Naugle Found His Niche in Healthcare Management
by Howard W. Hewitt
April 1, 2009
SEATTLE, Washington - Andrew Naugle ’98 shares an oft-repeated anecdote with the gusto only those who know him can fully appreciate.
"If I go to a cocktail party and someone says, ‘what do you do?’ And I say, ‘I help insurance companies figure out how to make more money’ you can see them go, ‘Oh boy, I’m glad I don’t have that guy’s job.’ "
Then it comes – that big laugh!
Naugle’s personality might seem an odd fit for a healthcare consultant who spends much of his time at a computer writing and problem solving. He is a principle with Milliman, an actuarial consulting firm. He works from the heart of downtown Seattle with a view of Puget Sound and the mountains just out his window. At least that’s the scene when he’s not on the road.
Milliman is one of the largest employers of actuaries in the country. They also employ professional staff of nurses, doctors, and experts in the area of employee benefits. "We sell IT solutions to health plans and traditional management consulting for local and national health plans," Naugle explained.
Naugle has carved a niche in writing proposals for people in the military and the government. That area of expertise started with a summer job in Louisville while he was working toward his English degree at Wabash.
"It’s really fascinating what we do here," he said. "We’re trying to predict the futures, actuaries use methodical thinking. I know I can never actually be right, so I’m going to take as much information as I can and come out with something that’s credible. "
The Salem, Indiana, native cites a simple example of what Milliman brings to the table. "I’ve got a customer with seven call centers and they want to figure out which is better, how much are they going to save by consolidating all their call center operations in one location. But what are the consequences of that decision, because it’s more than just about money? We help a customer think through a strategic decision like that, looking at the qualitative component, looking at the quantitative component, looking at the human implications to decisions like that.
"The hard answer is they benefit from having a building in the local community with their name on it. They benefit from being an employer, they benefit because they’re customer service representatives needs to have local knowledge."
For a kid who thought he was going to be a lawyer, it’s worked out well.
"I've had a very successful career so far," he laughed. "I’m an English major from Wabash College, a tiny place. Nobody around here has even heard of the river.
"But this job enables me to live in a beautiful place, have a great house, and all that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day I’m really fascinated by healthcare. I find healthcare and health insurance to be absolutely fascinating."
He also appreciates the autonomy of Milliman’s unique structure. The company is owned by its equity principles. It’s a company, Naugle said, that most people have never heard of before. "I like to be in control of what I’m doing and I like to be in control of my success. I’m a real big believer in risk/reward," he said. "I’ll be happy to take the risk, bring it on and give me as much risk as I can have because then it’s my fault if I screw it up."
He had to work his way through summers while at Wabash and quickly discovered he didn’t like stocking grocery store shelves. But he learned that Humana in Louisville was looking for people who could type because they were setting up a company to do military health insurance. He got the job and became an editor to review other people’s work. He even missed a semester at Wabash to work in the industry. But, he had made a connection that lead him to his career.
Along the way he thought of pursing a Masters in Health Administration but heeded advice to remain a generalist. He picked up his MBA from Notre Dame before going to work for Milliman. Naugle shared a great story that his credentials for Notre Dame might have been lacking. But someone at Wabash placed some calls and convinced admission officials to give him a shot. To this day, Naugle doesn’t know who gave him the needed boost.
But he does know that Wabash helped develop the skills he relies on today.
"I learned how to take a 1,000 pages, figure out what I’ve got to read and what I don’t. What’s important and what’s not? That’s what I do in my business today. I go out and meet with people and they give me binders of information," he laughs, in an office filled with stacks of papers.
"I learned how to write at Wabash, the ability to crank out 20, 30, or 50 pages. Even if you do a great analysis, if you can’t communicate that analysis to the client you’ve got nothing. And then there is the ability to get up and give a presentation, which I learned how to do at Wabash. All of those skills have helped me relate to people on any level."
He also thinks working for the College helped him apply those skills in a practical world. Naugle had an ESH job working in the alumni office and spent considerable time folding letters and filing.
"Let’s say the College’s job is to educate young men. Well there’s a tremendous amount of infrastructure in place behind that which is not academic. The machinery has to be in place in order to deliver that service."
He became aware of the professional staff’s role in making things work at Wabash.
"I much more enjoyed working in the alumni office than I did reading the plays of Shakespeare," he said, then laughed again. "(Staff leadership) gave me opportunities to get involved. I did summer research on endowed chairs, the history of endowed chairs at Wabash, and things like that."
He thinks his average academic performance has led him to a more rewarding career today. "I think if I had done really well at Wabash, I wouldn’t be doing this today," he said, guessing he’d be an attorney. "I’ll be doing contract work and doing wills and estates in Salem, Indiana."
He’s proud of where he is now and relishing in the fact he’s sharing the experience. Naugle hired John Kasey ’08 in June of 2008 to come to Seattle and Milliman. "I wanted somebody right out of college," he said. "I didn’t want somebody who had bad habits. I really don’t care if you know anything about health care because I can teach you about health care. I can’t teach you to write. I can’t teach you to think. But I can teach you about health care."
In center right photo: Naugle with John Kasey '08. Naugle hired Kasey during the summer of 2008 to work at Milliman. This photo was taken in the Queen Anne neighborhood where Naugle lives with his fiance. A beautiful view that includes Mt. Ranier on a clear day.