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June 28, 2021 The Big Picture

With its first ‘chief growth officer,’ WellSpark adapts to changing marketplace

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Andi Campbell (in center) has been named WellSpark Health’s new president.

The most valuable experience Andi Campbell had prior to her current job was being pitched by companies seeking her business.

In her last post, head of human resources at LAZ Parking, Campbell was often approached about products aimed at improving the health and well-being of the Hartford firm’s 15,000 employees. During these pitches, she often found herself with questions: “How do you know that fits with our culture? How do you know that’s going to work for us?”

So Campbell’s first priority in her new job — chief growth officer at Farmington’s WellSpark Health — was to try to answer those questions from the pitcher’s side. Since taking the post in May, she has helped create a new advisory practice that helps employers define their company culture and align it with WellSpark’s corporate wellness programs. She also creates new products and adapts existing products to meet customer needs.

“We’ll come in with our well-being solution, and say how does that fit and what else might you need?” Campbell said. “We’ll help you ideate and innovate to ensure that what we’re providing is as successful as we can make it as your partner.”

WellSpark, a recent offshoot of insurer ConnectiCare, has reported rapid growth and said it will expand its headquarters at 195 Scott Swamp Rd., and add 287 jobs over the next seven years under a state incentive program.

Greg Reilly

The chief growth officer role combines marketing, sales and product development to tailor products more specifically to customers’ needs, said Kimberly Kann, senior director of corporate communications at ConnectiCare and WellSpark. “Bringing them together really is a new way of looking at growing the business,” Kann said.

The rise of the “chief growth officer” title reflects a focus on growth common in the tech industry and other expanding sectors, said Greg Reilly, professor at the UConn School of Business and head of the school’s management department.

“Most of this is about signaling,” Reilly said. From the viewpoint of a company, the title says: “We’re trying to emphasize we care a lot about sales from new sources.”

The chief growth officer title works well as long as it doesn’t signify that a company is pursuing growth for its own sake, Reilly added.

“Sometimes we forget to differentiate between good growth and bad growth,” Reilly said. Bad growth reflects short-term thinking, is unsustainable and pulls a company away from its fundamental values and strategy.

“What looks like a good thing now might be something that comes to dilute our customers’ understanding of us,” he said.

Even so, companies are increasingly changing the names of key roles in top executive ranks to both attract talent and keep up with innovators in Silicon Valley and other hot spots, Reilly said.

“The titles are changing all the time,” he said.

Campbell, WellSpark’s new chief growth officer, in fact earlier held the title at LAZ of senior vice president for “people and culture,” one of a crop of new terms to define what was once called human resources. Other newish terms for HR include human capital management, people operations and talent management.

“Now some view the term ‘human resources’ as, ironically, dehumanizing — the relic of a time when employees were viewed not as individuals, but as cogs in a machine,” said a recent post by the Forbes Human Resources Council.

New titles are also percolating to the top levels of corporate America: Coca-Cola replaced its chief marketing officer with a chief growth officer in 2017 — then replaced that executive in 2020 with a new person with the title of global chief marketing officer.

“The Cokes of the world are trying to keep up with the newer companies,” Reilly said. Older firms want to send the message that “We’re with it, we’re modern,” he added.

In Connecticut, the few companies with chief growth officers seem concentrated in the health sector.

HealthPlanOne, a Trumbull-based sales and marketing firm with a focus on Medicare and health insurers, employs a chief growth officer. One of the handful of chief growth officer jobs posted on Indeed nationwide in recent months is at another local health firm: Evernorth, a subsidiary of Cigna in Bloomfield.

“This role is responsible for the growth strategy of the business, creating the strategic plan to drive sales across the total addressable market,” read’s Evernorth’s job posting.

Drive for post-pandemic wellness

For Campbell, the chief growth officer role at WellSpark allows her to bring together her people skills and penchant for “disruption,” another Silicon Valley term increasingly adopted nationwide. Her new employer is also looking to shake up the marketplace, she said.

“WellSpark is positioning itself as a differentiator in the wellness space,” Campbell said. “I would not be doing my job if I don’t start disrupting all over the place.”

Campbell is the right person for the role, her bosses agree.

“Andi’s background and experience fit perfectly with our comprehensive approach to address the biological, psychological and social issues employees face today,” said WellSpark President Roberta Wachtelhausen.

Particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers need help connecting with their employees to ensure optimal health and wellness in the workplace, Campbell said.

“I feel it’s an employer’s responsibility to provide tools, education and resources to help individuals improve their experiences with the healthcare system,” Campbell said. “People are struggling right now, they don’t know how to navigate the new normal. We are making wellness part of your [company’s] culture. It has to be part of the new normal.”

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