Regardless of the industry it’s in, every board faces a crisis sooner or later. Health care boards face perpetually roiled seas. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBSMN) is no exception.
“There hasn’t been a calm time since I joined the board three years ago,” says board of trustees member Pamela Moret. “As an industry, health care has pretty much had its hair on fire that whole time, between the significant changes of the Affordable Care Act and then repeated efforts to repeal it and the replacement legislation that hasn’t happened.”
That’s where a director with similar experiences in a different industry can be invaluable. As senior vice president of strategic development with Minneapolis-based financial services nonprofit Thrivent Financial, Moret helmed Brightpeak Financial, a division launched seven years ago to market affordable financial services to young Christian families.
More importantly, Moret is a 35-year veteran of financial services, which means that she’s seen big ups and downs. Debacles like the dot-com crash, the economic downturn and the Enron disaster have all become part of a day’s work. Those kinds of events help her take the volatile health care sector in stride.
“It does help my work with Blue Cross, I think, that I’ve spent virtually my entire career in a highly regulated environment,” Moret says. “About every few years, financial services goes through some kind of cathartic experience. Since I work for diversified companies, we were almost always in a state of either preparing for or living through those things.”
That experience allowed Moret to reassure fellow board members that while times might be challenging, they’ll find a way to navigate them.
“Health care continues to be a very challenging industry,” notes fellow BCBSMN board member Rita Heise, retired corporate vice president and chief information officer at Cargill. “Pam’s curiosity to learn and her deep capability to discern all angles of an opportunity have been invaluable to the board and management as we respond to challenges, seize opportunities and evolve our strategy.”
A native of Fargo, N.D., Moret spent time as an attorney at the Minneapolis firm then called Leonard, Street and Deinard before taking on a variety of positions in the legal, public affairs and products departments at American Express Financial Advisors (AEFA). Before joining Thrivent, she was CEO of IDS Life Insurance Co., a unit of AEFA.
BCBSMN recruited Moret for its board in 2014, citing her background in life and disability insurance. Also impressive was her experience in overseeing the Brightpeak startup for Thrivent as part of leading that company’s innovation function.
Now, Moret serves as chair of the BCBSMN board’s investment committee and sits on its audit and technology committee. And since Brightpeak was a digital business, she’s had a fair amount experience with major technology convergences and transformations. “I think the main thing was the business development experience I had,” Moret says. “It helped that I had some background in insurance.”
As a board member, Moret continues to be served by an intellectual curiosity that she’s able to turn into wisdom that can help BCBSMN. “Pam has a great ability to draw on her experience in a way that addresses the issues facing the board,” says retired Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, a BCBSMN trustee since 2010. “She has a lot of curiosity, which is very important for a board member. A board doesn’t need a lot of peacocks showing off what they know. Pam asks a lot of questions and then synthesizes that knowledge to deepen her expertise and help the board.”