If you had told Brian Gladden in 2006 that he would shortly be working for a Saudi crown prince, the 14-year GE finance veteran may have replied using a shorthand equivalent to “when pigs fly.”
As a GE finance executive, Gladden had served in a string of senior roles, including a number in which he found himself reporting directly to GE CEO Jeff Immelt.
Nevertheless, when GE announced in 2007 that it had signed a definitive agreement to sell GE Plastics to Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) in a deal valued at $11.6 billion in cash, flying pigs no doubt appeared before Gladden’s eyes.Read More
“Brian and his world-class team now have the right resources to truly transform this industry globally,” reads a comment from a GE press release announcing the deal that subsequently relocated Gladden for 12-month stint in Saudi Arabia, where his new boss—a crown prince—was waiting.
“I had to stay for a year to lead the business through the integration, and this was a challenging time for me culturally,” recalls Gladden, who would step into a CFO role at Dell upon his return to the U.S.
“This was my first public company CFO job—and Dell was a $60 billion-a-year firm—so it was huge stretch for me,” remarks Gladden, who would log nearly 6 years as Dell’s finance chief.
“Every relationship is different—Michael Dell was fantastic with customers and with the company’s vision as far as where technology was going,” comments Gladden. “As finance leader, you discover where to fill in and partner with the leader based on their strengths.”
So, what do Jeff Immelt, Michael Dell, and a Saudi crown prince have in common? The answer is Brian Gladden. –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Zelis … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Gladden: Zelis is a leading healthcare payments company. As everybody who deals with healthcare and has to deal with their own personal dynamics knows, there’s a broken healthcare financial system. If you’ve ever tried to reconcile your bill from the doctor with a statement from the insurer, you know that it’s a mess. It’s massively inefficient and painful for everyone. There’s a lot of wasted expense and energy in the U.S. healthcare system, and a bunch of this has to do with the payments process.Read More
One of the things that’s core to our business is a platform that bridges the gaps in the financial system by aligning the interests of the payers, the providers, and the healthcare consumer. What our business does, on an annualized basis, is to help our clients, who are the payers. We process about $110 billion of healthcare claims. We make about $200 billion worth of healthcare payments per year. We work with consumers. About 100 million consumers work with our tools to navigate healthcare and make the right decisions, to get help in making better financial decisions for better outcomes.
We’re a broad, payments-oriented business that helps across the financial systems that are part of the healthcare system in the U.S, so we’re a pretty scaled business. We’re at over a billion dollars of revenue now, with 2,000 people, and we’re highly focused on technology. We’re really a technology company that helps out the healthcare industry.
We’re just now in the process of starting to build our goals and objectives for 2023. There are three things that I’m prioritizing. One is to continue working on talent and building out a career development framework for our company. I’m 2 years into Zelis, and we’re a small team. We have to think creatively around how we build out the kinds of programs that are going to develop the next generation of talent and make sure that we have successors inside the company in the finance function and more broadly. This is number one among our priorities.
Number two, we’re doing more M&A, so I’ve been tasked with building out an integration management office. We’ll need to hire some talent that will focus on M&A integration. I’ve just made an offer to someone who’s going to start soon and build out that office. We’ve done three acquisitions in the past year, and we’re now deep into the integration process. Number three, we need to get really good at this so that we can get the kinds of returns on these investments that we need to.
Zelis | www.zelis.com | Bedminster, NJ