Whether she’s teaching herself to play ukulele, planting a lush, expansive garden in her back yard or ensuring the business and information technology (IT) strategies at BlueCross are in sync, Rachel Pescatore thrives on challenges.
“You give me a challenge, I’ll find a solution,” the enterprise architect says. “That’s what I do.”
Born in Dallas as one of four siblings with what she calls “the techie nerd gene,” Rachel has lived in Chattanooga for most of her life. An employee at BlueCross for nearly 10 years (she’ll celebrate a decade with the company in April), she works behind the scenes to help ensure the member experience is as smooth as possible.
Supporting the structure
Asked to describe a typical day on the job, Rachel’s response is succinct.
“Meetings,” she repeats. “Enterprise Architecture helps to drive strategy with the business, and we’re dealing with all sorts of initiatives. A typical day is spent in meetings and squeezing in work to diagram what systems are connecting for a particular initiative. We can sit and talk about changes we’d like to see, but I’m going to put a picture in front of you to help you say, ‘Oh, now I see. That doesn’t exist today, and it’s going to exist tomorrow.’
“Think about what an architect does,” Rachel continues.
“If you build a house, you need architectural plans to know where the pipes go, where the wiring goes, etc. My team says, ‘OK, the pipes go this way, so we can’t build a support structure that way. The pipes won’t allow it.’”
Rachel is currently helping the pharmacy management team develop systems and processes to help meet members’ needs while managing costs effectively in a changing market. BlueCross spends more on prescription drugs than any other health plan benefit, and prescriptions are also the most widely used benefit – used about four times more than the number of doctor visits. Each of our members received, on average, 15 prescriptions last year.
All of Rachel’s responsibilities are crucial to providing the high-quality services that our members have come to expect. By managing the unseen work that supports everything from cost analysis and quick claims resolution to keeping your personal health information protected, she helps members avoid challenges of their own.
“Members may not even realize it, but what’s really important for them is for the business side of BlueCross and the IT side to be aligned,” Rachel says. “We’re not all going to be experts in everything, but that’s what I think is so great about my team – we have a vast array of skills and knowledge, for everything from our claims system to our web portal to payments, that we can leverage across a wide variety of projects.”
For every project that comes their way, the Enterprise Architecture team provides answers for questions such as:
- What are the gaps?
- What is the true business impact?
- What is most cost-effective in the long term?
- What have we not talked about yet?
- Who needs to be looped in so everyone can move forward?
Common ground in different experiences
When it comes to moving forward, BlueCross has been an innovator in the realms of diversity, inclusion and cultural competency among its workforce. The policies we’ve put in place have affected Rachel on a deeply personal level.
“In 2008, when I joined the BlueCross family, I was immediately able to include Jada, my domestic partner, on my benefits,” Rachel remembers. “That gave me the same peace of mind that all of my coworkers are afforded. I followed the process that BlueCross writes for all employees, no questions asked.”
“Even though my family picture doesn’t look like everyone else’s, I’m treated the same when I come into work every day.”
The inclusive environment that we foster for employees extends to the service we provide our members, as well.
“Just as our employees are diverse, so are our members,” Rachel says. “That’s why it’s so important that our collective message demonstrates the value and importance that we put on cultural competency. I guarantee that our customer service representatives have many examples of calls detailing situations that some might deem ‘nontraditional,’ but in the end, they’re going to treat every member the same.”
Rachel and Jada married in New York in 2012. They live with their three Yorkies, Josie, Coco and Tag, and celebrated five years of marriage in October. They enjoy spending their time together cooking and “staycationing” in their backyard garden.
“We had quite the garden growing over the summer,” Rachel says. “We planted kale, Swiss chard, green onions, colored bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, herbs, lettuces … and I had flower gardens all over the place.”
Through the harvest process, Rachel was able to check off another challenge – preparing her own “farm-to-table” meals.
“The coolest thing is being in the kitchen and thinking, ‘Hmmm, I want a bell pepper or an onion,’ and going out to your yard and picking one,” she says. “You know how it was grown. You know there are no pesticides. It tastes great. It’s very rewarding to grow it from a seed and then just enjoy it.
“Actually,” she adds, “the coolest thing is we’ve never had anything creepy or scary. No snakes.”
Impromptu musical performances also have a place in the back yard. Despite Jada’s lack of a musical background (“I have a musical background, she has a sports background,” Rachel says. “Complete opposites on both of those”), Rachel roped her into the challenge of learning an instrument together.
“I grew up playing the clarinet and piano, but we both learned to play the ukulele,” she says. “An app taught us all of the chords. So, we sit and strum while I blare and sing, and hopefully not disturb the neighbors too much. The dogs are like, ‘Oh please, make it stop.’”
Embracing challenges on the horizon
On the career front, Rachel’s time with BlueCross has emphasized the value of flexibility and openness.
“With other companies I’ve worked for, there wasn’t a huge career path,” Rachel says. “I’ve asked people who have been at BlueCross for 20, 30 years, ‘How do you stay refreshed and engaged?’ They say, ‘You have to move around and have different experiences across the company. It only builds your expertise of the business.’”
She’s taken that advice from her peers – and the challenges that accompany it – to heart.
“It’s really a win-win for BlueCross and for us as employees,” she says.
“I’m an architect, and I feel like I should know it all, but I can’t. The upside is even though I’ve been here almost 10 years, every single day I learn something new.”
Reflecting on her role, her career, and working for a company that weaves diversity and inclusion into all aspects of the way it serves its members, Rachel knows that she’s cleared her own path and navigated her way to success.
“There’s a commercial that asks, ‘Would your 10-year-old self be proud of who you are?’” she says. “I saw that and thought, ‘My 10-year-old self never even knew a thing such as Enterprise Architecture existed.’ So I think she’d be proud.”