Sociology major Sana Hashmi, ’09, is a familiar face to New York residents. An EmblemHealth advertisement featuring the Stony Brook University graduate received considerable television airplay in 2013.
Making headway in a company that serves much of the New York City business community, its unions and the CUNY system, and consists of 5,000 employees spread out over multiple locations, would appear daunting to most recent graduates. To be upwardly mobile when the health industry is reinventing itself at an unprecedented pace might prove to be a lot of pressure for even the most adaptable of college graduates.
But Hashmi embraces her job as director of healthcare reform strategy and product design. Two years after entering her entry level first job, Hashmi has 200 employees answering to her.
“I am the exception to the rule. I’m not in the type of industry that promotes quickly,” naming computer giants such as Google and Apple, as examples of companies who fast-track their employees. The business world has also taken notice — Hashmi was inducted into the prestigious Crain’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2014 earlier this spring.
The relative freedom from responsibility that being single affords has its obvious advantages. “I work an 11-hour day,” said Hashmi. “And I use weekends as an opportunity to get as much done as I can. I do work a lot more than most people but I’m having the time of my life. I love seeing my product hit the market.”
Hashmi’s product is what most people call a healthcare plan. She says she gets a thrill from enlisting new enrollees. “I couldn’t have chosen a better time to be positioned to help roll out new healthcare products,” she said. “It’s the perfect storm. Technology is at its best. We have a whole new population entering health care from baby boomers to millennials. People tell me ‘I’ve never had healthcare before and I’m excited’ or ‘My wife is pregnant and thank goodness I have coverage now.’”
But her excitement about health care reform is tempered by how politicized the roll-out became. “Every state had the right to implement its own plans or defer to the federal government,” she said. “The states that did not want to go with the federal plan are the ones having trouble.”
“I want to spend the next several years doing for the healthcare industry what Google and Apple did for technology,” she said. “Ten years from now the changes will all be in effect and everything will normalize. Americans are not a patient people and we need to be.”
Hashmi said that she has implemented SBU Dean of Students Jerrold Stein’s open door policy at EmblemHealth. “He had a big influence on me in how he cared about people. He taught me that you can make a huge impact by listening to others even though you’re just one person.”
She embodies the adage that if a person loves what they do for a living, it’s not really work. “As long as you wake up each morning excited to do what you love your success can be unlimited. And if you don’t feel excited, it’s time to move on.”
— Glenn Jochum