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Mercer Health & Benefits L.L.C.
Linda Havlin manages Mercer Health & Benefits L.L.C.’s health care specialty practices, its actuarial and financial group, its regulatory resources group and research efforts. Before joining Mercer 10 years ago, Ms. Havlin worked for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Assn. and the Harvard Community Health Plan. She is a frequent author and speaker on health care strategy. Ms. Havlin said a childhood bout of polio led her to choose health care as a career, when her father “exerted his sheer Irish will” to get his uninsured daughter admitted to a hospital.
Early aspirations: "I wanted to be a psychologist. Actually, a lot of consulting really is trying to understand the motivations and behavior patterns of people you work with and clients, and so it’s had some applicability. I don’t call myself a clinician, but it has been incredibly helpful in understanding how corporations make decisions. In our business, you ask clients very often to take a risk. You have to understand how to get them there…what’s the logic, what’s the motivation, how do you make it safe, how do you make it exciting."
Professional role model: "The former president of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Walter McNerney. He was a mentor because he didn’t think of it as a job. He was a really conscientious manager. Two things he taught me that I’ve come to appreciate as strengths: To compartmentalize and focus energy on most pressing issue at moment. Second thing he taught me: Put problems in historical contextual framework—take analytic skills and apply them in a business context. That continual reinforcement of learning how to put a problem in context and understand various points of view to help figure out how to get things solved was an exceptional learning experience."
Best professional advice: "The best advice is to think about where your business is headed—always consider strengths and weaknesses. Out of weaknesses comes the next opportunity."