April 11, 2016
Women In Business 2016

Jill Rubin Hummel drives change in evolving healthcare industry

PHOTO | Steve Laschever
PHOTO | Steve Laschever
Jill Rubin Hummel is President and General Manager, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

President and General Manager, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield

In 2010, as vice president of payment innovation at Anthem Inc., Jill Rubin Hummel spearheaded a company-wide effort to more from a fee-for-service payment model, in which healthcare providers are reimbursed for each office visit, to one in which they are reimbursed for helping patients to manage their health on a continuing basis.

Although the concept is still evolving, it remains her crowning achievement. She envisions a day when technology will enable patients to receive most round-the-clock health services on an outpatient basis — even in their own homes — in the same way it enabled banks to offer 24-hour service.

"I'm incredibly proud of leading the team that helped Anthem get into that space," she said. "It was exciting. It was cutting edge and I felt like I was making a difference."

John Keith, principal at Deloitte Consulting, who worked on the project for Anthem, raved about the way Hummel engaged the company's technical, medical and financial experts in contributing to it.

"I've seen lots of people try to get things like this off the ground and very few of them succeed as well as Jill did," Keith said. "She has vision. She has incredible drive and she's disciplined."

Hummel made enough of an impression that she was named president and general manager of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Connecticut office four years later, not unusual for a career business executive, but certainly for a woman who entered the profession after working 17 years as an attorney.

"It's a little bit of a circuitous route," she says. "The person who retired from this role before me was younger when he retired, than I was when I took this job."

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Hummel's family moved upstate to Corning, when she was 3 months old. But her parents divorced when she was 4, forcing her mother, who did not have a college degree, to move with Jill and her two brothers into her grandfather's apartment in Lefrak City, a giant working-class housing complex in Queens. Hummel lived there until she graduated high school. Her mother and role model, Margaret Brisbois, went on to earn a bachelor's degree, two master's degrees and become a teacher, all while raising three children alone.

"From a very young age, she impressed upon me the importance of being financially independent — that you shouldn't be dependent on a man," Hummel said. "She wanted me to get married and have a nice family life, but she didn't want me to have the kind of struggles that she had."

Hummel's mother also impressed on her that she was going to major in political science and attend law school, which she did, at the University of Rochester and at the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo.

Upon graduating from law school, Hummel and her husband, Zachary, whom she met while attending college, stayed in St. Louis. She specialized in healthcare law, including work as general counsel to a health maintenance organization, where she discovered she liked the business side of healthcare more than the legal side.

From then on she worked on building her professional portfolio to help make that shift and, in 2001, was hired to her first non-legal position at UnitedHealthcare, where she rose to Northeast regional vice president for network management. She joined Anthem in 2007 as a vice president in provider engagement and contracting.

"I felt there would be a good trajectory here for me to be successful because there were a number of very successful people at Anthem who were also 'recovering' attorneys," Hummel said.

She and her husband also found time to raise two sons and a daughter: Tristan, 29, a married artist living in Chicago; Kerrigan, 25, who is studying for her master's in social work at Washington University; and Stefan, 21, a senior at Colgate University. They did it, she said, by adjusting their schedules so that one parent was always present and available to the children.

"There's no such thing as work-life balance. You have to just make conscious choices," she said. "If you asked my kids, I think they would say they didn't really feel they had a working mom because I was there."n

What are your keys to …

Maintaining business success:

Five things immediately come to mind. First, attract and retain the best talent. Second, work hard and don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves. Third, act with integrity. Fourth, recognize that your success often depends on others inside or outside of your organization; ensure that they want you to be successful. Finally, love what you are doing.

Maintaining work-life balance:

I have workaholic tendencies so work-life balance doesn't come naturally to me. Early in my career, my work-life balance came in the form of three children. Though I might not take time away from work for myself, being a good and actively engaged mother who was present in the moments with them was my priority. With my children grown I found that I have to consciously and deliberately "schedule" balance. Today that means planning activities with my husband.

Keeping a competitive edge:

Maintaining a competitive edge is a marathon, not a sprint. It's important to be aware of what your competitors are doing, but not allow yourself to be overly influenced by it. Instead, build an organizational culture that creates a laser-sharp focus on the customer.

Read about the other outstanding 2016 Women in Business.

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