How have female CEO’s risen to the top? What was their journey? Let’s explore…

I’m empowered. I have the skills. I’m ready to take on the world. Now, if I could just figure out tangible steps to get there. This series has two purposes: to celebrate women’s accomplishments in business, and to research their path to success.

Notable things you should know about Gail Boudreaux:
1) Has led several billion dollar businesses
2) Current CEO of Anthem
3) Previously led the largest business division of UnitedHealth Group, where she had responsibility for approximately $120 Billion in revenue and managed more than 60,000 employees serving 45 million consumers.
4) During Boudreaux’s tenure, United Healthcare was the fastest growing health benefits company in the industry, growing organically by more than eight million members in just six years.

5) During those six years she focused on strategic growth, corporate culture, and operational effectiveness
6) At Anthem, Boudreaux is focused on modernizing healthcare digital technology by investing in artificial intelligence. She also has plans to expand in the Medicare Advantage sector providing coverage for retirees.

Gail Boudreaux grew up in Massachusetts under her mother, a homemaker, and father a machinist. She lived a normal suburban life playing sports and games around the neighborhood.

Gail attended Dartmouth College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology. She was well known for her performance in athletics at Dartmouth. She was part of the team that established women’s basketball at the college. She was used to being a minority as a female – at Dartmouth there were four boys to every girl when she went to school.

Sports played a huge role in shaping who Gail Boudreaux was in the boardroom. From a competitive spirit, to team work, to self-esteem sports helped Gail have a presence in business.

During her senior year at Dartmouth she landed an internship at Aetna and that began her journey in healthcare. But she didn’t fully dive in until after she played a year of professional basketball overseas!

When she came back, Boudreaux was one of five people accepted into Aetna’s management training program. Over the course of 20 years, Boudreaux rose through the ranks eventually making her way to Senior Vice President of group insurance.

She left Aetna in 2002 to become President of BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois. After 4 years there she left to become EVP of external operations at Healthcare Services Corporation in 2006 before joining UnitedHealthcare in 2008 as it’s EVP.

She accomplished huge wins at UnitedHealthcare, particularly by consolidating her 6 national markets into 4 and focused the company on local markets so that she could react more efficiently to the challenging post-recession market. This was enough to allow her to be promoted to Chief Executive Officer in 2011.

Gail was expected to become CEO of the entire United Healthcare Group, but in a turn of events, the company decided to create a Chief Executive Office composed of four leaders and Boudreaux was not one of them.

It was then in 2015 that Boudreaux decided to leave UnitedHealthcare to found her own healthcare strategy and business advisory firm. Additionally she joined a few boards such as Xcel Energy, Zimmer Biomet Holdings, and Novavax.

2 short years later she received the call to take on the role of CEO at Anthem in November of 2017.

My takeaways from Gail Boudreaux’s story 1) Sports had a big impact on her confidence and self-esteem helping her to not shy away in her executive roles. 2) She put in 20 years at one company allowing her to rise up through the ranks and gain notoriety. 3) When she didn’t get the position of CEO for all of UnitedHealthcare Group, she took her pride and left. While she was out of the big billion-dollar business, she made sure to join several boards and keep herself active at an executive level. I suspect this probably helped maintain connections and status to be called upon as CEO of Anthem.

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