the work too, like rolling up our sleeves.

And I think that's the one thing about women, in particular, we want to do that. We don't just wanna sit on the sidelines and see, oh yeah, this works like this, or this works like this. Have you actually tried doing this? And uh, in the role that I serve as the Chief Operating Officer, I am the chief operator, right?

It's just like the chief plumber, the chief, et cetera. And so really being in the nuts and bolts of trying to understand how stuff works. And when your team members see that you understand what it's like to be on the other end and also set strategic direction is ultimately where I think you have the magic in how the teams work together.

Joy Rios: I love the magic. I have one last magical question and it's kind of sidelined. but it's what do you think eight-year-old Snezana would think of your life and what you're doing and your place in the world right now?

Snezana Mahon: Gosh, when I think back when I was eight, I always wanted to be in the medical profession and I always said I was gonna be a doctor or a pharmacist or something in the science-related field.

But never did I think that I would get to do something of this breadth that I'm doing and the exposure and the opportunities that I'm having and just continue to push the envelope. Anything is possible. And you know back then, right, if I would've said, oh, this isn't possible and this isn't possible, it actually is if you're ultimately committed and passionate about what you're doing.

And so I think it's that passion and that drive that transcends too. And I hope every single woman here at HLTH continues to do that and inspires their younger selves, their children, and other fellow people here to just do so much more.

Joy Rios: Well, thank you for everything that you're doing, and thank you for being on the show.

Snezana Mahon: Thank you for having me.

Joy Rios: Yeah. So if people want to follow you or connect with you, where would you direct them?

Snezana Mahon: They can send me an email at Transcarent or send me a LinkedIn request. We'd love to connect with them.  

Joy Rios: Okay, fantastic. We'll include that in the show notes.

Thank you again for being here.

Snezana Mahon: Great. Thank you so much. Have a great day.

Joy Rios: Thanks for listening. You can learn more about us or this guest by going to our website or visiting us on any of the socials with the handles HIT Like A Girl Pod. Thanks again. See you soon.

Again, thank you so much for listening to the HIT Like a Girl podcast. I am truly grateful for you and I'm wondering if you could do me a quick favor? Would you be willing to follow or subscribe to this podcast or maybe leave us a rating or review? Or if you're feeling extra generous, would you share this episode on your Instagram stories or with a friend? All those things help us podcasters out so much.

I'm the show's host, Joy Rios, and I'll see you next time.