We’re nearing the end of 2022, and we didn’t have to look far to find a teammate worthy of closing out this first year of Remarkable Leadership profiles. Jason Harburger, VP, Sales Strategy and Optimization, joined HealthEquity in November 2021 with enthusiasm for helping Americans save for and access healthcare.
HealthEquity: Thank you for agreeing to be featured as a Remarkable Leader. You just celebrated a year at HealthEquity—what has been most exciting about your time so far?
Jason Harburger: The Total Solution approach at HealthEquity with services including and beyond Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) means we can help a lot of companies and Americans in significant ways. That’s exciting for me because it is unique. Secondly, I enjoy the challenges, opportunities, and pace when companies are in a post-merger environment—specifically helping teams accomplish great things through efficient operations.
HealthEquity: Sounds great! It’s now December. Do you and your family have any fun holiday plans?
Jason Harburger: I’m looking forward to decorating the inside and outside of our house together and celebrating multiple traditions. We always have a tree, but this year we visited a tree farm. It was my first experience cutting down a tree. I enjoy the wonderful-smelling fir.
HealthEquity: Sounds like some festive fun. For now, let’s celebrate December with our traditional 10 questions.
10 questions with Jason Harburger, VP Sales Strategy and Optimization
1. What was your first job and what is your role now?
In middle school, I shined shoes and helped behind the cash register at my grandfather’s custom shoemaking business in downtown Boston. My great-grandfather started the business after immigrating to the US from Greece. I loved working there: the smell of fresh leather, watching Brogue patterns come to life, building relationships with regular customers. Unfortunately, there was no future for me at the store as my grandfather didn’t want me working with my hands. He wanted to ensure I went to college and focused on career paths not available to him as a young adult.
Today, I lead the Sales Strategy and Optimization team. We help make it easier to work with and within HealthEquity by continuously improving sales processes. This includes ensuring deal information remains accurate in the CRM (customer relationship management system), ushering high-value contracts to closure, building programs and tools to enable cross-sales, and advising on pricing tactics to achieve profitable growth.
2. What is your guiding principle or North Star?
A year ago, I made a trip to the ER for sutures. When the bill arrived, there were a few line items: the hospital charge, the insurance-negotiated rate, the amount I owe. The hospital charge was thousands. It was not lost on me that this treatment was out of reach for many of my neighbors. Surveys have found that approximately 50 percent of Americans don’t have access to $500 in emergency funds. The reason I show up eager to work every day is because I want to help people plan for their future health and financial wellness, which starts with being able to afford necessary medical care.
3. HealthEquity has a strong commitment to deliver a remarkable experience—how are we continuing to improve in this area?
I’m excited about the big steps we are continuing to take in our mobile app experience. We have removed clicks to simplify claims reimbursement and we’re piloting optical character recognition and machine learning capabilities for instant claim processing. Innovation like this both pleases our members and lowers our operating costs. In my personal experience, when I use the app for reimbursement of childcare costs, I find myself smiling because it’s blazing fast.
4. What advice do you have for people just starting out in their career?
First, practice writing and delivering presentations. A lot. Think about presentations you enjoyed (and didn’t), and why. Thoughtful communicators have enormous value in companies. I posted a “presentation writing 101” guide on LinkedIn a while back… it’s not the worst advice.
Second, don’t go it alone. Seek out a trusted teammate you can problem solve with, celebrate with, vent to. We need friends at work who lift us up, hold us accountable, and sometimes just listen. We also need to pay it forward: be that kind of teammate to others.
Third, if you own a process or project, you better be reporting on it. That reporting should be easy to understand and (most importantly) motivate action. If we’re just “managing stuff” but not educating partners on the impact we are having or the help we need, then our work and contributions may be overlooked.
5. What would surprise people to know about you?
I love to dance. I got into a style called Locking in my late 20s and kept with it. It started when I went to a dance class out of curiosity in 2009 while living in New York City. I had no idea what to expect, but I loved it! The teacher, Jazzy J (pictured below), is not only an amazing dancer but a kind and welcoming person, and the reason I kept showing up.
When we moved to Boston years later, I was invited to join a local crew (The Beantown Lockers) and performed with them for four years. Being a thankful guest in the US Northeast hip hop community has been a wonderful experience and education. I stepped back from the crew in the last year to spend more time with my family, but… on weekends in the summer, you can often find me and my two sons bopping around at block parties across Boston.
Check out this photo of me dancing with friends in The Beantown Lockers at the Boys and Girls Club in Lowell, Massachusetts.
And here I am getting funky with Jazzy J of The Electric Boogaloos.
6. What is a defining moment in your life?
When I became a parent: the most beautiful, exciting, rewarding, challenging, and important job I have. Every day, I am thankful for my boys and for my amazing, patient, intelligent wife, Amy.
7. What book influenced you in your professional life?
“The Phoenix Project” by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, and George Spafford—a story about a technology manager, Bill, who is rapidly promoted to report to the CEO and lead an initiative that is behind schedule and over budget. The book walks you through Bill’s reliance on Kanban to manage down work in progress, as well as his efforts to build trust between Technology, Marketing, and Frontline teams. I remember thinking, “This guy wants to win, is building relationships, and doesn’t give up.”
8. What cause is closest to your heart?
I believe housing is a human right. Over the last century, many land-use laws, lending practices, and public transit investments in our country have had discriminatory motivations. I’m interested in steps we can take to repair that. To that end, I enjoy speaking with neighbors about how policy reform, elections, and nonprofit organizations can help connect lower-income families to housing and services. I presently serve on the board for a nonprofit focused on this work, Citizens for Affordable Housing in Newton Development Organization (CAN-DO).
9. What’s your favorite part of helping clients and members reach their goals?
At HealthEquity, we serve clients that employ 1 in 7 Americans. When a friend or relative says, “Oh! I have HeathEquity, it’s great, thank you!” it reminds me of the importance of our work. My response is always “Thanks! What can we do to better serve you?”
10. What absolutely excites you right now about HealthEquity?
I have only been here a year, and to be honest, it’s kind of a big deal personally that you asked to interview me! But that is a testament to the kind of place we are: that one year in, I feel like I am adding value, doing my part to sustain our Purple culture, and am set up for success thanks to the village that HealthEquity offers. I am excited to leverage the investment HealthEquity has made in me, and am laser-focused on further optimizing our sales operations. I want to shave days off of internal processes and automate away thousands of internal tickets—and I see a path to do it. Oh, and I love the team around me—my department, peers, and supervisor: it is a delight to log on each day and rub virtual elbows with them.
Lastly, in my department, we laterally moved and/or promoted roughly a third of the team in the first half of this fiscal year. I’m proud to be a part of this investment and recognition of our teammates and look forward to more of it in the future.
HealthEquity: Great answers! Keep on dancing, Jason.
HealthEquity does not provide legal, tax or financial advice. Always consult a professional when making life-changing decisions.
How did you like this article?
Subscribe to Remark
Get new posts delivered to your inbox.
Thank you for subscribing!
How did you like this article?