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Tag: life at BCS

17 Jul 2019

Meet the Team – Product Development

Bruce Bahn, Vice President, Product Development shares a day-in-the-life of the Product Development team at BCS, and provides additional insights into the recent launch of our EssentialCare Accident and Critical Illness policies.

Q: Describe your/your team’s role at BCS.
A: The Product function at BCS Financial contributes to the growth and profitability of the organization by leading the selection, development, and maintenance of the BCS product portfolio. We are involved in a wide variety of projects which can range from strategic investments and partnerships in new businesses to new and improved features of our current product portfolio. Our key value-add is (to collaborate with business and a functional leaders) to ensure that BCS makes the best decisions in selecting and developing new and improved products incorporating a fact-based view of the customer, the marketplace, competitive set and industry environment.

Q: Tell us about a project you are working on now.
A: While I’ve had the opportunity to work on a very diverse set of projects in my first four years at BCS, the most significant project I’ve been involved with is leading the development of our new portfolio of supplemental health products including Hospital Indemnity, Critical Illness, and Accident Insurance. Like BCBS health insurance, these are products that are sold via expert agents and brokers to employers who in turn offer them to their employees as part of their benefits package. Over the last couple of years, a BCS cross-functional team has worked diligently to develop, file, and launch market-leading products that offer innovative benefits, product features, and broker / customer support capabilities. The effort to design comprehensive and flexible products for a broad range of employer sizes and needs (100-10,000+ employees) and obtain approval for all three products in all 51 states and jurisdictions has been a significant undertaking. July 2019 is the milestone month for our formal market launch with approved products in as many as 75% of country with the expectation for full nationwide availability by the end of the year. Because we are a relatively new competitor, I suspect it will take some time for the market to recognize everything BCS is bringing to the market with this new portfolio. However, given the scale of the opportunity and continued growth of the supplemental health benefits market, I see tremendous future opportunity for BCS and its’ owners.

Q: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: For me, the most rewarding aspects of new product development are those somewhat rare occasions when you can meaningfully add to the value that a product provides a customer in new or unique way. In reviewing numerous critical illness insurance product filings from established competitors, it was apparent that they all did a very good in providing customers with the essential financial support in the event of a serious physical ailment. However, none of the products I reviewed included a benefit for those inflicted with a serious mental illness. To me this was a clear gap in the coverage that BCS had the opportunity to address. So with the help of our actuarial partners, we developed a special rider that provides a benefit when a BCS EssentialCare critical illness policyholder is diagnosed with the three most common kinds of serious mental health conditions: Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Schizophrenia. This new-to-market solution can provide a needed financial support if a person’s mental illness disrupts their life in the same way as a physical condition.

Q: Describe the perfect day off.
A: A walk along the Lake Michigan shore on a beautiful summer day with my family and our dogs.

Q: What’s one non-insurance product you can’t live without?
A: The amount and pace of innovation is the greatest it’s ever been. So many new products will be emerging in the 5-10 years that will address needs we didn’t even know we had. The process of exchanging information will be at the heart of many of these new solutions for daily living, health care delivery, financial services, etc. So while it’s a predictable answer, I’m going to say the product I couldn’t live without is the smartphone. It is and will continue to be at the very center of information exchange at a personal level.

26 Jun 2019

Meet the Team – Compliance

Our June Meet the Team post features Michele O’Doherty, Manager, Policy Development and Issuance. Read on as Michele gives us a peek into the Compliance Department.

Q: Describe your/your team’s role at BCS.

A: The Compliance team’s role in the organization is very diverse. We provide direction and support in the development and filing of new products to ensure product forms are compliant with federal and state laws, and approved by the applicable state regulatory agencies. In addition, the Compliance Department is responsible for review of managed care requirements and reporting, state annual reporting and data calls, coordinating state market conduct exams, tracking and responding to consumer complaints, and disseminating new laws and regulations to maintain and ensure existing products are in compliance. We work with all internal operational departments and external business partners to provide support, guidance, and oversight.

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: Busy – Every day brings on new challenges, opportunities, and collaboration in seeking solutions to situations that need to be dealt with.

Q: What skills does someone need to succeed in your role?

A: Strong interpersonal skills such as team work, dependability, and flexibility; good written and oral communication skills, analytical skills, and attention to detail.

Q: What do you like most about working at BCS?

A: The people, the opportunities, and the collaboration with a group of dedicated people.

Q: The Compliance department ensures the company follows insurance regulation and rules. What’s the “golden rule” you live by? 

A: Always do what is right.

31 May 2019

Meet the Team – Underwriting

This month, Hilda Ayala, Voluntary Benefits Analyst, shares insights to her job in Underwriting, and what she’s experienced since joining Team BCS in November 2018.

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: There’s no typical day at BCS, everything depends on the time of year. Fourth quarter is our busiest season for new business and renewals; during the first and second quarter, we focus on updating underwriting and related business materials, cross training in all areas of our department, and creating a more efficient workflow for the coming fourth quarter.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I love the challenge, and how my manager constantly believes in me. She has pushed me on projects that I thought were way beyond my abilities.

Q: What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?

A: In my short 7 months, I have participated in many projects, but my favorite was my first project on “policy fulfillment”. Contracts and Underwriting had recently joined as one team, and cross training was crucial and completed in less than two weeks. The goal was to release over 400 policies, which was accomplished in less than two months! It was a great satisfaction to know I had joined the best team.

Q: What skills does someone need to succeed in your role?

A: Willingness to learn and the ability to work as part of a team is very important.

Q: Describe your department in three words.

A: Teamwork, Fun, and Fast-paced

25 Apr 2019

Meet the Team – Investments

Meet Anthony Bongiorno, Manager, Investments and Client Relations and get to know his role at BCS.

Q: Describe your major responsibilities at BCS.

A: My role at BCS is dual focused. I am responsible for managing the investment assets of BCS.  I am also a part of the Financial Services Solutions segment at BCS, which includes operating and marketing Plan Investment Fund, a SEC registered mutual fund company with a singular focus on Blue Cross Blue Shield entities.

Q: What key projects are you working on now?

A: We are currently exploring creating a BCS Cash Portal exclusively for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which would allow Blues to invest in a diversified suite of liquidity products.

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that each day is different from the next. Depending on what time of year it is my focus can either be on our investment performance and manager evaluation, marketing Plan Investment Fund, exploring ways we can add value to Blue Plans through our Financial Services Solutions or helping to foster the “having fun, getting things done” culture we have at BCS through my work on the Culture Team.

Q: What drew you to work for BCS?

A: I was interested in a company where I could dive deeper into the investment world and also be a part of a firm where I could make an impact. Coming from a large company where it was much harder to make an impression, I was drawn to the opportunity that BCS presented of working on a small team within Financial Services at a company with a very unique mission. BCS is a community of individuals working together versus a hierarchy of different roles and responsibilities. Everyone’s work and opinions matter and are integral to the success and culture of the organization.

Q: What’s your favorite way to invest in yourself?

A: My favorite way to invest in myself is through reading, always asking questions and putting the work in. There are certain people you come across in life that it seems like things come as second nature to them, whether it be in their career or a hobby. I have always been a person where if I have a desire to learn or get better at something, I need to read, talk to people about it and practice at it. I believe that any person can succeed in any career or hobby if they put their mind to it. For me to do that I need to continue learning.

11 Apr 2019

IT Department Participates in Biannual Hackathon Event

Twice a year, BCS’ IT department participates in a “Hackathon” that allows employees two days off to spend time honing their craft. Participants can use the time to learn new technologies, address a nagging problem, or innovate new concepts and ideas to better the business.

Last month, seven cross-functional teams participated in Hackathon projects, including:

  • Improving the project tracking and requirements process
  • Maximizing the Office 365 suite to automate approval processes and flows
  • Innovating ideas for the Culture Team
  • Refreshing internal databases and processes

These events provide opportunities for innovation, imagination, and initiative, and help further our company and our culture.

27 Mar 2019

Meet the Team – Cyber

This month we feature Tammy Kocher, director, Cyber Liability Underwriting, and the 2018 Christine Pulak award recipient.

Tammy was nominated twice for this year’s Pulak award. Nominators described her as a “positive force that services both internal and external partners” and an “infectious influencer” that people gravitate to for “personal touch and subject matter expertise.” Read on for more positivity and a peek into the daily life of a Cyber Underwriter at BCS.

Q: Describe your role at BCS.

A: I am the lead underwriter for our BCS cyber portfolio, which includes CyberBlue, our product designed for Blue Cross Blue Shield companies, and Excess Cyber Liability, where I work with companies of all shapes and sizes on an excess basis.

My role is a blend of technical underwriting (pricing and analysis of cyber risk), product management, account management, relationship management, and sales all rolled into one exciting role!

Q: What does a typical day at BCS look like for you?

A: There’s no such thing as a typical day. I like to say I have traded in my D1 Collegiate hoopster high-tops for my new sport “juggling” for the last 15 years in Cyber—and I could not be more thrilled.

The key for me every single day is connecting and educating, while bringing in new clients and keeping the ones we have very satisfied. I develop and foster connections with brokers and clients, analyze and assess risk, and manage the pricing strategy for our products, and more.

I also connect with my amazing internal teammates, as well as our extremely talented partners in London, in all stages of what I do to accomplish our goal. I am the conduit to being sure I get all our key partners involved.

Q: What do you like most about your job? 

A: It all comes down to helping people.  I work with the best brokers in the industry, the most passionate and sophisticated clients, and teammates that continue to inspire me to be my best and bring my best.

I am also very involved with my professional and personal network of cyber colleagues outside the company, I speak at many events, and I dedicate time to learning and reading about cyber threats, market development and news. No matter how long you’ve been in the business, there’s always an opportunity to learn and I am a proud and networked cyber nerd!

Q: You joined BCS in August 2016. What drew you to the company?

A: I was originally hesitant to leave a job I liked in the city for a role in the suburbs, but I saw the culture at BCS as one that would let me use my skills, and be a part of a very talented team. I was drawn to the “entrepreneurial role”, which would involve wearing a lot of hats, and company that BCS is. I went with my gut, and it was the best decision.

Q: As an underwriter, you assess risk. What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

A: I was given the opportunity to speak in front of the Secret Service and create a panel within my network to speak about cyber insurance.  I speak at a lot of events, but this of course is at a super high-level of professional detail. It was an extremely gratifying experience – I learned as much from them as they did from me/us.

22 Feb 2019

Meet the Team – Marketing

According to Property Casualty 360°, the insurance industry will need to fill 400,000 positions by 2020, representing a variety of roles and professions. In honor of Insurance Careers Month, we are turning the spotlight on a profession that you may not think of when you think insurance. Get to know Lindawati, senior graphic design specialist in our Marketing department, with these five questions:

Q: Describe your role at BCS.

A: As a senior graphic designer, I’m responsible for delivering design solutions that meet company and marketing strategies from concept to completion. My work includes leading the visual development of BCS collateral, supporting our departmental and cultural teams, and maintaining the BCS brand.

Q: What key projects do you have on the horizon?

A: One of the key projects this year is the evolution of our BCS brand. We used to have multiple logos for different divisions, but now, we are simplifying the brand to unify our company internally as well as strengthen our brand position in the market.

Q: What does BCS stand for?

A: Fun fact – BCS is not an abbreviation. It doesn’t stand for anything at all! However, there is a theory that the name is a play on Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCS Financial Corporation is owned by all primary Blue Cross Blue Shield licensees and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association).

Q: What do you like most about working in the insurance industry?

A: Two things top my list: the work and the people. I like that the insurance industry is a dynamic field—where innovation and development of new ideas and products are highly appreciated. BCS, particularly, offers me the opportunity to be innovative and creative. I also get to work with the most talented, dedicated, and passionate people. Together, these make my job fun!

Q: Design your perfect day off.

A: I like spending time with my family and doing creative activities like finger painting. One time, we had too much fun splattering paint onto our bathroom’s wall at home. There was paint everywhere—it was messy, but we had a good laugh. And luckily, the paint is washable.

15 Feb 2019

Christine Pulak Outstanding Service Award

Providing exceptional service is a cornerstone of highly successful companies. The culture at BCS embraces individuals and teams that provide outstanding effort every day by exemplifying our company values.

 In 2009 BCS implemented a program designed to recognize an employee who regularly exhibited the highest levels of service as determined by our employees.  This achievement is recognized annually through the Christine Pulak Outstanding Service Award.

The award is named in honor of a late employee, Christine Pulak, who exemplified Outstanding Service and all the qualities recognized in our culture during her many years of service with the company.

Employees nominate their peers who exhibit behaviors such as:

  • Wholeheartedly embracing change and is an outstanding positive example to others
  • Regularly offering suggestions or actions to improve a process
  • Taking personal accountability and perseveres to find solutions
  • Not only participating on teams, but is able to collaborate to achieve the desired outcome
  • Consistently providing outstanding service to external or internal customers


14 Jan 2019

Meet the Team – Human Resources

Kicking off the new year is a Q&A with Patrick O’Rourke, director, Human Resources – Talent Acquisition, and member of our Culture Team. Get to know Patrick – and BCS – through the five questions below.

Q: What are your major responsibilities at BCS?

A: I am responsible for a variety of human resources functions at BCS Financial. I lead all talent acquisition efforts and provide counsel to leadership team regarding organizational change initiatives. I also support various BCS Culture-related activities.

Q: What’s something you are working on right now?

A: One of the recent changes that BCS has experienced is launching our work-from-home (WFH) program. Our WFH Program complements our flexible work schedule. Working towards a healthy work-life balance is something that is important to all our people and we believe that offering team members flexibility in terms of where they work will allow for increased productivity while reducing some of the stress of commuting.

Q: What are you looking for when recruiting for BCS?

A: At BCS Financial we have core values that we look for in addition to looking for technically proficient professionals. We call these values our key positive forces and we believe that individuals that operate with these values top of mind will not only produce excellent results for the organization but will also contribute to creating a healthy work environment.

Q: Describe the culture at BCS in three words.

A: Heartfelt, Motivated, Productive

Q: What did you want to be when you were a kid (besides HR, of course!)?

A: I was going to be a professional hockey player. I left my glory years of high school hockey in the rear-view mirror long ago and got into coaching. I now serve as a private coach for children in my community.

27 Dec 2018

Meet the Team – Claims

For December’s Meet the Team series, we sit down with Chuck Burke, vice president, Claims.

Q: Describe your team’s function.

A: As vice president of our Claims department, I undoubtedly believe that Claims is the heart, backbone and soul of the organization. Efficient claims management is critical to the success of any insurance company. Our role is to ensure that valid, covered claims are paid by the company in a timely manner. We want to provide exceptional customer service in the event of a covered loss. The Claims Department handles or oversees Medical Stop Loss, Excess of Loss, Life Insurance, Short- and Long-Term Disability, Agents Errors and Omissions, Cyber and Privacy Liability, Excess Directors & Officers, Excess Managed Care Errors & Omissions, Limited Benefits, Student Accident & Health, and Travel Insurance (both medical and trip-related).   We work with all our partners, both internal and external, to provide oversight and guidance.  To paraphrase Jack Nicholson (as Colonel Jessep) in A Few Good Men, “You want us on that wall (claim), you need us on that wall (claim).”

Q: How long have you been with BCS?

A: 14 years 9 months and 19 days, but who’s counting. I really like the opportunity to wear many different hats and work closely with all our functional areas. Every day is a different day.

Q: What would you say is the most important skill someone in your profession needs?

A: A curious mind.  Claims can be like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.  Questions are the puzzle pieces and being able to put them together can be challenging.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: At the end of the day I feel that my department has contributed to the success of the organization.  We are able to see the positive impact of the Claims Department to the overall health of BCS.  At other companies you don’t necessarily see that or feel that way.

Q: What is your claim to fame?

A: My claim to fame is that I got all three of my kids through college, out of the house and mostly off the dad payroll.