Remarkable Leadership: 10 questions with Brad Bennion, Interim COO Skip to content

Remarkable Leadership: 10 questions with Brad Bennion, Interim COO

5 min read

Read about Brad Bennion, Interim COO

Every organization needs team players. The people who always look for ways to help out and pitch in. Teammates who never back down when faced with a challenge and go wherever they are needed. That’s Brad Bennion. With almost 17 years of service to HealthEquity, Brad is the quintessential utility player. Filling a variety of roles over the years—product, implementation, partner management—Brad is familiar with the inner workings of the company and committed to its success.

Currently serving as Interim Chief Operating Officer (COO), Brad leads strategic planning processes, identifies new markets, and so much more. Get to know what drives his success, why he thinks every teammate should chart their career path, and why he likes his vacation time to be adrenaline-filled.

HealthEquity: Brad, you’re talking to us from your home in Utah today, right?

Brad Bennion: Yep! I travel fairly often, but today I’m in my home state. I was born and raised in Utah. I love to travel, but this will always be home.

HealthEquity: It’s easy to imagine that your travels connect you to all the initiatives you’re involved with—from meeting with sales teams to visiting teammates in offices all over the country.

Brad Bennion: That’s true. I like being at the center of our operations. And spending time with our teammates, clients, and partners is always exciting. Seriously, especially after having to disconnect during the pandemic, I never take for granted that we can meet in person again and solve problems together.

HealthEquity: What a good point! Well, given that you’re involved in so many different projects, we had better get started with the questions.

10 questions with Brad Bennion, Interim COO

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

My first job was at Western Gardens, which is a local landscaping and garden center. I caught goldfish and put them in bags, helped people buy flowers and shrubs, loaded trees into vehicles, and watered plants. I loved it. Working like that—going where I was needed and watering plants—gave me a lot of time to think.

I went on to study finance at BYU and before graduation gained invaluable experience at a university venture fund. Ingenix (now part of Optum) recruited me and I was able to land my first professional job doing mergers and acquisitions (M&A) preliminary research there. Working at that firm was my first introduction to HSAs and lead me—eventually—to HealthEquity.

I joined HealthEquity nearly 17 years ago to lead our product teams. Now, my role is Interim COO. I’m responsible for the revenue delivery side of the business. I jointly own the P&L with Eli Rosner and support our incredible leaders across the organization. Another important part of my job now is to help leaders understand how their separate components come together to drive toward our broader mission and vision.

2. What is your guiding principle or North Star?

Do the right thing. It’s one of our core values at HealthEquity, and it’s a principle that has served me well throughout my career. For example, throughout my career here I’ve built lots of different functions within the organization. To do that I had to ensure the objectives matched with and adapted to our culture. That meant that often—when faced with choices between core business objectives or our people—I did the right thing by our people. That’s made all the difference.

When we do the right thing by treating our members, clients, partners, and teammates with respect, we build trust. I think some of my strengths are consistency and authenticity. Building trust over the years, making sure we put clients first, has helped keep relationships strong when we encountered any bumps or problems. Doing the right thing helps to engender more trust.

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

I want to take this question in a different direction and talk about how we’re putting a lot of resources toward talent development. I’m committed to helping people find their voice. HealthEquity has always had a tremendously talented team, it has been and will continue to be the key to our success.

Every day I see teammates stepping up and making incredible contributions to HealthEquity. It is the efforts of our wonderful teammates, their commitment to Purple Service, that is allowing HealthEquity to continually improve our clients’ and members’ experiences. So, part of my role is to make sure we’re giving our people the resources and support they need to keep making a difference.

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

My advice is to be clear on your ultimate goal. Do you want to be a people manager? An individual contributor? A product owner? Know yourself and your strengths so you can set your dream role. Then, when you know what you want to accomplish, it’s important to figure out what steps you need to take to get there. Break it down into skills you need to acquire, and it won’t seem so intimidating or out of reach.

I highly encourage everyone to know your options and that you can play an active role in shaping your career path. Think about it like white water rafting. You’re in your raft with your oar. When you set off, it’s certainly an option to let the river take you where it wants you to go. You’ll probably reach the take-out point, but you could arrive at your destination a little banged up. That’s not so much fun. But, if you get in your raft and steer your course, scout out the bends ahead, you’ll likely enjoy the journey more. I guess that’s my best analogy for why it’s important to take an active role in planning your career. Knowing you’re in control of your future can make a dramatic difference with your happiness and self-worth.

5. What would surprise people to know about you?

Just like my rafting example above, I’m an adventure seeker. I love white water rafting and taking risks. I’ve rafted on the Snake River and there’s a section called Lunch Counter. It’s exciting. I like to hit the rapids at full speed. When I’m on the river I get out of my comfort zone and test my limits. Attacking the rapids at just the speed I want and getting soaked is a blast.

This is a picture of one of my rafting trips. I’m in there underneath the helmet and surrounded by the rapids.

Brad Bennion Rafting

I grew up rock climbing, water skiing, and mountain biking. I guess there’s not a lot about the outdoors that I don’t like to do. Zip lining, cliff jumping, skiing, even bungee jumping. I love it all. I’m proud to be a thrill seeker.

Brad Bennion Ziplining

6. What is a defining moment in your life?

The most important people in my life are my wife and children. Looking back, a key moment was in the third grade when I first asked my wife out. (Laughs) I had to ask her out many times along the way, but that’s when it all started. As much as I love our company and my career, I know work will come and go but family is forever. Here’s a picture of our family on one of our adventures. We love to travel. But wherever we go we have each other.

Brad Bennion Family

7. What book influenced you in your professional life?

Like other leaders at HealthEquity, I’m a Jim Collins fan. “Great by choice” is one of my favorite books because it helped me decide the type of leader I want to be. In the book he outlines that great leaders have three characteristics: Fanatic discipline, empirical creativity, and productive paranoia. I’m far from being great at those things but I’m striving to get there.

8. What cause is closest to your heart?

Oh, so this one gets me emotional. I’m passionate about doing what I can to support and advocate for disabled people and especially those with Down’s Syndrome. I’m one of 10 kids in my family, and one of my older brothers, Rusty, had Down’s Syndrome. Man, he made a wonderful impact on our family and on me. I learned so much from him and from serving him. Rusty lived to age 48. I miss him every day. It feels good to help make a difference in a community of people that continually persevere, overcome obstacles, and thrive.

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

Watching others succeed is inspiring. I’ve had the pleasure of working with our largest clients and health plans. Supporting their success gave me so much in return. And an unanticipated aspect of my work are the lifelong friendships I made by serving our clients. Digging in to solve problems can be challenging but so rewarding. Coming out the other side with a good outcome builds a team and strong connections. I even loved the time when I worked the phones and took member calls at our service center. Those hours taking calls weren’t easy (thank you service teams) but finding resolutions for people and making a difference felt great.

10. What absolutely excites you right now about HealthEquity?

Wow, there’s so much. The most exciting initiative right now is our maniacal focus on delivering remarkable service. To have that as a focus is exciting and very motivating. I know others have talked about Commit to Purple, and that’s our driving focus on service. But really, there’s a ton to get excited about, including our innovation efforts.

HealthEquity does not provide legal, tax or financial advice. Always consult a professional when making life-changing decisions.

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