Six-month review: 'There is no typical day'

Mar 25, 2020
Valerie Haertel, senior vice president of investor relations at CVS Health, discusses her new role

Haertel has served in senior investor relations positions at Teladoc, BNY Mellon, State Street Corporation, Medco Health and AllianceBernstein. She also served as the NIRI national chair between 2017 and 2018.

Has the job lived up to your expectations so far? 

Yes. CVS Health has been a great move for me. Of all the industries I have worked in, I enjoy healthcare the most. I feel good working for a company that is fundamentally changing how consumers experience healthcare, helping people stay or get well.

We are in the midst of a multi-year transformation, having acquired Aetna last year, and I enjoy being part of a company undergoing change. With change comes challenges and the opportunity to make a real difference. That is what is exciting to me. It’s a great time to be at CVS to shape the narrative for our investors and support the leadership team as it executes our strategic plan.

What does your typical day look like?

There really is no typical day. I spend a fair amount of time in meetings, on calls with investors, analysts or colleagues, or working on a variety of projects when I am in the office. I also spend time with my team working on upcoming events, earnings or other internal reporting for the management team or the board. We have an active IR program and I find myself traveling to conferences or to various US and non-US cities to visit investors.

CVS is a large organization with around 300,000 employees. It’s also a fairly complex business. I am still trying to get to know the organization, meet people and make my way up the learning curve – all of which keeps me very busy. I am based in New York but, since I started, I have been spending a fair amount of time in Rhode Island to get to know the leadership team and my colleagues. Now that I am more settled at around the six-month mark, I plan to spend more time in New York.

What has been the biggest challenge – and the biggest highlight – in the job so far?

The biggest challenge has been the enormous amount of work to be done given our transformation and getting up the learning curve to be effective. There has also been some turnover in my department and managing the level of activity while trying to introduce new processes and deliverables with newer staff is always a challenge. Once I am fully staffed, life should get a little easier. 

The biggest highlight has really been working with the great people who are driven to succeed and are very collegial at the same time. It’s so important to enjoy the work you are doing but even more important to have a great team you respect and with which you can collaborate. 

Given these challenges, what has helped most in the role so far?

I have a great boss, team and colleagues who are all supportive. That helps when you are learning a new business and trying at the same time to figure it out well enough to pull a plan together to advance the function. And while this may sound corny, the firm does have heart – which happens to be the moniker we use. My boss is also very flexible and enables me to work wherever it makes sense, including at home. That has been incredibly helpful.

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