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Director of Total Rewards, Compensation and Benefits Department
Newell Rubbermaid Inc.
Lauren Vail did something two and a half years ago that few in benefits management would dare to do. Despite Newell Rubbermaid’s workforce of mostly blue-collar, hourly employees, Lauren Vail eliminated all existing medical insurance plan offerings and implemented a full replacement consumer-driven health care program. Since then, the program has been successful in containing costs and maintaining employee satisfaction. Before her work at Newell Rubbermaid, Ms. Vail spent eight years in human resources consulting with Towers Perrin Inc.
What would you change: "Our industry tends to try to fit people into a category very early, expecting you to specialize in life, health, pension, compensation, etc. However, as you advance, you realize that the programs must all fit together to deliver on the corporate objectives. We should find a way to rotate individuals through various specialties early in their career to support their advancement and help them become more well-rounded leaders."
Professional role model: "My grandfather. While I know that he would typically be considered a personal role model, he was incredibly adept at explaining really complicated concepts around personal investing and how insurance can be an important part of a long-term plan. He always talked in a way that was clear without being condescending as well having a gift for leaving you feeling empowered to apply the concepts you’ve just learned. I always remember that when I’m talking to someone about their personal situation and benefits needs."
Advice to young women: "Practice working outside your comfort zone quickly. As you move forward, work gets more complicated, not less. You need to be able to tackle new projects or new issues that potentially have never been addressed. However, the same skills usually apply to all projects, so jump in and take a risk."