Women in leadership positions are important to any company, and when female leadership is an integral part of an organization, it should be celebrated. With this in mind, United Concordia Dental is fortunate to honor Vice President of Government Business, Lynne Hamilton.
When she was a college student, working as an EMT in a trauma unit, Hamilton may not have envisioned her career trajectory moving her into the role of vice president for government business (especially because she was studying secondary education, Spanish and German). However, by going with the flow of her career and embracing every opportunity, that’s exactly what happened.
Highlighting Women in Leadership
It all began when the hospital she was working at didn’t want to lose her post-graduation, so she was asked to stay on and oversee a new satellite clinic where most of the patients spoke Spanish. After three years and a location transition, she landed her first job in the Highmark enterprise as a supervisor of a medical/surgical call center. Within the next 18 months, the company chose to develop its own claims processing system and hand-picked eight individuals throughout the company to work with a team of programmers to design it, with Hamilton being one of them. They named it OSCAR. She says, “I had never had a computer, nor did I know anything about programming, but I took the opportunity and learned everything that I could.”
Once OSCAR was implemented, Hamilton received a promotion to manager of dental claims. This presented her with a new obstacle—at the time, her entire career had been based in medical space, not dental. Hamilton wasted no time learning how to read X-rays and becoming familiar with dental terminology. United Concordia Dental was created during this time, and she moved to the company.
Hamilton was then asked to do something else that was completely new to her: developing a proposal for the TRICARE Family Member Dental Plan (which was the winning bid). Shortly after this success, she was promoted to director of operations and oversaw claims and customer service. The program grew yet again in the next successful bid, which was to include OCONUS as well as Enrollment & Billing.
Hamilton says, “I have worked for Highmark for 33 years and consider it a great company to have a career, as long as you approach all new opportunities with an open mind and flexibility.”
The following is an interview that was conducted with Lynne Hamilton on the topic of women in leadership:
What are some strategies that can help women achieve more prominent roles in their companies?
— I believe that women need to speak up, speak out and contribute to the overall organization in order to achieve more prominent roles. An essential piece of this strategy is preparation. Women not only need to be the subject-matter expert on an issue, they also must do the homework (e.g., analysis, research) required to achieve the credibility that leads to increased opportunity and growth.
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned and really taken to heart?
— Take a breath. Don’t immediately react.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
— We don’t toot our own horns very well. We are exceptional when it comes to cultivating a team environment and rewarding our staff, but we have a long way to go with recognizing the impact of our own contributions and being comfortable with communicating our successes.
What advice do you have for women applying for leadership positions?
— Be open-minded and flexible when it comes to your career. Many of the positions/jobs that make up my career path were chosen for me. Although some of those jobs may have seemed untenable at the time, I “went with it” and the result was increased career opportunities due to the breadth and scope of knowledge and experience gained. Take a chance on opportunities that may be out of your comfort zone.
In what ways have you found that United Concordia supports and/or encourages women in leadership positions in the organization?
— United Concordia has always supported women in leadership positions. There is representation at every level within our organization. Additionally, United Concordia’s women’s networking group addresses our challenges through education, guest speakers and peer-to-peer communication.
Today, take a moment to honor the women in leadership in your organization. If you are a woman in a leadership role, take a moment to encourage and support the other women in your company who are working their way up in their careers.