HealthEquity blog


Remarkable leadership: 10 questions with Damien Rodgers, Member Services

DamienRodgers

We’re always on the lookout for teammates to feature in Remarkable Leadership. For this edition, we didn’t have to go far because HealthEquity has thousands of teammates with fascinating backgrounds and interesting stories to share. Take Damien Rodgers for instance. Not only is he a respected Member Services Supervisor on key accounts, he’s also a talented musician, personal trainer, and a pop culture aficionado.

 

Why is Damien remarkable? Wendy Nielson, Senior Manager in Member Services, appreciates his patience and his willingness to try new approaches. “Damien started his new role leading a team of 11 people last December and he’s blown it out of the water,” said Nielson. “His ability to read team members and find unique ways to motivate his team is what’s contributing to his teams’ success.”

 

Damien specializes in providing elite-level customer service and he’s talking to us today from his home in Atlanta, Georgia.

HealthEquity: Damien, how long have you lived in Atlanta?  

Damien Rodgers: This time around I’ve lived in Atlanta for six years. I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan. But I went to Morehouse College and grew to love it. I knew I needed to move back.  

HealthEquity: Team members around HealthEquity sing your praises, so I’m eager to learn more about your career and background. Let’s get right to the 10 questions we ask every Remarkable Leader.  

 

10 questions with Damien Rodgers

 

1. What was your first job and what is your role now?

I guess my first job was right out of high school. This is back in Detroit where I grew up. My grandpa worked for a steel company his whole career. He helped me get in touch with the HR manager who then hired me to work as an administrative assistant. It was pretty cool to work for the same company as my grandpa.

Fast forwarding a few decades, I’m now a Member Services Elite Supervisor. I love it. I have 11 people on my team and our whole goal is to provide specialized or white glove service to about 26 partner organizations. I started with WageWorks as a contractor and then moved into a full-time consultant role. I was on the phones in Client Services and I care deeply about making sure everyone I help gets their questions answered. Even though I’m on a different team now I still receive calls or emails from clients and partners I helped in the past. They reach out to ask if I can assist them with something. It feels good to know that I gave them the type of remarkable service experience that sticks with them to this day.

 

2. What is your guiding principle or North Star?

(Smiles big) OK, so this is the moment where I reveal that I’m an Audrey Hepburn fan. I love her quote, “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I'm possible’.” This is the foundation for how I talk to my team about believing in themselves. I always try to get teammates to understand that anything and everything is possible. There’s always a way to get to where you want to go. When we think about the big picture, we can make amazing things happen for people.


3. HealthEquity has a strong commitment to deliver a remarkable experience. How are we continuing to improve in this area?

I instill in my team to deliver the type of service they would want to experience. I ask them, “If you were the member or client, what type of service would you expect?” When we place ourselves in the member's position—treat them as it’s our issue or our family member’s issue—it helps to deliver that all-around Purple, remarkable experience we’re known for.

I believe there must be some level of emotional connection every time we talk to people who need assistance. I encourage my team to tap into that emotion. Callers are not just a number. We deliver information we would want to receive. Being a part of that “wow service” and changing their thought process completely? It’s everything I love about this job. So, my team, if they’re reading this, might laugh because I talk all the time about elevating our roles. The goal is that with every call the member thinks, “I want this person to answer my questions every time.”

 

4. What advice do you have for people just starting out in their career?

I think the biggest thing is to trust the knowledge that you already have. It might seem simple, but a lot of times we think we don't know things. We don't trust ourselves. Whether it’s book knowledge or life knowledge, we all have powerful resources to draw on. I encourage everyone to remind themselves that they are who they are because of what they’ve experienced. So, I guess to sum it up, my advice is to pull on past experiences and trust your process. It won’t steer you wrong. I promise.

 

5. What would surprise people to know about you?

Well, in my off-work hours I’m a personal trainer as a side gig. I do my absolute best to practice good health and nutrition. And not everyone may know that music is a big piece of my life. I write, sing, and produce soul and rock music. At my core, I’m a rocker. Coming from Detroit, my main musical influences are soul, gospel, and rock. I have to say that the Foo Fighters and Living Colour are a couple of my favorite bands. When I had my band, we got Muzz Skillings from Living Colour to sit in on our last set with us. It was incredible.

 And then, I just love pop culture and I collect all sorts of fun items. For me, my comic book and animation collectibles are joyful nostalgia. I like displaying them around my desk because it feels good to connect with that inner child, you know. I don’t think people should stray too far from childhood—it’s good to be lighthearted and have fun.

 

6. What is a defining moment in your life?

My defining moment was my diagnosis with AIDS in 2007. That's when I learned how to truly live and not just exist. I’m sharing this because it’s freeing to live beyond what my status is. I’m HIV+ now and it’s undetectable. I credit my healthy lifestyle now for improving my overall health. I’m more than a medical diagnosis and I want to be a beacon of hope and light to others. I can see that I’m making a difference. When I stepped outside of my limitations and gave others a visual to see—the joy I find in bodybuilding and music—people message me and thank me for being brave. I understand that me being open and authentic means a lot to others. And honestly it means a lot to me. I’ve opened my mind to say even though AIDS is in my life, it's not my only story. I’m living well to show others just how much there is to do and experience.

 

7. What book influenced you in your professional life?

My favorite book is, “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It helps me to minimize my world and focus on what's important. (Laughs) You have to understand, I’m a Capricorn and I’m very ambitious. I want to do everything, and I want it to be perfect. That’s why this book is great for me because the principles help me map out specific projects. I can still be creative and open, but I try to keep just one thing as a primary focus. It’s a daily work in progress.

 

8. What cause is closest to your heart?

The causes closest to my heart are HIV and AIDS advocacy and supporting LGBTQ+ youth. I’m not a part of any specific organizations right now, but I do help here and there. One thing I love right now is how the younger generation has started to transform the gay community. Younger people are becoming the voice. As part of the older generation, I like that I can support them and help them as I can. The younger generation is more vocal, and they show up more—whether it’s in politics or creating safe spaces. It’s amazing. They don't need approval and they don't need acceptance at this point. I love that.

My role is to help people of any age in the community know they have my protection and extra support for anything they want to do. If I could say anything to people who might be struggling with acceptance I would say: I hope you can stand firm in your light and power—revel in it—so you can be your authentic self.

 

9. What's your favorite part of helping clients and members reach their goals?

This question is essentially my job (laughs). My favorite part is making sure they have a sense of security and peace. It makes me happy when people no longer feel that something is in question. When I help them get to a place where they feel educated and that they're in control, that’s the best.

 

10. What absolutely excites you right now about HealthEquity?

So, hands down, it’s the culture. The overall culture at HealthEquity excites me so much. I love everything the company does to make sure everyone feels included. One thing that I notice here is that there’s so much interaction between executive leadership and team members. When I meet Jon Kessler at events, it makes me feel seen. It’s great.

And right now, it’s really exciting because we just launched a Pride+ Connections group for team members. I was part of the first chat, and it sparked so much joy in me. We have A LOT of personality in the group, which is perfect. The Pride+ Connections members have differences, but everyone is open and there’s a lot of positivity.

I want to credit Jon and Heather for starting it and bringing me and a few others in on an initial call. When we started sharing about possibilities, the energy was almost literally bouncing off the walls. I didn't want to get off the call because the group is beyond welcoming with incredible knowledge and ideas.

HealthEquity: Did you know Jon credits you with your willingness to reach out and support initiatives? He especially wanted to recognize you for your help in writing an internal article about the transgender day of visibility and how you’ve helped with DEI presentations.

Damien Rodgers: Ha! Oh, that’s great to know. It’s been wonderful to work with him. As it’s the first year, we’re still growing and trying to determine our path forward.

More than anything, it’s vital that we have this group at HealthEquity. There may be some team members who aren’t comfortable being out at work, but they likely want to know they have the support if they need it. Just knowing there's a group to help those team members brings me a personal level of comfort. Whether someone is out or not, hopefully they can see a purpose for Pride+ within HealthEquity. This holds true too for allies or maybe some people who don’t know a lot about the LGBTQ+ community. With our planned activities during throughout the year I hope team members have resources so they can learn on their own, especially as we're all now working remotely. More than anything, I hope everyone sees that our LGBTQ+ employees are a valued part of the company.

 

Wrap-up

HealthEquity: Damien, thank you for your time and sharing your positivity. You’re truly a joy. Best of luck to you and all those you’ve likely helped just by being authentically you. Happy Pride Month!


 

Topics: HSA, leadership

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