Renee Mitchell: Shaping HR Excellence in a Dynamic Landscape

Top 10 Outstanding HR Executives to Follow in 2024

In the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of HR, one name stands out as a beacon of innovation and excellence, and it is Renee D. Mitchell, DM. As the Chief Administrative and Human Resource Officer at Zing Health, a leading healthcare organization, Renee has carved a remarkable path in the industry, earning her a well-deserved reputation as one of the “Top 10 Outstanding HR Executives to Follow in 2024.”

Renowned for her pivotal work, this seasoned executive received the HRO Today’s Healthcare CHRO Front of the Front Lines Award Leader of Distinction for 2023. She defines herself as “Intentional,” a philosophy that has guided her transformative approach to healthcare administration and human resources, making her a trailblazing leader shaping the industry’s future.

In this cover story, we will learn how, in her inspiring journey, Renee Mitchell has left an enduring imprint on the HR industry, fostering a new era of human resources that is not only adaptive but also instrumental in propelling businesses forward. This article additionally offers an exclusive opportunity for aspiring women leaders to glean valuable insights from her extensive wealth of wisdom.

Redefining Success: A Multifaceted Perspective

Drawing inspiration from Maya Angelou’s timeless wisdom that “Nothing succeeds like success. Get a little success, and then just get a little more,” Renee challenges the conventional notion of success as a linear journey from point A to point B. Instead, she sees success as a multi-dimensional sphere encompassing a myriad of desired points, stretching from A to Z+.

“For me, success is a state of mind. It is a combined state of happiness, confidence, and self-worth,” she articulates. 

Happiness, in her view, transcends mere joyfulness, encompassing a profound sense of presence and acceptance of the present. Confidence manifests as an unwavering belief in knowledge, skills, and expertise. At the same time, self-worth empowers people to recognize their innate talent to make a difference, both for themselves and in contributing to the success of others.

Navigating HR: A Chosen Path

While many HR professionals stumble into the field, Renee’s career trajectory was a deliberate choice. Amidst the uncertainty of changing her major four times during her undergraduate years, a career assessment tool recommended a path in personnel management, as it was known at the time. It guided the young Renee toward a few introductory classes in Industrial Organizational Psychology, where she found her passion for understanding how human behavior shapes organizational performance. Recognizing the complexity and breadth of the HR field, she felt a desire to master its various facets and their interconnections. She recollects and shares, “I wasn’t satisfied with knowing one, two, or even three specific areas of human resources. I needed to know them all, how they connected, and through the connections how you influence human behavior in order to optimize organizational performance.” 

Her commitment to learning led her to acquire a rich toolkit, including a bachelor’s and master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology, a doctorate in organizational leadership, certification as an executive coach, and proficiency in numerous assessment and organizational development tools. HR is not just a job for Renee; it’s a lifelong journey of continuous growth and evolution. 

A Day in the Life of Chief Administrative and Human Resource Officer at Zing Health

Renee’s role as the Chief Administrative and Human Resource Officer at Zing Health is a multifaceted one, requiring her to balance numerous responsibilities. In her capacity as Chief Administrative Officer, she holds the key role of overseeing the company’s administrative operations, encompassing corporate governance, operational compliance, facilities management, and the Department of Human Resources. As the Chief Human Resource Officer, she was instrumental in building the entire HR department from the ground up. Renee continues to lead all HR functions that include developing future HR contributors and leaders. Together, their primary focus is crafting and executing a comprehensive human resource strategy aimed at driving business success and enhancing organizational performance. This strategy includes critical aspects such as organizational development, talent management, compensation, performance evaluation, training and development, succession planning, and change management.

“Ask any HR Professional; there are no regular days,” Renee says. “In a single day, I can go from a workforce planning session to ordering company tumblers for a “going green” initiative.” 

Her typical workday is marked by constant interaction with company executives, associates, and external agencies. This interaction varies in scope and can encompass numerous responsibilities, from providing executive coaching to explaining health benefits. Some days, she may find herself effectively tackling her ‘to-do’ list., On other occasions, new and pressing matters may arise, necessitating immediate attention and potentially delaying the completion of her pre-planned tasks.

Overview of Zing Health

The term “Zing” evokes vitality, dynamism, and enthusiasm. Zing Health’s primary objective is to empower Medicare beneficiaries by delivering the care, services, information, and wellness programs necessary to attain ‘amaZing health.’

Founded and led by physicians, Zing Health is a pioneering provider of Medicare Advantage health plans, primarily focusing on revolutionizing health outcomes for historically underserved populations. Understanding that a significant portion of clinical outcomes is influenced by non-medical factors and social determinants of health, the brand adopts a unique approach that delves into members’ lives beyond the clinical setting.

The core mission of Zing Health is clear and resolute: to offer managed care Medicare Advantage plans that address social determinants of health, thereby reducing healthcare disparities among historically marginalized communities. Their comprehensive plans seamlessly integrate Medicare Parts A and B benefits with Part D prescription drug coverage while providing myriad extra benefits, including dental, vision, and hearing care. Notably, Zing Health excels in minimizing healthcare expenses and eliminating financial uncertainties for its members.

Zing Health’s unwavering focus is on tailoring benefit-rich plans to meet the diverse needs of its members. These plans encompass specialized options for individuals with specific health conditions, such as diabetes and heart conditions, and dual-eligible special needs plans for those on Medicaid and Medicare. Complementing this, Zing Health adopts a highly personalized approach, striving to comprehend the holistic needs of each member, develop custom care plans, facilitate access to social determinants of health resources, and provide top-tier customer service.

What sets Zing Health apart are its differentiating factors: exceptional high-value benefits with competitive drug pricing, complimentary key medical devices, and supplementary benefits like groceries, Over-the-counter (OTC) cards, and transportation services. 

Moreover, Zing Health champions a personalized model of care, placing members and their primary care providers at the center of the healthcare journey. This approach is bolstered by a holistic care team consisting of nurse care managers, behavioral health clinicians, social workers, and connections to vital community resources, creating a healthcare experience that’s genuinely transformative and member-focused.

Zing Health’s commitment to a positive workplace culture was underscored by its consecutive recognitions in the Modern Healthcare Best Places to Work for both 2022 and 2023. Furthermore, the company’s relentless dedication to social impact was acknowledged when it secured the inaugural Social Impact Award at 1871’s 15th Annual Momentum Awards.

Overcoming Challenges: Building Strength Through Authenticity

In the earlier stages of her career, Renee encountered a significant challenge that ultimately turned into a source of strength in her professional journey. Working within larger corporations, she noticed a prevalent perception that leadership potential was often associated with extroverted characteristics, such as being the first to speak in meetings, rapid idea generation, and energetic engagement in social activities with colleagues. As an introvert, her approach to leadership differed, as she preferred to thoroughly formulate her thoughts before speaking. With the encouragement of her supervisor, she ventured outside her comfort zone and began speaking in meetings. However, she sometimes left these gatherings feeling that she hadn’t added value or had later more comprehensive insights. This experience imparted a valuable lesson: the importance of remaining true to oneself and embracing one’s unique style while articulating individual needs to be a contributing factor. Renee discovered that taking a moment to collect her thoughts with statements like “I have some ideas, let me think for a moment so I can present them” allowed her to be a more effective colleague and leader, fostering trust and understanding among peers. This challenge, in retrospect, served as a catalyst for her personal and professional growth, reinforcing the notion that challenges indeed make one stronger.

Redefining the HR Industry: Renee Mitchell’s Transformative Contribution

Over the past 16 years, Renee Mitchell has made an indelible mark on the HR industry by spearheading the redesign and construction of HR functions within small businesses and start-ups. Her invaluable contribution has transcended traditional HR roles, emphasizing three essential aspects: business identity, agility, and scalability.

Renee’s approach has centered on crafting HR infrastructures that actively mold organizational culture, fortify the organization’s capacity to respond swiftly and adeptly to change, and establish systems that bolster operational fluidity. Through her strategic partnership with organizations, Renee is on a mission to enlighten business leaders about the profound potential of HR in providing crucial workforce data and innovative solutions to confront business challenges head-on. She is resolute in her commitment to shift the prevailing perception of HR from being merely a tactical support entity to a genuine and strategic business ally, thereby redefining the role of HR in the modern business landscape. 

Modern Technology as an Enabler: Renee’s Perspective on HR Evolution

Across various industries, successful people hold diverse viewpoints on the impact of modern technology. For Renee she sees such technological advancement as a crucial enabler that empowers HR to function as strategic business partners. Particularly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has proven invaluable in managing tactical HR responsibilities, freeing up more time for HR professionals to concentrate on strategic business objectives. Simultaneously, the advancements in HR information systems have bolstered the accessibility of workforce data, ensuring improved data integrity and enabling businesses to leverage this data to drive tangible business outcomes.

Ensuring a Culture of Integrity and Renee’s Vision for the Future of Zing Health

Renee’s vision for the future of Zing Health involves a deliberate and gradual expansion throughout the United States, with a dedicated focus on addressing the healthcare needs of historically underserved communities.

“Integrity is one of the company’s core values,” Renee states. It holds a central position within our code of conduct. At Zing Health, the staff takes diligent measures to acquaint all individuals representing the company with this code upon onboarding and revisit it annually. Integrity is deeply woven into our policies, procedures, and protocols. Their steadfast expectation is for every team member to exemplify integrity as a role model. Any departure from this standard is swiftly and comprehensively addressed.

Embarking on a Career Journey and Unconventional Leadership Recognition

Over a few decades ago, Renee embarked on her HR journey as a job analyst at a prominent governmental agency. In the first decade of her career, she assumed various roles encompassing compensation, pre-employment testing, recruitment, and labor relations, with each position serving as a vital building block of knowledge. Three decades on, she remains steadfast in her belief that, like the ever-evolving HR industry, continuous learning and adaptation are key to professional growth.

For Renee, the most meaningful recognition as a leader doesn’t fit the traditional mold. A few years back, she received a 360-degree feedback report, and as she delved into the results and the accompanying comments, she was deeply moved and flattered. What she considered routine acts of leadership, such as collaboration, attentive listening, mentoring, development of others, and a willingness to shoulder additional responsibilities, had left a profound and lasting impact on her peers, direct reports, and supervisor. These seemingly everyday actions turned out to hold immense significance for others. Though this report wasn’t a formal award or public accolade, Renee values it as the finest form of recognition for its authenticity and unfiltered feedback tailored to her professional growth.

Personal Goals as an HR Leader

Renee’s personal goals as an HR leader are twofold: firstly, to produce a comprehensive white paper that guides constructing effective HR infrastructures tailored to the specific requirements of small businesses and start-ups, and secondly, to increase awareness and adoption of workforce planning as a critical tool within these organizations. 

Work/Life Equilibrium

This seasoned executive acknowledges that “there’s no equal balance between professional and personal life.” To strike a harmonious balance between these two spheres, Renee adopts a method of organizing her obligations by assigning due dates on her calendar, which includes personal tasks. Above all, Renee prioritizes spending quality time with her family and is unafraid to ‘unplug’ from work. This practice extends to her employees, whom she actively encourages to follow suit, as it serves as a means of rejuvenation and motivation for all.

Message to Aspiring HR Professionals and Leaders

In her guidance to aspiring HR professionals and leaders, Renee underscores the importance of positioning oneself as a strategic business partner. This strategic role can be achieved through several best practices.

Firstly, she emphasizes the need to connect the proverbial HR dots, highlighting that while HR encompasses multiple functions and specializations, they are interconnected and not mutually exclusive. Thus, a comprehensive understanding of each specialization is essential to grasp how they influence one another. 

Secondly, Renee stresses the significance of not only possessing HR knowledge but also understanding the intricate fabric of the business itself, encompassing its structure, processes, services, and products. Such knowledge is crucial for aligning HR practices with the overarching goal of achieving desired business outcomes. 

Thirdly, she advocates for data-driven decision-making, utilizing HR data and analytics to gain insights into the workforce, informing decisions to enhance organizational performance and support strategic initiatives. Finally, Renee underscores the imperative of aligning people strategy with business strategy. This process involves identifying the HR components necessary to facilitate the desired business outcome, planning, implementation, assessment, and adaptation as needed. These practices, Renee suggests, are the stepping stones to not just an effective HR role but also a strategic partnership within the broader business landscape.

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