Effective leadership comes in many styles. The best leaders may have different backgrounds, personalities, or worldviews, but they share an ability to help others become the best versions of themselves.
That starts with a desire to lead authentically, says Anne Larsen, VP, Relationship Management.
Anne, who came to HealthEquity via the Further Acquisition in November 2021, believes that psychology, and the desire to understand what motivates behavior, has been a critical part of her role in Relationship Management and Leadership. These lessons are particularly poignant as we celebrate Women’s History Month and the many remarkable women leaders at HealthEquity.
We’re grateful Anne took a break from the astonishing snowfall in her home state of Minnesota to share her thoughts with us.
HealthEquity: We’re so excited to speak with you, Anne. What are some of the ways you think about women in leadership?
Anne Larsen: I find it really interesting to think about how the dynamics of women in leadership have changed over the years. Historically, women leaders—particularly in male-dominated industries—felt they needed to lead like their male counterparts in order to be respected. Now, I feel like there are many successful women leaning into the differences they may have from their male peers, and leveraging those different skills to be effective leaders.
I’m also excited about the evolution of leadership in general, particularly a movement towards authentic leadership. Regardless of leadership gender, there is a desire to see leaders be multi-dimensional, vulnerable, authentic people—not just leaders. This has maybe been emphasized in our new remote workplace, where people are seeing leaders in their own homes, perhaps dressed more casually, with the occasional kid or pet crashing a video call. I’m so glad we’re evolving in this direction.
HealthEquity: What’s been a particularly important aspect of authentic leadership in your career?
Anne Larsen: For myself and as a leader, I believe that getting comfortable with giving and receiving feedback is really important, and it takes some practice to get used to it! I’ve probably learned a lot more from getting constructive feedback when things didn’t go my way than when they did. I do my best to incorporate continuous feedback with my team, and it requires a lot of trust and reinforcement that feedback is not meant to be negative—it’s to help us grow.
HealthEquity: Those are important points. Now, let’s visit our 10 questions.
10 questions with Anne Larsen, VP, Relationship Management
1. What was your first job and what is your role now?
My first job was at our local Dairy Queen at age 15. I learned a lot about how to treat customers, as well as how much more enjoyable work was if you got along with your teammates (which I am still a firm believer in)!
I also realized, early on at DQ, the importance of an experience. Even though it might have been the 25th Blizzard I was making for the day, for the kid on the other side of the window, it was a treat and something they were excited about! I didn’t want to take that away from them just because I was tired and my feet were sticking to the floor. Today, my role is VP of Relationship Management.
2. What is your guiding principle or North Star?
Years ago, as an account manager with a health plan, it occurred to me that every sales or account manager that understood how medical benefits and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) worked, was on an HSA-compatible plan with a health savings account. I realized that if people truly understood the power of an HSA (as we did), everyone would want to be on one.
3. HealthEquity has a strong commitment to deliver a remarkable experience—how are we continuing to improve in this area?
Through products, technology, and investment in people, HealthEquity is continuously looking for ways to improve the experience. Although there is a strong culture of celebrating accomplishments at HealthEquity, there is also a relentless pursuit of getting stronger, faster, and better at serving our employers and our members.
4. What advice do you have for people just starting out in their career?
Be hungry. Have grit. Don’t be afraid of failure, and be willing to be the hardest working person in your company. You will not always succeed, and that’s okay! As long as you learn something from the experience, you’ve won.
5. What would surprise people to know about you?
I love pickleball! I was an average tennis player in high school (maybe below average if I’m being honest with myself), and not overly athletic by any means. But I picked up pickleball over COVID out of sheer boredom, and now it’s a big part of my life.
6. What is a defining moment in your life?
Probably becoming a parent. I have 3 kids and I started pretty young. I made a decision very early on that I wanted to focus on a career, and I was willing to commit myself to the endless juggling of being a mom working outside of the home. I was extremely fortunate to have a lot of support from my parents, which is a luxury that I recognize many people don’t have. I carried a lot of guilt over the years for not being the perfect mom, but I wouldn’t change a single thing.
7. What book influenced you in your professional life?
This is probably an unconventional answer, but a high school psychology textbook had a lot of influence on my professional and personal life. It piqued my interest in human behavior enough that I ended up getting a psychology degree in college. Over the years, people have asked me if I had any regrets about not pursuing a career using my degree, and I’ve always said that between my career and parenting, I use my degree on a daily basis! Understanding what might cause someone to act in a certain way empowers you to be more empathetic, which I think can be very powerful in your interactions and your relationships.
8. What cause is closest to your heart?
Education and access to education. My parents were both teachers and I’m a firm believer that education provides you options in your life. I’m excited to be participating in a career mentorship program at the high school where my parents taught, and where my kids and I all attended. I want to help kids understand that there are a lot of different careers available to them and they shouldn’t feel like there is a “one size fits all” approach to having a successful and fulfilling career.
9. What’s your favorite part of helping clients and members reach their goals?
I always try to recall times when I have been grateful for a really solid representative that helped me navigate a company or service that I was unfamiliar with, and who truly went above and beyond. It makes me want to share that positive experience with everyone that I know, and to recommend that company to anyone who asks. I’m the first person to leave a Google review when I’ve had a great experience with a company! That’s how I want people to feel after they interact with anyone from the team: so pleasantly surprised by how well they were treated and how knowledgeable that team member was, that they can’t help but to sing our praises to others. I want the bar to be set high—really high!
10. What absolutely excites you right now about HealthEquity?
HealthEquity is committed to being head-and-shoulders above the rest and I’m competitive, so that excites me! There is an absolute commitment and intense focus on helping Americans make their healthcare dollars go further. I have all the confidence in the world that HealthEquity will continue to not only help employers provide a better benefits experience for their employees, but also to continue to use technology and innovation to help members be better consumers and save more for their healthcare needs. How could you not be excited about that?
HealthEquity does not provide legal, tax or financial advice. Always consult a professional when making life-changing decisions.
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