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For Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island’s Jim Gallagher, his ability to help launch products has helped propel his career.
After receiving his B.S. and MBA from the University of Rhode Island, Gallagher started his career in sales at Tufts Health Plan, helping launch one of the insurer’s senior products in Bristol County, Mass. The experience, he says, taught him some basic selling skills and people-management tools he still uses today.
From there, he was recruited to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island as a manager. He was tasked to lead a product launch in 1997. That plan become recognized as one of the fastest-growing in the country, he said.
He moved up quickly at Blue Cross, serving as director of sales before moving to his current role as assistant vice president of strategic marketing and product innovation. He’s responsible for the overall profitability of all commercial segments for the insurer.
Within a year of assuming the position, he overhauled the department he oversees, rectifying what he calls “fundamental issues with the staff.”
Calling himself a “problem solver,” the 39-year-old Gallagher wrote in his 40 Under Forty application that his greatest skill is his ability to manage while also showing compassion for those he directs.
“I feel my skills are leading and developing people,” he wrote. “I do not ask anyone to do more than I would do myself. Balance between personal and professional life is an absolute must for my team.”
He credits his father – who passed away suddenly while Gallagher was in his 20s – with instilling in him those values.
“Some of the more important lessons were: always trust your instincts, believe people and always live for the moment,” he wrote. •
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