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Thursday, February 19, 2015

6570, But who's counting?

Yesterday morning some of my team stopped by to congratulate me on my work anniversary. 18 years - 6,570 days - ago I began my journey at the Colorado Compensation Insurance Authority. CCIA is what Pinnacol was called back then and I still have a gym bag with the now faded red and white CCIA logo. I didn't start in human resources; instead I came in as a supervisor in the customer service team. Several months later the company went through a reorganization, my supervisor job was eliminated, and I had a chance to join the human resources team.

I can still remember my interview. Quite candidly I knew not much more about CCIA than today's candidates know about Pinnacol Assurance. I had gone to the library to look up the company's annual report to learn more (libraries back then - pre-internet/pre-Google - stocked the annual reports of many companies) but hadn't found one for CCIA. I knew it had something to do with insurance (auto? unemployment? business?) but if you had asked me what workers' compensation was I'd have been as clueless as most of the candidates I meet with today. Still, Marcia and Bill took a chance and hired me and here I am 6,571 days later looking back and writing this.

Pinnacol's sign goes up at the Galleria Towers
In those days we were still in the Galleria Towers at 1st and Exposition (near Cherry Creek). Our computer system when I started was called MAGIC, which it wasn't, and was destined to soon be replaced by WCIS (workers' compensation information system) which we are still using today, although it's been updated several times through the years. WCIS too will likely go the way of MAGIC in the next several years as the world we live and work in continues to change. Computers back then still ran on DOS (if you don't know what that is you are lucky), were run off mainframes, and I clearly remember logging on to the world wide web for the first time at work by typing in not a web address you would recognize today but a numerical address that opened up something that wouldn't even be considered a web page. WordPerfect and Lotus123 were state of the art back then and e-mail was not yet the taskmaster it has become.

Today Pinnacol continues to change, currently going through another transformation as we tweak our organization in anticipation of tomorrow's challenges. As it was 18 years ago  it is today - change never comes easily or pain free. Change by its nature creates uncertainty and there is some of that going on now. One thing that hasn't changed in all those 6,571 days are the people I have been privileged to work with. Through the years many individuals have come and gone but the essence of our company remains the people who work here. When candidates ask me what I enjoy most about Pinnacol I always say its the people I work with. Though many of the people I meet with today regarding opportunities with our company were in diapers when I first started, I remain as excited as ever about their potential. Many companies have great employees but I can honestly say that it has been an honor to work with everyone who has worn the id badge of our organization. This truly has been, and remains, a very special place in which to work.

This morning I'll be helping our newest employee complete her first day paperwork as she begins her journey with Pinnacol. I can only wish that her journey over the next 6,570 days is as fulfilling as mine have been.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Stop and smell... the Columbines

For those of you who have today off (President's Day), I feel sorry for you. You missed your chance to commiserate with our east coast brethren during this morning's lovely commute. While Boston struggles to handle 10-12 feet of snow over the last several weeks only Denver can be brought to its knees by just a couple of inches of wet slushy snow. Of course, unlike those back in New England, just two days ago we were enjoying Denver temperatures in the high 60's and low 70's.

A hundred years ago Colorado was in the process of adopting its State Song written by Arthur John Flynn. "Where the Columbines Grow" was written by Flynn in 1909, first performed in 1911, and adopted as the official state song on May 8, by an act of the General Assembly - Senate Bill 308, 1915; Colorado Revised Statute 24-80-909. I know I'm ahead of myself, given that today is only February 16th and the song didn't become official until May but I had a definite case of Spring fever this morning as I was shoveling the walkway. For those of you who have never heard of the original Colorado song, or who perhaps thought that "Rocky Mountain High" by John  Denver was the one and only ("Rocky Mountain High" wasn't adopted as Colorado's 2nd State song until 2007) here is a nice rendition made by Dallin Burnett:


Where the snowy peaks gleam in the moonlight,
    Above the dark forests of pine,
    And the wild foaming waters dash onward,
    Toward lands where the tropic stars shine;
    Where the scream of the bold mountain eagle
    Responds to the notes of the dove
    Is the purple robed West, the land that is best,
    The pioneer land that we love.

    Tis the land where the columbines grow,
    Overlooking the plains far below,
    While the cool summer breeze in the evergreen trees
    Softly sings where the columbines grow.

    The bison is gone from the upland,
    The deer from the canyon has fled,
    The home of the wolf is deserted,
    The antelope moans for he is dead,
    The war whoop re-echoes no longer,
    The Indian's only a name,
    And the nymphs of the grove in their loneliness rove,
    But the columbine blooms just the same. Let the violet brighten the brookside,
    In sunlight of earlier spring,
    Let the fair clover bedeck the green meadow,
    In days when the orioles sing,
    Let the goldenrod herald the autumn,
    But, under the midsummer sky,
    In its fair Western home, may the columbine bloom
    Till our great mountain rivers run dry.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Big Data meets Cup of Joe

Most companies have coffee/beverage service nowadays. At Pinnacol the debate has long raged about what the best coffee is. Most of our employees profess that they want Starbucks but whenever we do periodic blind taste tests of different vendors it's never been Starbucks that has won. Currently we offer Seattle French Roast in our coffee machines as that's the one that's been rated tops by our employees in recent coffee battles. Of course its not sufficient to just serve plain coffee any more and these fancy machines serve up everything from Cappuchino, Latte, and Mocha selections to Chocolate, Vanilla, Milk, and flavor shots. How anyone gets any work done with all of these choices is beyond me.

I was in one of the break rooms today and saw Jose, one of our Facilities team members, installing a new machine. As if we didn't have enough choices already the new machine now offers them in sugar-free. Jose also does the honors every morning by making fresh-brewed iced tea in machines similar to what you'll find at Subway sandwich restaurants. Here too plain old iced tea is not sufficient - on any given day he'll concoct Honey Mint, Passion Fruit, and Mango as well as traditional iced tea. Being the ever-inquiring type that I am I asked Jose if these machines keep track of the servings and if so which flavors were most popular. Not only do these machines do that but Jose also had the inside scoop on which of our four floors drinks the most and least coffee. According to Jose there is considerable variance between the floors but I didn't get into trying to analyze why that might be (do our executives partake of more coffee than the rest of us, do our underwriters need more caffeine than our claims representatives?). Jose gets weekly reports on all of this so from a "big-data" perspective he's got it covered.

When we interview candidates we always offer them coffee, tea, or water. Most candidates choose only water but perhaps after reading this we'll get more requests to try some of the other offerings. I have a feeling those that have been asking for water haven't known what they've been missing!

By the way, if you've ever been curious about where the term cup of Joe came from you might be curious to click here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pinnacol Foundation now accepting applications for Scholarships

It's that time of the year again. The Pinnacol Foundation is accepting applications for scholarships through April 15th. The Pinnacol Foundation Scholarship Program helps the children of Colorado workers injured or killed in a compensable work-related accident—regardless of insurance carrier—pay for their post-secondary education.

Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded nearly $3.3 million in scholarships to over 400 students. Criteria for receiving the scholarships include being the natural or adopted child, stepchild or full dependent of a worker who was injured or killed in a compensable, work-related accident during the course and scope of employment with a Colorado-based employer and entitled to receive benefits under the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act. 

Students must be between the ages of 16 and 25 at the time of application deadline, have and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher, and have a high school diploma or GED or be a high school senior. The application process includes submitting a complete application each year the student requests the scholarship including a personal essay, transcripts, financial information, a resume and a letter of recommendation along with documentation of their parent’s accident the first year of their application.

For more information on the Pinnacol Foundation please visit The site also features video of students talking about how their parent's injury changed their life, and how the scholarship has helped them reach their goals. If you know of someone who might benefit from one of these scholarships please pass this information along!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Happy birthday to...

Candidates who research our company in anticipation of an interview quickly discover that we are going to be celebrating our 100 year anniversary in 2015. But that's not the birthday I want to celebrate today. This week represents the 100 year anniversary of another Colorado milestone - the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park. While war still raged in Europe the House of Representatives passed what the papers of the day referred to as the "Estes Park Bill" establishing what would become one of our state's favorite, and most visited playgrounds. House Republican leader Mann, in urging passage of the bill said he thought the day would come "when the vast horde of Americans who now go to see the mild scenery of Europe would go to see the grand scenery of the Rocky mountains."

What I did not know was that Rocky Mountain National Park was the "4th great playground established by the nation in Colorado." It was preceded by Mesa Verde National Park, Wheeler National Monument, and the Colorado National Monument. The newest national park boasted sixty peaks above 12,000 feet including Long's Peak which on a clear day is clearly visible from our office. Long's Peak, by the way, is only the 15th highest mountain in the state.

I'll leave you with a quote from Enos Mills, often referred to as the father of Rocky Mountain National Park due to his efforts to see the Park established:

“The forests are the flags of nature. They appeal to all and awaken inspiring universal feelings. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten. It may be that some time an immortal pine will be the flag of a united peaceful world.” 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Senior Medical Director of Integrated Care opportunity now open!

It's not often that we have this type of position available so I wanted to spend some time letting folks know about this unique opportunity. We are looking for a Senior Medical Director of Integrated Care who can work collaboratively across our organization and with other community and provider stakeholders to provide clinical leadership and medical management in support of network providers, safety, wellness and return to work programs. This position will be responsible for implementing and managing Pinnacol's overall medical management goals and objectives and working with program managers in the design, development, implementation and evaluation of clinical programs such as utilization management, provider network management, care management and program integrity.

As this is a senior level executive position, candidates should bring the ability to build credibility and establish trust with all levels of the organization, providers, agencies and customers and have a proven track record providing clinical management in a complex workers compensation or occupational health setting or in a progressive managed care organization, academic medical center or integrated delivery system. Acumen in developing innovative clinical delivery initiatives across the spectrum of care and engaging physicians to achieve higher levels of quality and improved outcomes is also required. 

Candidates should also bring a strong executive presence and leadership background serving as a member of a Senior Management Team with the demonstrated ability to motivate, guide, influence and lead others. Experience in health informatics and a passion for applying technology in healthcare innovation with the ability to translate data analytics and complex clinical materials into compelling communications in formal and informal settings is critical to the success of this role. 

A Master's degree in business, health information, public health/administration or other related field and experience in Healthcare Management is preferred. Candidates must be a Board Certified Physician with ability to obtain Colorado licensure; Occupational Health or related specialty preferred. Minimum of 5 years experience in proven clinical practice along with 3 or more years of experience with demonstrated management responsibilities.

As always, we ask that interested candidates please apply online via our company website. Candidates can also view the entire job description here. We look forward from hearing from you if you are interested in this unique position!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CPC Who?

If you are not in the insurance industry you are likely not familiar with the Society of Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters or CPCU for short. If you are an underwriter the CPCU designation is something you aspire to. CPCU's are considered to be property casualty insurance experts and to earn the designation they must pass eight national exams on topics including insurance law, accounting, risk management, and ethics. CPCU's also continually update their base of insurance expertise by participating in technical and professional development workshops and seminars and must meet experience requirements demonstrating proven insurance expertise and knowledge.

At Pinnacol, underwriting is basically half of what we do (the other half would be handling claims) so we are proud of our CPCU's as well as some of our staff who are not only CPCU's but are also CPCU instructors. They are part of an elite group - there are 22,000 CPCU's worldwide (40 countries and 135 chapters) and the CPCU Society has been providing continuing education for 70 years. 1,200 CPCU's are insurance company CEO's and presidents. There are more than 400 CPCU's who call Colorado home.

This morning we had representatives of the CPCU Society on site talking to our employees about upcoming course offerings (many of these are taught at our Pinnacol headquarters). I always talk to candidates about Pinnacol's commitment to ongoing training and development and this is one example of how our employees take advantage of that. If you are curious about the CPCU society they have a very informative website with lots of great information.