This week we interviewed Steve Presser, President and COO of BeniComp. Steve is all about pushing the envelope and moving himself and his people out of their comfort zones where he believes they can truly live up to their potential.
Presser’s background includes a BA in Fine Arts and Economics and a Masters in Fine Arts, Computer Animation. While his path from computer animator to COO is, at first appearance, unorthodox, his role at BeniComp allows him to indulge his main interests — using education and technology to proactively monitor well-being and empower individuals within his client’s companies to live healthier lives while keeping medical and insurance costs down.
Read The Interview
In this interview, Presser told us about the requirements of his role, the performance culture he fosters at BeniComp, and the benefits of process automation and streamlining workflow.
He speaks about how he leads change, disrupts complacency, and simultaneously tends to the details without losing sight of the big picture.
Your educational background is in fine arts and design, which are transferable to all industries. What drew you to the healthcare industry?
At a certain point in my career, I was bored and looking to do something bigger with purpose.
I sat down and listed out all of my interests — the things I wanted to build and accomplish. I then categorized the entire list and then further categorized it into three primary categories: health, education, and technology.
It was around this time that I reconnected with Doug Short from BeniComp and began talking about the ability to identify health risks using technology and educate and engage with members to help manage the health of populations. The rest is history.
What kind of culture do you try to cultivate at BeniComp? What programs or resources are available to help foster those cultural values?
At BeniComp we are very entrepreneurial with a performance culture that pushes people way outside their comfort zones. We encourage people to do something bigger than they could ever imagine and then provide them the people and resources to cross the finish line.
What are the 3 most important qualities that a COO should possess?
Given the driving role the COO should take in any organization the 3 key qualities are:
1) Innovation — The ability to continue moving operations forward through technology and innovation.
2) Leadership — Many initiatives won’t be wildly popular with an operational team that is happy with the status quo. When making changes, a good COO needs to effectively communicate the value proposition and lead people up some pretty steep climbs.
3) Macro/Micro Thinking — It can be very difficult for people to see both the big picture and the smallest of details, but the COO is responsible for building an ecosystem that works seamlessly. This involves bouncing between divisions, communicating how they connect and getting into the details to make things happen.
What lessons have you learned from starting your own business, and how has that experience colored your leadership style?
When you start your own business you are usually the CEO, CFO, COO, and janitor. You wear every hat until you can afford to bring someone in to assist — as a result, you find out you can learn or do almost anything.
You may not be the best at everything and, initially, you may not like it, but you find a way to get things done. Having had that experience, I’m quick to push people outside their comfort zones based on personal skill sets I see. Just because an employee has never done something doesn’t mean they aren’t the perfect fit for another role or task. Almost everyone we hire ends up finding passion projects in other divisions.
You may not be the best at everything and, initially, you may not like it, but you find a way to get things done.
What procedures do you have in place to maintain good communication between your operations and finance teams and ensure that you stay within budget?
We are a very connected organization — partially because of our size, and partially because of the way we bring together skill sets to build new products. Because our team is constantly looking for ways to reduce financial waste within the healthcare industry, we naturally look for operational efficiencies. That involves working with the financial team to discover where we are with savings.
What technologies do you use to help streamline your workflow?
We use several technologies, but we try to reduce software creep as quickly as we adopt them. Some of the tools we use include Atlassian products like Jira for development, Asana for project management, and the Google Suite of products for mail, document management, chat, and video conferencing. We also spend a lot of time building our proprietary software to optimize or automate any and all processes.
What parts of your workflow do you think could benefit from further automation?
Everything! I remember taking some major processes from $6.70 per transaction to $.60. As soon as we had achieved 90% efficiency we were looking to move things to 30 cents.
What key metrics do you frequently track to ensure operational success?
We try to hold divisional leaders, and often individual employees to weekly KPIs. Operations in our business might include several inboxes that would demonstrate any backlogs whether they be claims, form requests, tickets, or weekly transactions.
If you had all the resources you could ask for, what is one strategy or solution that you wish you could implement to better grow BeniComp?
We would greatly speed up the development of one cohesive ecosystem that automates or optimizes all processes inside our world.
What is your favorite business-related book?
Without a doubt, it is Traction by Gino Wickman. I have purchased more copies for people than I can count.
Do you have a personal motto that you live by?
I live by The Golden Rule — I try and treat others the way I would like to be treated.
Another might be “pick up the phone!” — When I see things taking a wrong turn or hear people begin to complain about someone I ask if they have picked up the phone. Emails and texts can get ugly quickly. When you pick up the phone, or better yet meet on video or in-person, you instantly calm situations down and can quickly come to resolutions.