Rebecca Engelman is market president, for Select Health of South Carolina, which offers First Choice, the state’s oldest and largest Medicaid health plan.
Previously, she was market president of AmeriHealth Caritas Louisiana, a Medicaid managed care plan serving all of Louisiana.
She has about two decades of executive-level leadership in the Medicaid managed care field. Engelman was part of the team that launched Select Health, and she began as senior director of medical services. She was senior director of quality improvement before becoming vice president of operations.
A nurse by training, Engelman began her career at three hospitals in Florida, working in both surgical units and emergency rooms. She has a master’s degree in nursing administration from the Medical University of South Carolina.
Q: Who is your favorite business leader and why?
A: Mike Jernigan, founder of Select Health of South Carolina and regional president of AmeriHealth Caritas – Select Health’s parent company. Mike has been a visionary leader in Medicaid managed care for more than 20 years. He was at the forefront of the transformative shift to a managed care marketplace for Medicaid recipients when he founded Select Health in 1995 and launched First Choice, the first Medicaid health plan in South Carolina. He is by far the most civic-minded and generous person I’ve ever known. Developing relationships with organizations committed to improving the lives of children has always been a priority for him.
Q: Who is your favorite leader of any kind and why?
A: My parents, Gene and Delilah Schrader. Their philosophy of purposeful living with a family-first priority instilled in me a strong set of core values and work ethic.
Q: What is the best leadership advice you’ve received?
A: Don’t compare yourself to another great leader, because every leader is unique. Focus instead on your strengths and appreciate what makes you unique.
Q: What is the best leadership advice you could give?
A: Be fully present in your daily interactions with others. It is one of the best ways you can show how much you care and truly value someone and their contributions. It’s also crucial to know how people actually perceive you, so you can manage more effectively and be true to your personal brand.
Q: What is the best book on business or leadership that you’ve read and why?
Whatever book our leadership team is reading as a group because we always relate it to our current challenges. We’re currently reading Susan Scott’s “Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work & in Life One Conversation at a Time” and I love it.
Q: What other business publications do you regularly read?
A: I rely on Modern Healthcare and Health Management Associates’ Medicaid and Medicare news feed/e-newsletter for industry purposes, and The Post and Courier for statewide news.
Q: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader at your business?
A: Anything that touches the lives of our First Choice plan members, providers or associates and their families.
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing business leaders today?
A: Time management and achieving work-life balance. It’s crucial to make sure that everyone in your organization maintains a good work-life balance so they get what they need to stay satisfied and empowered to innovate. That’s honestly been the key to our success for the past 20 years, and keeping true to a strong mission is another secret ingredient.
Q: What was your biggest mistake as a leader and what did it teach you?
A: Oh, boy, there are so many. I used to quickly dictate solutions when a problem arose instead of working through the issue as a team so others could learn from the experience. It sure was hard for me to sit on my hands at first, but it quickly became obvious this was the key to training our next generation of leaders.
Q: What was your biggest success as a leader and what did it teach you?
A: There’s no better feeling than when people seek you out as a mentor. Cultivating the next generation of leaders is key to succession planning and building organizational bench strength. I can honestly say that it is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of my job.
Q: What are you doing to grow the next leader in your company?
A: We’re committed to providing our associates at all levels with opportunities for ongoing professional development, leadership training and career advancement. We offer Dale Carnegie courses, mentoring, professional coaching and our Executive Leadership LINC program that challenges our most talented associates to stretch outside their core responsibilities and become equipped to lead on a statewide or national level.
Q: How do you define a great business?
A: The foundation is a strong mission with clearly stated goals and objectives that are supported by a workforce that works together to be accountable for achieving results. And in the case of health care, these results make a real difference for the families and extended communities we serve.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about doing business in this region?
A: The business-friendly environment created by our state, county and municipal leaders, as well as the South Carolina and Charleston Metro chambers of commerce. In addition, southern hospitality permeates South Carolina, and the sincerely empathetic nature of our associates, providers and community partners is inspiring.
Q: What is your least favorite thing about doing business in this region?
A: There are so many distractions when your company is headquartered in one of America’s most celebrated travel destinations. Coastal South Carolina truly is a great place to live, work and play, and there’s never enough time to do it all.
Q: What impact has the Affordable Care Act had on your business?
A: People are certainly talking about health care. It has put the importance of having health care coverage in the national spotlight and started a meaningful conversation about how we can better meet the health care needs of our nation and its people. It’s placing emphasis not only on access but also quality and achieving the best value for the health care dollar, which is providing new opportunities to transform and innovate the traditional models of care. We welcome that and are active participants.
Q: Name one thing government could do to help your business.
A: Continue to serve as a catalyst for innovation and collaboration by encouraging multi-stakeholder efforts to address some of our state’s and nation’s most pressing issues like the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services and its Birth Outcomes Initiative, which aims to reduce infant mortality, and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, which is testing various payment and service delivery models.