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Principal and National Practice Leader, Health Exchange Solutions
Buck Consultants L.L.C.
For Sherri Bockhorst, there is no greater satisfaction than helping employers find new solutions to problems. “That is what I love about the job I have now,” she said. Indeed, Ms. Bockhorst has spent much of the last year developing a new approach — Buck Consultants' RightOpt private health insurance exchange, where more than 400,000 employees and dependents have chosen coverage for next year from participating insurers. For much of her professional life, which includes 15 years working for large employee benefit consulting firms, Ms. Bockhorst has focused on driving changes in the health care delivery system that can help employers and employees. Ms. Bockhorst began her career as an actuary in product development for small health group plans and later joined a professional services firm to focus on data analytics.
What's your advice for women entering this field.
Ask a lot of questions, because the more you understand, the more you can apply your knowledge to a situation and reach a good outcome.
What attracted you to this industry?
When I had the opportunity to go into consulting, there was this great balance between leveraging my math skills and the enjoyment I get out of that — as crazy as it sounds — with the ability to apply it in an external way to help people who might not have those strengths on the financial skills side to drive outcomes that benefit organizations and their employees.
What aspects of your job give you the greatest sense of accomplishment?
It is that ability to drive change. I have a really strong belief that employers need to stay in the game and provide benefits. Employers, on a combined basis, are the ones that drive a lot of innovation in the health care delivery system. These innovations help people. It is not just about cost-shifting. It is how do we improve productivity and help the health and well-being of employees and their families. And that is what I love about what I am doing now with the private insurance exchange. It is why I stayed in the system as long as I have.
What's the most important lesson you've learned in your career?
Don't assume anything. Ask to ensure that you have a good understanding of what is going on culturally and environmentally.
Outside family, what woman has been your role model?
When I was in college, I was struggling with the decisions of what to major in and what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. At the time, I was hired to be an intern at General American Life Insurance Co. by Karen King. Karen was probably one of the most patient individuals I ever have had the opportunity to work with. She took the time to mentor me. She was the one who offered me the opportunity to stay on as a part-time intern at General American if I would switch to an actuarial science degree. Karen is the one who really got me into this industry and supported me through the exam process and in defining my career.
What's at the top of your bucket list and why?
I don't even have a bucket list. I was married at 37 and now have a 2-year-old. It is those small adventures of our day-to-day life that I love so much.
What's your secret vice?
Laffy Taffy candy with all those jokes. I love sweet and sour chewy candy. And now I can share the jokes with my 2-year-old, and we get a big kick out of that together.
Business Insurance's annual Women to Watch feature recognizes women who are doing outstanding work in commercial insurance, risk and benefits management, and related fields, including consulting and law.