Female Disruptors: Sally Poblete CEO of Wellthie is shaking up how we shop for insurance

The most important criteria you should consider when making career moves is the opportunity to work with people who will give you room to grow.

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Find the best team to work with. The most important criteria you should consider when making career moves is the opportunity to work with people who will give you room to grow.

I had the pleasure to interview Sally Poblete. Sally Poblete has been a leader and innovator in the health insurance industry for over 20 years. As a broker and former industry executive herself, she founded Wellthie out of a deep passion for making health insurance more simple and approachable for consumers and small businesses. She had a successful career leading product development at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies. Sally received her B.S. in Management magna cum laude from New York University and received her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in Health Care Management. Since founding the company, Wellthie has received numerous recognitions as an innovator in the healthcare industry, including “Forbes 10 Healthcare Tech Disruptors to Watch,” “30 Health Tech Startups with the Potential to Change the World,” and “Top 40 Health Care Transformers.” Most recently, Sally was recognized as one of New York Business Journal’s Women of Influence. Sally has presented at numerous conferences nationwide, including InsureTech Connect, the AHIP Institute & Expo, and the HITLab Innovator’s Summit. She is a frequent media contributor and has been featured in such notable publications as Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed.

Thank you so much for joining us! What is your “backstory”?

Sally: I was born and raised in the Philippines and was fortunate to be surrounded by strong female role models growing up. I immigrated to the United States to go to college and then graduate school. I have worked in the health care and health insurance industries for over 20 years now. With a builder’s DNA, I have developed new products and solutions at both start-ups and large corporate environments. Being an entrepreneur, leader, and a mom of two daughters keeps me humble — I’m definitely learning and growing every day.

Why did you found your company?

Sally: I founded Wellthie out of a deep passion for making health insurance more simple and approachable for consumers and small businesses. Before starting Wellthie, I spent close to a decade as an executive at Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, where I led product development and launched large enterprise initiatives across the country. Through that experience, I saw an opportunity to utilize technology to create a simple and modern health insurance shopping experience, which is what we aim to do at Wellthie. Our platform ultimately helps small businesses looking for health insurance. As a start-up ourselves, we have a lot of empathy and admiration for all the entrepreneurs out there who are striving hard every day to build a business and also take care of their teams.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Sally: It’s no secret that shopping for insurance can be extremely difficult and frustrating. On top of that, much of the existing technology used is cumbersome and outdated. At Wellthie, we’ve built a streamlined platform focused on small business segment that makes it easy and transparent to browse and compare small group plans side-by-side. This is particularly important because small businesses are the fastest growing sector of our economy, yet they are also very underserved in terms of having easy ways to purchase benefits for their employees. In an old-school and opaque industry like insurance, simplicity is disruptive.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

Sally: I’ve been fortunate to get mentorship and advice from so many generous people throughout my career. What my mentors all have in common is that they were former managers who gave me a project, role, or job that was a stretch for me. They encouraged me to take on something that was beyond what I perceived I could do at the time. In the process, I had a lot of leeway to experiment, learn, and make mistakes, which has been an invaluable lesson in my career.

How are you going to shake things up next?

Sally: You’ll have to stay tuned… we have some exciting things in the works.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Sally: Some of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten are to first: find the best team to work with. The most important criteria you should consider when making career moves is the opportunity to work with people who will give you room to grow. Second: perfect is the enemy of good. It is very easy to become paralyzed going after perfection, which is an impossible standard. Finally: the importance of resilience. Everyone is going to get roughed up, but the most important thing is how quickly you’re going to get back on the saddle. I live this every day, and I’ve learned that the “bigger” your job is, the rougher it’s going to get. You have to be ready to fall more often and from higher places, but to get back up and keep going.

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.

Sally: Definitely Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. Sheryl’s personal experience as a leader/executive, wife, and mom who suddenly lost her husband had a profound impact on me. I can’t even begin to imagine that happening, and yet she and her family emerged in the face of adversity, all the while continuing to be an inspiration to others professionally. Combined with Adam’s research, they’re helping us learn how to view our setbacks, big and small, as opportunities for growth.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

Sally: There are so many… but someone who comes to mind is Indra Nooyi. She is an immigrant woman and mother who served as a Fortune 45 CEO — that is just amazing! I would love to talk to her about how her personal journey and background has enabled her to be a better leader for a global company like Pepsi.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Sally: I’m active on LinkedIn, and I’d love to hear from you!

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