This month we’re pleased to highlight Tia Padia, SVP Marketing. Tia joined HealthEquity in August of 2021 to lead efforts to increase public awareness, adoption, and utilization of HSAs and other consumer driven benefits. With over 20 years of diverse financial services experience, she is known for partnering with employers to create compelling employee education and engagement programs.
Every team member at HealthEquity brings their own unique style and personal expression to their role. Tia is no exception—brimming with energy, she draws on some personal struggles to fuel her teams’ work to make a difference.
Read on to learn how Tia got her start, get her best advice for stoking curiosity to build a successful career, and be inspired by her willingness to talk openly about mental health.
HealthEquity: Tia, thank you for making time to share more about your background and answer these questions. I understand you’re joining us from your home office in Boston?
Tia Padia: Thanks for the invitation and, yes, I live in Boston with my family. I do like it here, but I’m originally from Texas and enjoy it whenever I can travel south to hear the familiar accents I grew up with. Happily, HealthEquity has a lot of teammates in the Dallas-Fort Worth area so I can hear the Texas twang in meetings.
HealthEquity: That’s wonderful! Speaking of your background, that’s a good segue into the 10 questions.
10 questions with Tia Padia
1. What was your first job and what is your role now?
It’s hard to know where to start because as a teenager I had a lot of odd jobs—from housecleaning with my mother to babysitting. I guess my first job with a timecard was as a ride operator at local amusement park, Funland. Shockingly, I only earned $2 an hour. But working that gig for a few months helped me get some spending money.
Decades later, I’m now SVP of Marketing. My team is responsible for new account growth, retention, and member engagement. I was drawn to HealthEquity because I connect with the vision of radically transforming healthcare benefits by putting individuals in the driver’s seat of their finances.
2. What is your guiding principle or North Star?
I’ve had the opportunity to learn from many great leaders in my career. Truthfully, I believe we can all learn from our best—and our worst—leaders. One solidly good principle that always stuck with me is people matter. Following in the footsteps of mentors I learned from, I put people at the top of my list. Recognizing that human beings are on the receiving end of any effort has never steered me wrong.
HealthEquity really meshes well with this value. Helping people is the core of every decision here and I’ve seen many examples of our leadership team prioritizing people over profits. The Purple culture of treating teammates, clients, partners, and members with kindness, respect, and empathy is woven through everything we do.
3. HealthEquity has a strong commitment to deliver a remarkable experience. How are we continuing to improve in this area?
Truly, the reason why I came to HealthEquity is because I’m passionate about helping people take full advantage of their benefit plans. In the industry we call it engagement and utilization. Around our company we have marshalled a ton of resources to help employees engage with their benefits plans. And we’re getting creative on ways to help clients best leverage their benefits packages to recruit and retain talent.
HealthEquity is known for its exceptional service, but we’ve seen consumer and market demands evolve significantly over the past several years. Last year saw unprecedented demand for our services. To keep pace with growth and keep improving, we’re investing in technology, processes and people. We added a new Chief Technology Office (CTO), plus a technology-focused board member to propel our platforms forward. But technology alone isn’t enough.
We’ve seen that the workforce is at a crossroads. Workers across the board are stressed—from balancing family demands while working from home to navigating returning to the office, shrinking budgets, racial injustice, and global instability. As a wellbeing provider, HealthEquity can help with all of those areas through plan design, lifestyle benefits and return to office support. It’s exciting to work for a company making a real impact in the lives of people we serve.
4. What advice do you have for people just starting out in their career?
For anyone new to the workforce, I recommend a few things. Develop a habit of continuous learning, know how to deal with and manage fear of rejection, and find ways to be ok with plans that don’t initially work out.
When you’re just starting out, the workplace can feel intimidating. But, put yourself out there. It’s ok to try and fail. You’ll likely be more successful when you find work that you’re genuinely interested in and that comes naturally to you. Find that spark and your natural excitement will cascade into successes you can build on. Focusing and building on your natural strengths with a natural curiosity will take you places you’ve never imagined.
5. What would surprise people to know about you?
These days I think it’s still relatively common to hear about people who are the first in their family to graduate from college. But in my case, I was the first in my family to graduate from high school. My mom was very young when she had me and wasn’t able to get her high school diploma.
I have so much respect for my mom—she truly did the best she could. She was a homemaker and my dad was a factory worker. Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of resources, but my parents both believed in hard work and education, so I prioritized my studies. I’m grateful for their encouragement to keep learning. I like telling this story because my childhood experiences drive me to make a difference for people coming from backgrounds like mine.
6. What is a defining moment in your life?
There are so many big moments in any life, right? But, because May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, I think it’s fitting to talk about my experience with depression, which is something so many people around the world encounter. In fact, about 50 percent of Americans will have a mental health diagnosis in their lifetime.
I’ve struggled with episodic depression throughout my life—the first time being after my brother’s death in 2008. I later experienced post-partum depression (PPD) after the birth of my second child. Because I had previously experienced depression and the benefits of getting help early, I was able to recognize the symptoms and get help quickly. Despite affecting about 1 in 8 women, PPD is perhaps still a taboo topic and many women struggle to recognize the symptoms and get help.
I’m sharing this personal story because while experiences differ, I think it’s important to talk about it. Mental health can seem off limits, but it really shouldn’t be. If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to take better care of ourselves—and each other. For me, that means being open with my personal struggles and sharing resources in both my personal life and work. For the workplace, I encourage leaders to create environments where people feel safe to discuss real issues—burnout, anxiety, depression—and to take time off as needed.
7. What book influenced you in your professional life?
Ah–I read so much, it’s hard to pick just one book! I read constantly on everything from leadership to technology innovation. For fiction, I tend to gravitate toward historical fiction. I like reading about new cultures, concepts, and ways of thinking about things. I’ve also been reading quite a few non-fiction books in the diversity, equality, and inclusion category. Recently I read and enjoyed “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo and “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett.
8. What cause is closest to your heart?
I’m passionate about helping traditionally underserved populations achieve greater financial freedom. I saw my family struggle financially my entire life, and I see so many opportunities to help families like mine succeed. That’s what I love about working for HealthEquity. We can make a meaningful impact for all workers—and that’s especially important now. The pandemic brought so many healthcare and personal finance issues to light, especially for women and people of color. The desire to make a difference and lead positive change is what brought me to HealthEquity.
9. What's your favorite part of helping clients and members reach their goals?
My absolute favorite part is the difference that our people at HealthEquity make in the lives of individuals. It’s incredible. I love hearing stories about how we help people create health savings accounts so they can get the care they need for their family in a way that reduces stress.
10. What absolutely excites you right now about HealthEquity?
There’s so much to be excited about. We're making key investments in member engagement and open enrollment with programs like Engage360—all the resources in one spot to simplify open enrollment for our clients and partners.
HealthEquity is also investing in consultant teams to foster major breakthroughs with member engagement. With some of the tools we’re working on we have an opportunity to engage members at the right time and provide meaningful help. We're all in to drive better outcomes for our members and make sure all our systems work together in a coordinated fashion. Our future success depends on executing with excellence, plus anticipating and serving individual consumer needs. We’re getting the right teams in place to make that happen and that energizes me.
HealthEquity: Tia, your enthusiasm for the work you do comes through loud and clear. Thank you for your candor on mental health in the workplace and how leaders can better support team members.