In a new series that will be featured on WCInsights we will be interviewing “Smart Leaders”. Our first featured Smart Leader comes to use from Macy’s, she is Ann Schnure who is the Vice President of Risk Management.
WCI: Can you tell us where you attended school and what was your area of study?
AS: Sure. I attended a teeny college called Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio and I have a Teaching Degree.
WCI: What person has had the most influence in your life and why?
AS: My older brother. He is a brilliant man, very driven and he’s accomplished a lot.
WCI: Work takes up a large amount of time in life, what hobbies do you enjoy when not working at Macy’s?
AS: I am an oil painter. I love to paint.
WCI: If you had more hours in a day to yourself for personal interests what would you do with the extra time?
AS: I’d like to write a book.
WCI: Any topics in particular?
AS: I actually have two or three. I’ve always had it in my head and, I hate the word self-help books because that is what it wouldn’t be. It would be kind of book about my family’s journey. The other would just be purely fiction.
WCI: Can you give us an overview of your career and how you have ended up at Macy’s?
AS: Sure. I started at an insurance company as a multi-line claims adjuster. I did literally everything in claims. I was there for eleven and a half years and when I left there I was the branch claims manager of the whole eastern part of their U.S. claims office. I was recruited by Macy’s to come work there. Macy’s was just acquired and doubling in size and growing. I have been here ever since. I started out as a Manager, then Senior Manager, then Director, and now Vice President.
WCI: We are in a technology age, so whether it be for personal or business use, what do you use on a daily basis?
AS: I love technology. I love the term early adopter because I am the one that I hear about a new app and I immediately download it and try it. My iPhone, I couldn’t live without it. Siri, to me, is the best thing that ever happened.
WCI: Really? You use Siri a lot?
AS: I do. It reads my emails when I am driving. I use it mainly when I am driving or going to write a long memo, email, or something. I let it do it and then I go back and correct it. It takes some getting used to in all honesty. When I first used it I had to edit a lot more than I do now. Either it’s gotten to know my voice or I have figured out how to make it work better. Lots of people don’t use it, I happen to use it a ton. Siri and the navigation app on my phone. I travel a ton and I use that walking and driving in cities I am in, it’s great.
WCI: So you have a teaching degree, how did you end up finding your way into the risk management business?
AS: When I graduated from college I ended up managing a restaurant. It paid way more than teaching did. I just couldn’t bring myself to take a teaching job. Back then it was a significant pay difference, but I was working a million hours managing the restaurant, I was twenty-one and said to myself I don’t want to do this. I needed to find something different to do with my life. I took the first nine to five job that was offered to me. It was a claims adjuster. I totally admit that I just fell into it. I was working sixty to eighty hours a week and wanted a job that was Monday – Friday.
WCI: What do you enjoy most about working for Macy’s?
AS: I like that we don’t have a manual and have to do it one way. We are very flexible. Our attitude is do what’s best, what makes the most sense. I feel that I have the ability to make those this happen, and do what makes the most business sense. Sometimes you have to move a glacier so that you can implement change when it’s needed. When something changes whether it is legislative or a new technology that we have been able to keep up on, I am proud of that.
WCI: You have done everything from adjusting all the way up to your current position, how have you seen how adjusters have changed from when you started to now?
AS: The job is way harder than it ever was before; it’s a very complex job. There is so much information out there on so many things today. My first experience with comp adjusting was very little time was spent on medical payments. Everybody was worried about paying the benefits right, and doing all that. Now the bulk of people’s time is spent on medical issues and medical management with very complex issues. Dealing with pain management and cost of care, along with the outcomes on all these injuries is difficult. There are so many things being measured and reported on, it all has to be done right. It takes really smart people to do the job right.
WCI: What direction do you see the Comp industry heading over the next few years; good or bad and will it have a significant impact?
AS: The biggest thing that everyone is going to have to figure out, state by state, which is painful is what the Affordable Care Act is going to do to comp. Right now it is still in its infancy and it depends on the state and what that means to the comp market in that state. It is too soon to tell if truly all those people are going to flood the market and seek a primary care physician and treatment. Is there going to be access? Something is going to happen; it is just that nobody know exactly what that will be. Some big mega states have very, very low work comp fee schedules – New York has a potential to have the most issues come up with them. The other thing that I think has the potential with the change in the market is that there is some much available data on the quality of care and I wanted to comment on what has silently happened to all of us with the big conglomeration of providers. All of these big health providers and hospital groups have been gobbling up other practices and turning them into big mega groups. I do not see in any way, shape, or form how this has been providing a better outcome to either the patient or the payer, which is me. It is all about revenue generation for them and we have already seen some impacts of that.
WCI: Do you feel that when it happens that ICD-10 will have a significant impact on the industry?
AS: Oh what a headache! It is just one more massive aspect of coding that slows people done in getting their jobs done.
WCI: Being a self-insured / self-administered company, what advantages do you feel you have over your claims environment as opposed to someone who outsources claims to a TPA or something of that nature?
AS: Because we only service Macy’s, we are Macy’s focused in everything we do everything and wear many hats in our department. We are the employer, the TPA, we are everything. We have instant access to everything – the payroll system, the clocking system, everything; it’s really cool. We can see if a person clocked into work that day if we are trying to find them. We can see if they have updated anything on their employee information page. We can see if they have filed for a leave of absence, and everything is in real time. We know who are people are and how to reach them, we also know the management layers if we have any issues. Once we know what’s going on in a store, whatever the issue, if there’s a flood and everyone had to leave the store, if there is an issue paying them. Everything down to how we report on things is all focused on stuff that works to how we operate. I can tell you it’s just a massive, massive advantage.
WCI: What is one thing whether it is technology or equipment that would make your job much easier to do at Macy’s?
AS: Technology! Anytime you can take a process and figure out a way to automate them and get better results. Anytime you take a unit of work away from somebody, that’s awesome. The only reason you should ever implement technology is to take work away and get better results.
WCI: What do you feel makes your team at Macy’s a success?
AS: Because we are all Macy’s and we are all driven. As I said, we are not an insurance company. We sell shirts. I think everybody here understands that. Every dime we spend or pay out impacts the ability for our price and our ability to sell shirts. We all get that and are really passionate about that.
WCI: If you think about your adjusters on your team, what qualities do they possess that make them imperative to your team?
AS: It takes really smart people, people with passion. The people that are really successful in this industry have a passion for their claims and their outcomes. It is not something that you can just give somebody, they have to be careful. It takes that kind of personality that cares about all their outcomes. You can take the easy way out a lot of times; just approve things, let surgeries happen that should not be approved, let disability run longer than it should – it is possible to take the easy way out on comp claims.
WCI: Can you think about one of your adjusters who went the extra mile or worked really hard with that attitude and passion to have a successful outcome on a case?
AS: Yeah! One of the hardest things to do is tell somebody that their claim is denied. The easiest thing to do is just send a denial letter and let the chips fall. I have a relatively new person that actually didn’t do just that. They picked up the phone, weren’t afraid to have the confrontation with the person and talk to them about what the grounds for the denial was and what the reasons were and walked them through what they needed to do to get benefits elsewhere. They sent a very nice letter and they say that’s what makes somebody feel good about work comp. There can be so many negative connotations, you know, they never want to pay me, etc. When you take the time to explain to people how things work and why they work that way that important. That’s the passion and you hope that the person walks away with a positive experience. We actually have a system where you can write Atta boys and praise and this adjuster was actually praised for how they handled it (the denial) which never happens.
WCI: What strengths make up a great leader?
AS: Vision. If you do not have a vision you should not be leading. You have to have a vision and be laser focused to that, but also be willing to listen to people. I tell people, the people that work for me, I don’t get the results – they do. My job is to help them get the tools, get the information. Get them the budget they need to get the job done. That is my job as their leader.
WCI: What has been one of the hardest decisions you have had to make as a risk manager?
AS: When we have made acquisitions through the years there were duplication of people and we have had to offer severances to really, really good people just because we did not have a place for them. It is one of the hardest things in the world to do. You’re letting this fabulous person go that you know is going to be a great employee; you just simply do not have a spot for them. It’s a hard thing to do.
WCI: What resources do you use to stay on top of what is going on in the industry?
AS: I read blog’s. I read everybody’s blog; I at least glance at it. All of my vendors send me newsletters; some are just focused on what they sell me, others are broader. Our attorneys, a lot of them, send out newsletters. We belong to self-insured associations. I belong to the National Council of Self Insurers that provides updates. It seems like it is never enough though.
WCI: What do you think Macy’s does for their worker that separates you from your competitors in the industry?
AS: One, we have a very robust, a very prompt accident reporting system. Even our record only claims have to be reported in 24 hours. Anytime that anybody calls about anything we have a captured record of that in our system. We have this whole “We Care” program about our injured worker where we will send some type of flowers or something to someone when they are in the hospital. We have nurses handle every single hospital admission of one of our employees. Walking them through everything because doctors are often terrible at explaining things, or do not have time. We arrange for all the medical equipment afterwards. We do not leave anything up to them. We’re hoping that, the whole situation when someone is injured at work, that they can walk away from the experience and say Macy’s took care of me. That is always our goal, is that they feel that Macy’s took care of them. We have surveys on our Macy’s Cares Program and it gets very high marks from our injured workers who have experienced it. I am really proud of that. It costs me labor, I have to pay some payroll dollars for it, but it is worth it.
WCI: Since you are so heavily involved in claims do you think that this cuts down on fraud because you’re so involved and know many of the parties?
AS: Absolutely! That’s a really good point you made because we know what our stores look like. We have access to floor plans, leases, and we know our way around the parking lot. We know where employees park, all of that. If somebody tries to say something that just is not even possible, we know because we are Macy’s. We know what time the stores close, how the turn the light on and off. When someone tries to pull one over we know. We know when someone should be in a vehicle and for what purpose. When someone tells us a set of facts, sometimes we say; that’s not the way Macy’s operates.
WCI: What is one habit that an adjuster can start to do that will make their job a little easier on them?
AS: What I said in the beginning, the thing that drives people when you get to the root of is their passion for the job. There are two things that seem to cause people to fail. Lack of organization; it’s a real multi-tasking job. Or people being afraid of conflict; people that are afraid to pick up the phone and have a conversation with an attorney, or an injured worker and instead just send a letter to avoid conflict. That is a negative. I tell people right when they are through training, the very first thing you need to do is pick up the phone and start having conversations because if you don’t do that you are going to be miserable and unsuccessful.
Ann Schnure is a Vice President in Risk Management at Macy’s. Ann currently has responsibility for Workers’ Compensation/Systems/and Operations in that area. Ann oversees a largely self-insured/self-administered Workers’ Compensation program. She also oversees a variety of claims with TPA’s for runoff claims from acquisitions as well as claims that are not self-administered. Ann has been with Macy’s for 19 years in the Risk Management area.
Prior to joining Macy’s, Ann worked for Safeco Insurance Company ending her career there as a Branch Claim Manager over a large claim office.
Ann is a graduate of Wilmington College, Wilmington, OH. She has CPCU and AIC designations and is a member of RIMS, National Council of Self Insurers, CLM and is the Dean of the School of WC for the CLM Claims College.