When Jess Alexander joined OurHealth in 2011, she was employee number five at HQ and her job description was admittedly loose. “I pitched in wherever it was needed,” says Alexander. “I answered the phones, helped build client reports, tested the clinic host role, entered lab results into the portal…it was crazy, but it was also a lot of fun!”
The fast-paced healthcare start-up definitely wasn’t part of Jess’ career plan. After moving to Shelbyville, Ind. from Dallas at 13 – she wore overalls on the first day of 8th grade and recalls “it was a disaster” – she finished up high school and sought out a small, but not too small college, and found her home at Butler University where she earned a degree in Finance.
While at Butler, Jess got a part-time job at the campus rec center and discovered a passion for health and fitness. “I taught cycling and water aerobics, doubled as the book keeper and I just loved it,” she says. “My mentor encouraged me to stay with the field so after graduation I went to the University of Kentucky and earned a master’s degree in Kinesiology. My first job offer was for a campus rec position in South Carolina for $26,000, and I realized pretty quickly that I didn’t want to move across the country for a job that was never going to pay that well and would also require a ton of travel.”
So, she moved home, did some soul searching and began networking through her job as a server at the Meridian Hills Country Club in Indianapolis. That effort led to an introduction to Ben and Jeff who explained they “needed some help” at their new business and she signed on.
After a full year in “crazy” mode, Jess transitioned onto the Finance team to help Dave Ritzler, who back then was managing HR, IT and Finance. Jess was excited to put her Finance degree to use and to formalize her role in the fast-growing company. That opportunity spanned a seven-year tenure managing payroll and while that was a big job, the most rewarding aspect was the relationship she forged with Dave. “He’s been an incredible mentor to me. We’ve experienced so many personal milestones together, and I couldn’t have asked for a better manager.”
Amidst all the career growth, Jess also got married to Ryan, a fireman with the Fishers Fire Department, and had two sons, Connor and Austin. “The transition to motherhood when I had Connor was difficult. I probably had post-partum, but nobody told me that. I knew I wanted to work outside the home, but I also didn’t want to leave my son. I’m grateful for the flexibility I have at OurHealth, and now that we’ve had our second son, we’re in a much better place.”
And it was the strength of her relationship with Dave that prompted her to have some honest career conversations over the past few months. The company has more than quadrupled in size since she joined the Finance team, and she saw some other opportunities at OurHealth that interested her. “We had some really honest conversations, and I admitted that advancement within Finance was no longer my goal. I’d picked up a few new responsibilities during some recent HR team changes and found I really liked those. Dave was very supportive and we both wanted me to be in a position where I could grow personally and help grow the business.”
In the coming weeks, Jess will formally transfer to the HR team as a direct report to VP Debby Routt. She’ll retain responsibility for payroll and 401k administration, and pick up compensation analysis – an interest she recently discovered. “Comp analysis isn’t just about how much people are paid. It’s about their total compensation, which includes health benefits, salary, professional growth opportunities, PTO and more. We need to figure out a way to increase internal mobility,” she says. “That’s been my experience here, and I’m excited to work with Debby and the HR team to make that a more popular path for everyone at OurHealth.”
Reflecting on her journey, Jess has some advice for others: build a relationship with your manager; bring your personal goals and experience into the conversation and be willing to do the work.
“I never thought about it as ‘answering the phone’ – I was helping to build a business. It’s been a roller coaster ride, and there are days when it’s been really hard. High-growth businesses are volatile, but we’re helping people and changing healthcare and that’s what has always kept me here. This business is the perfect intersection of my two passions, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have had a front-row seat for the last 8 years.”