Director, Blue Shield of California
Laika is the Director of Health Innovation Product Strategy at Blue Shield of California.
With a BS in Biology, and a BBA in Corporate Finance, Laika began her career as an aspiring dentist. Working in a dental office as a dental assistant, and also utilizing her business skill set, early on Laika began focusing on how to optimize patient care. This included ways to make the dentist office more efficient both on the clinical and business side.
These skills led to a successful consulting career, focusing on strategy development, process re-engineering, and performance management in the healthcare industry. She consulted for clients in the public and private sector – providers and payers.
As the Director of Health Innovation Technology at a payer organization, she looks at building innovative products for stakeholders of the healthcare system through emerging technology. Some innovation ideas she is currently researching has to do with artificial intelligence and cognitive learning, ridesharing for members, and population health management solutions; to name just a few things Laika spends her day on.
Some of the best career advice Laika has been given includes: Have a learning posture. Don’t be afraid to take a detour in your career to find what you are passionate about. Let there be awkward silence in the room – someone will always speak up.
When asked how being a member of WHCE has benefited Laika, her response was “WHCE opened up my eyes to all of the talent in healthcare” further stating, “Watching and learning from WHCE members aspires me to aim higher and evolve myself”.
Advice for the early careerist includes: All moves don’t have to be upward. Sometimes a lateral move will help develop needed skills. It is important to understand the process of the work, which includes having to do and understand the “grunt” work. Take chances and ask to be involved. In her early consulting days, Laika would volunteer to take on stretch assignments, such as reviewing sales proposals and manage project budgets, which developed her skills in areas that she would have otherwise not been involved.
In her spare time, Laika reads books on how healthcare is evolving, digital, and big data and keeps up with the latest industry news through Twitter. Most importantly, she enjoys cooking, hosting friends and family, and traveling. Special family time includes spending time with her husband Umair and 10 month old son, Akbar.
Closing words from Laika: “This is a great time to be in healthcare, especially as women. The industry is at the precipice of a major transformation and it’s amazing to see how many women are in the industry to be along on that journey. Don’t lose sight of the impact you can make in healthcare. The culmination of skills and passion will lead each member to their own spotlight”.