Summer brings a new crop of leaders to meet. This month we’re introducing you to Lauren Godfrey. Lauren’s team of product owners drive the technology applications that connect our team members with clients. This includes the customer relationship management (CRM) roadmap and prioritization of work, plus identifying opportunities to increase efficiency and improve the experience for teammates through the company. With a background in finance and project management, she has good insights on how to design systems to help teams do their best work.
Read on to learn how restaurant work prepared her for fast-paced project management roles, why she loves her motorcycle family, and the importance of leaders extending a hand to mentor others looking for guidance in career planning.
HealthEquity: Lauren, thanks for sharing how you forged your own career path and transitioned from finance to enterprise-scale project work. You’re joining us from Phoenix—is that where you’re from?
Lauren Godfrey: Thanks for the invitation to tell my story. And actually I’m originally from Oregon. It’s a bit of a change from the Pacific Northwest, but I do like the open space and mountains in Arizona.
HealthEquity: It sounds like you have quite a story to tell. Let’s roll into the 10 questions.
10 questions with Lauren Godfrey
1. What was your first job and what is your role now?
My first job was in the restaurant my dad managed. It was a steak house in Eugene, Oregon and I started working there at age 15. First in catering and then as a host, server, bar back, you name it. I look back at that time and I'm fond of the experience working there. I developed a strong work ethic, and the pace of the work was perfect for me. If you think about running a restaurant, in just one day it requires a thousand tiny decisions made quickly. There isn’t time to hem and haw over your options—you have to act fast and on instinct. I liked that. And the social aspect of restaurant life was an early step in helping me come out of my shell and getting more comfortable with things like making small talk and picking up on social cues.
I came over to HealthEquity a little over two years ago to manage a Marketing operations team. The role was a huge opportunity for me to branch into a new arena and stretch myself. It ended up being a ton of fun. The role was autonomous, which is why I think it was a good fit for me. I like unscripted roles without strict guardrails and the autonomy to grow/expand. In my role now I'm Director for the Salesforce product team. It's a new role, so I was able to help define the scope and responsibilities and create the team structure. I like being able to solve problems on a large scale. And it's been thrilling to build a team from the ground up to effectively support an entire company. I have a truly phenomenal team. It’s been very satisfying to look back at how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, and we’re not done yet!
2. What is your guiding principle or North Star?
I suppose my guiding principle is to find a way to make things fun. When pressure is high, I think it’s necessary to bring in the lighthearted side. Sometimes I use humor that’s goofy or self-deprecating, but no matter what, I seek out laughter, spontaneity, and anything to make high pressure times more enjoyable. Two things that I’ve learned are dangerous for me: boredom and taking myself too seriously. I try to never pass up the opportunity for a good laugh, especially at myself.
3. HealthEquity has a strong commitment to deliver a remarkable experience. How are we continuing to improve in this area?
This is interesting, because my team supports our internal CRM processes that in turn support how we help clients, partners, and members. Everyone on the team is passionate about improving their teammates’ experience, especially because so much runs on our CRM. With recent acquisitions, it’s important to connect all our systems and make things run seamlessly. From my vantage point, I see that the progress we’re making in integrating systems is a key way we help team members go above and beyond for the people they help. We’ve made a lot of headway already, and we’re continuing to get our teams the right tools to make it easier to do what they do best—be remarkable.
4. What advice do you have for people just starting out in their career?
I encourage everyone to explore as much as you can. Don't limit yourself to just what you already know. I said yes to a lot of opportunities that truly terrified me, and I have zero regrets.
I’ve seen that other leaders who answered this question recommended getting a mentor. I think that’s another important step for everyone to take. It’s important to select a mentor who is truly invested in your growth, and someone that you can be vulnerable with. It took me awhile (networking doesn’t come naturally to me), but now I have a mentor who helps me map out the skills I need to add to achieve my objectives. Moreover, he continues to push me into unknown territory, so I never stop growing. It’s career- and life-changing.
Find a mentor who wants to hear what you have to say, has time to meet with you regularly, and has something (a skillset, quality, or success) that you admire. I’m at a stage in my career now where I have the opportunity to extend my own hand to help someone. I have a mentee and it’s been incredibly exciting and rewarding to watch her growth over time.
To take this a little further, what originally attracted me to HealthEquity—and what keeps me here—is the strength of our core leadership team. I know they truly care about investing in team members and seeing people grow. There’s a positive culture here that encourages people to take on stretch assignments. That’s especially attractive to me because I’m sometimes at the mercy of my short attention span. I need assignments that keep me interested and help me try out new ideas. I’m grateful that HealthEquity supports me and other team members who want to dive into new challenges.
5. What would surprise people to know about you?
I ride a Harley-Davidson® Low Rider Dyna motorcycle, and the motorcycle community is a big part of my life. I think people are surprised to learn that I spend a lot of my life outside of working hours surrounded by gritty, older bikers. It’s a tightknit community and I really appreciate the group of guys that I ride with. They’re extremely loyal, hardworking, and they come from different walks of life.
One thing that I have absolutely no interest in is being surrounded by people just like me. Like I said, boredom is not a safe place for me. Being surrounded by people with different points of view, different life experiences, and varying backgrounds keeps things interesting. It helps me feel grounded and connected to the real world, plus it keeps me curious and expands my empathy.
6. What is a defining moment in your life?
It’s hard to pick just one moment. All the little moments over time added up to be defining. I will say, perhaps a big moment was coming out at work. I technically came out when I was 24. My wife thinks that's hilarious because no one was shocked. Zero surprise. But I didn’t always feel comfortable being out at work.
In the early days of dating my now wife, I was going through a career change. I started at a new firm and from day one at that new company I chose to be open about who I was. It felt very natural to be open with my coworkers there, and so much easier being authentic right out of the gate. I brought my wife with me to work events and they threw us an engagement party before our wedding. There weren’t a large number of other employees who were openly gay, so at times I definitely felt a little bit like the “token queer” colleague. But I always felt both celebrated and accepted.
7. What book influenced you in your professional life?
I read a ton, both work-related and for my own enjoyment. Books are magic in that they can both drive me to focus and grow, as well as offer an escape. “No Ego” by Cy Wakeman stands out to me because I love the concept of reducing entitlement and workplace drama. The practical application is also extremely simple. But I love reading in general and am running out of room on all my bookshelves.
8. What cause is closest to your heart?
Dog rescues have my heart. Right now we have two dogs—a German Shepherd mutt named Chunk and a Lab named Phoebe. Chunk is amazing—so smart, loyal, attentive. Phoebe is just the sweetest and goofiest pup. Now that I work from home Chunk is almost always laying in the doorway of my office on guard, while Phoebe can be found in various places around the house snoring like a freight train. I’m trying to convince my wife to share my goal of owning a ranch with space to have over 40 rescue dogs running around happy and free. That’s the dream, but I’ve got a bit of work to do to get her fully on board with that plan.
9. What's your favorite part of helping clients and members reach their goals?
I find a lot of satisfaction from knowing that I’m contributing to truly impactful work. Money can be a scary and intimidating topic, especially when combined with healthcare. I think sometimes people feel they should be farther along with saving, planning for retirement, and having a plan for unexpected medical needs. And some might be embarrassed to ask for help. I like helping make people feel secure and confident when it comes to their finances. I'm not on the phones anymore, but I still get to see the results of how HealthEquity helps everyday Americans. Helping people take control over their healthcare, and be prepared for both expected and unexpected medical expenses feels amazing. I can see the ripple effect from my work and how we collectively make a difference. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) give the power back to people and it’s a beautiful thing.
10. What absolutely excites you right now about HealthEquity?
I have to say it’s the culture. It’s exciting to be around so many open people in general. The culture of support for queer folks at HealthEquity is incredible. I’m now encountering more queer and out folks in meetings than ever before. I know I feel confident bringing my whole self to work and I think others share my experience.
Then, shifting gears to a business front, we're innovating processes so we can deliver a better experience. There’s a ton of energy in the company right now and it’s not just coming from the top. It feels like we’re all looking forward to see what’s next. We’re working on ways to help clients get what they need with less paperwork and fewer touches. It’s all about making it easier to do business with us, and making it easier for our members to get what they need.
HealthEquity: Lauren, thank you for talking about your career path and so much more. You’ll have to report back if you’re able to achieve your dream of a rescue dog ranch.
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