A few years ago, Shawnice Beard was in search of a career than aligned with her twin passions for helping others and developing herself.
“I looked around my community and saw housing issues, health disparities, and lack of resources and education,” the Chattanooga native recalls.
“Even as a child I had so many ideas for how to help my community — of course, at the time, I didn’t realize the cost and work it takes to create positive change. But despite the hard work, I was determined to find a way to give back.”
A Community Public Health degree felt like the right fit. While pursuing this degree, she interned at the American Heart Association, where she coordinated and implemented the Power to End Stroke Sunday Program as well as several other fundraising events.
In 2014, Shawnice joined BlueCross in a temporary position in the provider contracting department before moving to dental customer service the following year. From there, she became a behavioral health navigator, which allowed her to put her degree to use in the way she had envisioned.
“I remember speaking with a member whose spouse had recently passed — it’s a clear memory because it was around the time my great-grandmother passed,” Shawnice says. “I was talking to this member as if we were family or long-time friends.”
Shawnice gave the member space to share her feelings and provided support while doing so. The sharing and support went both ways — Shawnice felt comfortable discussing her recent loss, and the member provided her own words of encouragement.
“I will never forget this call, and I’ve had many similar calls” Shawnice says.
“Even on the most stressful days, I would always receive a call from a member where we just connected, and it didn’t feel like work. The thought of knowing I helped someone each day was everything to me.”
After two years on the behavioral health team, Shawnice stepped into a new role as a quality management liaison. She ensures departments within BlueCross adhere to national standards regarding health care, quality assurance and Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines.
Shawnice also oversees communications like letters and flyers to inform members about BlueCross policy information. Her favorite part of her job is making sure these communications are easily comprehended. A recent study by Policygenius found that only 9% of Americans understand their health benefits.
“It’s important to me that members have a clear understanding of their health care coverage and the resources we offer,” Shawnice says. “It makes a huge difference in their lives.”
Pursuing new opportunities
Shawnice’s love of helping others is matched by her enthusiasm for personal development.
While looking into development opportunities at BlueCross, Shawnice discovered our job rotation program, which pairs exempt or managerial high-performing employees with a team in another area of the company. By participating in this 3-to-6-month, full-time assignment, employees who are nominated by their department leaders learn new skillsets and network with employees and leaders across BlueCross.
Shawnice was accepted to the program in April 2021, was matched with the BlueCross corporate workforce diversity team and completed a six-month rotation. She hoped the program would help her better understand how different departments across the company function, build on her current skills and help her learn new ones.
“I was ecstatic when I got the position,” Shawnice says. “It was a new adventure for me, and I was eager to learn more.”
Job Rotation Program participants are required to balance their current role while also working with a new department part-time. Despite some nerves around maintaining two jobs, Shawnice and her manager developed a tight schedule — working two days in quality management and three in corporate workforce diversity.
“There were days where work picked up in quality management, so I allotted time for those tasks,” Shawnice says.
“It’s important to find a balance and make sure your management, team and customers are aware and understand that you’re now working in two different areas — and that the experience ultimately benefits them, as well.”
In her rotation, Shawnice:
- facilitated diversity and inclusion trainings
- wrote internal blogs
- partnered with employee resource groups
She also practiced public speaking — a skill she was committed to improving. She led a training with the team, which helped her get out of her comfort zone and more confident presenting to large groups.
All in all, the work helped her better understand BlueCross’ commitment to inclusion and the ways the corporate workforce diversity team works to ensure it’s embedded throughout the company.
Always seeking growth
Since completing her job rotation, Shawnice has continued her career development and exploring her passions.
“My goal is to gain more experience in diversity, equity and inclusion,” Shawnice says. “I’m already serving on several boards in the community and work with young professionals in the area. I believe my work inside and outside BlueCross has equipped me with even more tools to better serve our members.”