Huntsman Alumni Magazine

Fall 2012

Voice – Steve Neeleman, ’94 CEO, Health Equity, Inc.

Dare to Take the Higher Road

What are some guiding principles that anchor your leadership philosophy?

There are enough people in this world who try to lead by telling people what to do. I think it is more important to lead by example. Since I founded HealthEquity in 2002, I have always been willing to jump on any plane, fly to any city, or pick up the phone to make any call to help our sales and business leaders perform their important duties. If we ever have a client conflict or challenge, I will support our team to make the right decisions to serve our customers.

We try to instill in our team members 3 key principles: 1) Team members (the word “employee” is a pet peeve of mine) must be “ambassadors” of your brand. 2) We must strive for “flawless execution.” 3) If we make a mistake, or if our customer perceives they have been wronged in any way, fix it quickly and thoroughly and they will become more loyal than if we had never made a mistake. We measure our success in these efforts by conducting regular surveys, utilizing the Net Promoter methodology, to track our success.

Our team members have helped us to become one of the most highly regarded service companies in the health care and financial service industries by adhering to these principles.

What does “Dare Mighty Things” mean to you?

As I was completing my 5 year surgical residency at the University of Arizona, which followed 4 years of undergraduate education at USU and 4 years of medical school at the University of Utah, I decided to start HealthEquity. I love practicing medicine and feel a remarkable sense of responsibility for patients that have been entrusted to my care. That being said, I realized that while a busy surgeon may treat several thousand patients and employ a few dozen people during the course of a long career, starting a company has the ability to serve millions of people and employ hundreds or thousands of people.

Surgery is a very demanding career choice with high stress and long work hours. But there is minimal career or financial risk in medicine. There is typically high market demand for a general surgeon’s services. I chose to “Dare Mighty Things” by starting a company to help change the way that Americans consume health care and help people build health savings for their future health care needs.
HealthEquity’s mission statement is bold, long term, and noble: “We will save health care by helping people better save and spend their health care dollars.” We currently provide services to more than 1 million Americans and have over 250 team members. We manage nearly $1 billion of our customers’ health savings account deposits.

I am lucky to still be able to practice surgery on a part-time basis so I get the best of both worlds of serving people in medicine and business. Dare Mighty Things means to me to not take the easy or safe journey in life, but rather to take the road that can help the most people to have a better life.