Sam admits that when he's coaching his children on their robotics team, there are times he has to refrain from jumping in and proposing his own solutions to the challenge at hand. His enthusiasm for the task is compounded by his role as a dad and former engineer—not to mention he also enjoys solving really big problems in his job at UnitedHealth Group. He loves supporting his children's exploration and curiosity, and revels in the robotic solutions they create. It's the same at work, he says, where his team develops novel, forward looking solutions to health care problems. They amaze, impress, and delight him. The same way that Sam amazes us.
How do you describe your job to family and friends?
When I describe my work to family and friends, I tell them we use all kinds of health care economic data to figure out who's going to get sick, before they get sick. And then, we figure out how to intervene.
What are some of the greatest challenges you need to take on in order to be successful in your role?
We're not at the frontline of health care, but we're a crucial part of that. One of the greatest challenges we face is taking all this complex information and turning it into something that a physician or nurse can use at the point of care.
When you’re facing those challenges, what are some of your personal strengths and abilities that come into play?
With a background in engineering and economics, some of my strengths are quantitative problem solving and being able to work with my team to develop very original solutions to complicated problems.
What are the elements of your job you love?
What brings me to work every day is the fact that I can be a keyboard jockey and make a difference in people's lives. That’s a really big thing for me.
How do those same elements show up in the passions and interests you pursue outside of work?
I have a real appreciation for taking a very scientific approach to solving world problems. Coaching my children in a robotics program for students is really important to me, and it's also a lot of fun. I think it's important to build a sense of wonder at a young age and to instill the ability to solve problems with numbers.
How have you grown at UnitedHealth Group?
Being at UnitedHealth Group has helped me gain a real understanding for the incredible complexity around the way health care is delivered in the United States. I feel like I can really impact the health system on a national scale by being here—and that's something I couldn't do anywhere else.
What’s the most important thing someone should know before joining our company?
They should know this company is truly a meritocracy. Strong performance, smart ideas, and willingness to work hard are rewarded in a way I haven't seen at other organizations where I've worked.
If you weren’t working at UnitedHealth Group or doing what you do today, what would you be doing?
I'd be working for a health system here in the Twin Cities.
Favorite person, living or dead?
My wife Maggie, because she's funny and smart and has a totally different spin on the world compared to me.
What is your favorite movie and why?
My favorite movie is The Princess Bride because it has a sense of humor about itself. It also tells a serious story about a group of people who are individually good at things but better together as a team.
What do few people know about you that they would be surprised to learn?
I cry at Disney movies. My daughter once caught me crying at a My Little Pony episode.
What are you most grateful for?
I'm grateful to be where I am in the world, and that I can provide my kids with opportunities in travel, education and robotics.