At the UnitedHealth Group Learning Experience, Marianne Short, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, and her team counseled Fellows on the factors that make for a healthy life—and a healthy career.
Helping people live healthier lives is the mission of UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune 25 health care company based in Minnetonka, Minnesota. And as Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Marianne Short (below, right) told a room full of visiting LCLD Fellows, many of the same factors that contribute to human health also hold true for a successful legal career.
Like a good health care provider, Short went on to prescribe a three-point program for a healthy career, and urged the Fellows to consciously cultivate their own careers.
First and foremost, she said, be genuine in all things, including in your professional relationships.
Second, never get too comfortable—if you do, it means you’re not being challenged and probably aren’t living up to your potential.
And finally, “lean in and reach back,” by focusing on personal development that connects with and benefits others. There is no such thing as a perfect person, she said, and each of us is better through our connection and support of those following in our footsteps.
“There is no one road to success,” she added. “Each path meanders, and sometimes perceived missteps lead to greater opportunities. Enjoy the journey.”
Short’s warm and positive outlook was shared by a panel of top executives, including Dr. Richard Migliori, UHG’s Chief Medical Officer, and John Penshorn, a Senior Vice President with UHG, who met with the Fellows and reiterated that a commitment to good health, compassion, and emotional intelligence permeates everything the company does.
A panel of senior in-house lawyers also provided important tips for the Fellows, noting the importance of communicating with brevity, precision, and impact when working with executives. Thad Johnson, General Counsel of UnitedHealthcare, also stressed the need for practicality, noting that “technical ability gets you into the room, but you need to give actionable, practical advice to stay there.” The panel also provided tips for outside counsel in working with their in-house counterparts, emphasizing the need for outside counsel to view themselves as part of the team and as a partner.
Another panel of senior leaders described “watershed” moments, highlighting some highs – and lows – that impacted their careers. One important theme emerging from this panel was that an openness to change, and a willingness to innovate, can bring unexpected opportunities. Libby Soderberg, General Counsel of Optum Technology Group, emphasized that accepting new (and often unexpected) responsibilities can be challenging and even a little scary, but it enables you to stretch your skill set in unanticipated ways.
This theme was reiterated by Paul Engleson, a Senior Management Development Consultant with UHG who led a training session offered to senior leaders at UHG entitled “Thriving in Times of Change.” Engleson encouraged Fellows to develop a learning mindset and “change how you think about change” by seeing it not as an impediment, but as an opportunity in a rapidly evolving business environment. Engleson also urged the Fellows to be aware of the “leadership shadow”—the impact of a leader’s actions on those around them, affecting their ability to adapt to change.
As the Fellows interacted with the UHG staff, many remarked on the company’s unfailingly positive attitude, collegiality, and sense of individual purpose while bringing others along.
That spirit of collaboration was also evident the night before the Learning Experience, when LCLD Member firm Dorsey & Whitney LLP took the Fellows on a tour of the iconic Guthrie Theater, followed by a reception and banquet hosted by LCLD Member and Managing Partner Ken Cutler (left).
Lori L. Lorenzo is Director of Programs for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.