Data drives nearly everything we do at CoverMyMeds — which is why we hire remarkable people like Ben Campbell.
Ben, a data scientist who joined the company last summer, shares why he chose to start his career at CoverMyMeds, what excites him about his work and what he loves most about our culture.
CoverMyMeds: Can you tell us about your journey to CoverMyMeds?
Ben Campbell: I came to CoverMyMeds fresh out of Grad School; I’d spent the last nine years in school — four years in undergrad, another five years in graduate school — and decided I did not want to pursue a career as university professor. It had been nine years struggling with work-life balance, working in solitary conditions, privileging my work to my mental and social health, and the effects were showing.
Around this time, I took a meeting with a friend and former academic who worked in the local Columbus tech scene. They encouraged me to think about finding work in tech, where I could use my statistical and programming skills to do interesting and important work. I decided I wanted to pursue a position outside academia, one in which I would still be intellectually challenged and encouraged to be innovative and creative — two benefits of working in academia — but not beholden to the trappings of the conventional industry life, like inflexible work hours and stuffy corporate culture.
I came across a data science posting at CoverMyMeds, a company I had, in truth, known very little about, and it seemed to be a perfect fit for my skillset. As I started talking with people around CoverMyMeds, and as I interviewed, I realized it was the perfect situation: a growing company known for making culture a priority, where I could work on really exciting data science problems.
CMM: Tell us a bit about your role today.
BC: On a typical day, I feel like I get to do important work. I get into the office and immediately grab a cup of Upper Cup coffee and the fruit-flavored water that our culinary team makes, which I love. After that, I get right to work. I usually spend the day writing code — SQL or Python generally — to pull data from our servers, transform and process it, analyze or predict from it, and/or interpret the output. I spend far more time doing hands-on work than being in meetings — which is saying something, as we are a team that works across many business units and on a diverse array of projects.
For the most part, members on our team work on individual projects. Recently, however, there has been more collaboration, including the development of new approaches to forecasting. I love this work, because I get to use statistical approaches I’m familiar with from grad school, and my collaborators have had the opportunity to learn more that they might have otherwise. In a nutshell, I get to take all the skills I developed for the sake of producing knowledge in academia to produce physical products that impact patients and help them get their medications.
CMM: As someone relatively new to CoverMyMeds, what are your thoughts on company culture? How does it compare to other places you’ve worked?
BC: I love working here and being part of a company that makes being each employee’s “best place to work” a company-wide priority. I’ve been encouraged to attend conferences, conduct workshops and hone my skills in a way that allows for my personal and professional development.
CMM: Do you think our growth will impact the culture?
BC: Since joining last summer, we’ve grown our team by more than 25 percent — that is wild to me. While there are way more people now than there were in June, it still, somehow, feels the same. As we get new voices and identities, I can only imagine that our culture will become more vibrant and unique. Yes, it’s a little more difficult to find a choice parking spot, and there have been some space sacrifices, but the culture is just as it was several months ago.
CMM: So, what makes CoverMyMeds your “best place to work?”
BC: Easy answer: relaxed dress code and healthy meals provided by a selfless and innovative culinary team. I haven’t had the same meal twice; they really take it upon themselves to be creative. I literally have made chili every Sunday for the last month, and they’re whipping up falafel tots and gyros on a Tuesday like it’s no big deal. But, seriously, I’m encouraged to be innovative. Whether it’s a week off to work on an exploratory project or to take some time to read up on new statistical work, to learn new skills … continuous improvement and innovation are crucial to the fabric of our culture. I thrive on finding new, cool ways to tackle a problem, and so does CoverMyMeds.
CMM: What do you see as the biggest challenges we’re up against? How do you see us tackling those?
BC: Space! We’re growing so fast; we’re running out of space to put all these new people we’re hiring. But this is a great problem to have. This has required a lot of teams to embrace alternative strategies for using their space, whether it be working from home or using more community desks. But, our Environments team and company have excelled in embracing challenges. (Note: We’re moving to our new campus in 2021! Learn more here.)
CMM: How do you see your work impacting our mission: Help patients get the medications they need to live healthy lives?
BC: Describing the nuts and bolts of my work is hard: Data Science is a relatively new field and one that not many are familiar with. I always tell people that I use the technology Apple uses to identify your face, or Tesla uses to pilot self-driving cars, to help patients get the medications they need to live healthy lives. (We use data) to get patients on to a medication that their health plan is more likely to cover, faster than ever. Even the work and the solutions that aren’t directly designed for patients ultimately are designed to help them.
CMM: Anything you’d like other data analysts and scientists to know?
BC: As a data community at CoverMyMeds, we’ve been really good at outreach — we do a lot with groups at Ohio State, at both the graduate and undergraduate level, to assist in data analytics and science training. What’s nice about being a part of this team is that you’re able to be plugged into the broader data community in Columbus and beyond. Also, you can use whatever tools and languages you want for programming, which is nice.
When I joined CoverMyMeds, I wasn’t sure I’d find this work interesting. But, as I’ve learned more about it, I’ve realized just how important the prior authorization process is. I have family members with chronic medical conditions, and now I have the potential to impact the process that allows them to get their life-saving medications.