Mansi Patel Talks About the Value of Mentorship and Intersectionality
Throughout Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Centene has been shining the spotlight on employees of AAPI descent. Mansi Patel joined Fidelis Care in 2014 and is now Centene’s Vice President of Market Strategy & Operations. She is also a member of Centene’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council and all five Employee Inclusion Groups (EIGs) — ABILITY, CENVET, cPRIDE, I.N.S.P.I.R.E, and MOSAIC.
In the following Q&A, Mansi describes her role, how managed care offers the opportunity to impact lives, the value of serving on the Executive DEI Council and EIGs, and the importance of mentorship.
Q. Tell us about your background, your career at Centene, and your current role as Vice President, Market Strategy & Operations?
A. With many family members in the healthcare industry, I have always had a passion for healthcare and improving quality of care. This led me to pursue a master’s degree in Public Health, during which I started with Fidelis Care in 2014. I quickly realized the managed care space was the perfect intersection of patients/members, providers, public policy, and so many other stakeholders, and knew this was a special place to make a positive impact and grow professionally. Throughout the past eight years, I have held roles within Product Development & Corporate Innovation, Population Health & Clinical Operations, and Central Operations. Each had a unique focus on strategic initiatives, data and analytics, and operational improvements. In April 2022, I transitioned to the role of Vice President, Market Strategy & Operations within the Markets division to maximize communication and alignment between Markets and Shared Services on various value creation initiatives.
Q. What is the most meaningful part of your job?
A. At the end of the day, the most meaningful part is knowing that what I and all of us within Centene do ultimately makes a difference in people’s lives. While my roles have not been member facing, I have met many individuals in the community and in my personal life who have been members of our local health plans and have shared stories about how they’ve been helped. Whether it is help accessing the right coverage, being connected with a community organization, or support from our clinical professionals to monitor their health concerns, meeting these individuals and hearing their stories reminds me every time what I do has purpose.
Not only do we have the privilege to do mission-based work, we work alongside incredibly talented individuals — working together toward a collective goal. Smart individuals at all levels can be anywhere, but they choose to be here. Seeing that our members and communities have the best and brightest looking out for their interests is powerful to me as a professional and keeps me motivated every day.
Q. Who influenced you most during your career and why?
A. My family, particularly my mom and dad. Like so many other Asian Americans, my family’s story is one of immigrants who came to the United States in search of greater opportunities for themselves and their children. I’ve watched my parents and other family members work diligently to achieve what they have today. Hard work was a mentality for them, an ethos. They were determined to achieve everything they sought out to do regardless of the barriers that stood in their way. Having a front row seat to that is a constant reminder that I’ve been given the privilege to go after my own dreams without needing to worry about the obstacles they faced.
Q. How is Centene’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) different from other companies?
A. DEI is woven into everything we do, and given the diversity of our stakeholders, particularly our members and employees, it is wonderful to see us leaning into improving our efforts in this space wherever we see meaningful opportunity. What sets us apart is that we do not shy away from actively listening to our employees and communities, being intentional about how we work toward change, and being transparent about our approaches. We also make it clear that DEI is everyone’s responsibility and hold ourselves accountable to clear and measurable goals while providing countless tools to People Leaders and team members to help us collectively achieve our goals.
I was honored to be invited to join the Executive DEI Council this year to continue to advance our organization’s DEI agenda and strengthen our inclusive environment. During these first few months as a Council member, I have been delighted to see the important behind-the-scenes discussions and work that the Council does to understand key issues and drive programs across and stakeholder collaboration throughout the organization.
The time and focus we dedicate to DEI is exemplified through the DEI Annual Report and the annual DEI Summit — both further demonstrate our desire to be informative and inclusive. Bottom line — we mean it when we say that DEI is a priority for our organization and enables us to best serve employees, members, and communities.
Q. Tell us about why you became involved with all five Centene Employee Inclusion Groups?
A. I became involved with our EIGs to increase my understanding of other groups across our workforce. The I.N.S.P.I.R.E Women's EIG is one that has resonated the most with me and has given me exposure to strong women across our organization. The most rewarding experience was to be paired with a mentor last year who also happened to be of Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage. Through that same program, I am now serving as a mentor to two talented women in different health plans. One of the greatest benefits of being part of a large organization such as ours is the ability to meet and learn from people of so many backgrounds and life experiences. We each have something to learn from one another.
Q. Can you talk about the importance of intersectionality and how can we use an intersectional lens to enhance care to our members and the communities we serve?
A. Whether it is in our personal or professional lives, it is critical to understand those around us in order to act with empathy and compassion. By acknowledging the natural complexity of human beings and that their various identities must be first understood to best serve them, we unlock the potential to provide individualized yet scalable care to those who need it most.
Q. What are your thoughts on the significance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
A. For me, it is a moment to acknowledge our history, educate others about the vast Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month diaspora, and recognize those who continue to make a difference in communities and workplaces. Heritage months are also wonderful opportunities to understand current issues. Groups within the AAPI community have their own unique set of struggles that have been further amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bringing awareness to these important issues and bridging the knowledge gap is imperative to increasing understanding and work toward becoming the authentic allies we strive to be.
This month also allows us to appreciate the accomplishments of the community. Our contributions to the arts, sciences, business, and politics continue to grow. I love that Asian American and Pacific Islanders have role models in each of these areas to look up to and admire.