How do you change careers and industries, even during a pandemic? Susan Rider shows a way

Susan rider

Shortly after Susan Rider got married around the age of 24, tragedy struck. A healthcare worker by day, she found herself on the operating table for a spinal fusion. This procedure reduces back pain and prevents any movement between vertebrae. It also comes with a fifteen-week recovery.

Connect with Susan on LinkedIn

Susan’s NAHU Accomplishments:

  • Local past president
  • State past president
  • State Legislavtive committee member and will be ISAHU legislative chair 7/1
  • Public-Private Cessation Partnership highlights [PDF]
  • Distinguished Service Award
  • Presidential Citation
  • Speakers Bureau
  • Certification Course Instructor
  • National Roles: past Young Agent (YAHU) chair, Media chair and will be the Professional Development chair 7/1.

No longer able to perform her job, Rider contemplated her next move. She went back to school, working entry-level jobs during the day and studying at IUPUI at night. “I kept steering toward HR classes for electives,” she recalls. By the end, she graduated with a Bachelor’s in General Studies and an HR Certification. 

“Then in what I call my ‘insurance coffee break’,” she says, “I met Mike Quigley, who worked in the Employee Benefits division at Great West Healthcare before moving to a retirement carrier.” The two met through a mutual connection, and Rider spent nine months there under a myriad of job titles until the company reduced their workforce. “Mike decided to leave, but just before that there was a period where it was just the two of us in a 3,000 square foot office space.”

Rider bounced to a small insurance agency that got bought by a bank, “And I didn’t want to work for a bank.” As her career shifted, so did her network. She started meeting people through Health Underwriters during this time. And those new connections would make her career snap into place.

A member of IndyAHU since 2003, Rider rose through the ranks with the help of members like Anita Strauss and Mandy Ramsey. Rider served on committees and was elected the Association’s President. During her term, she met Sheri Alexander from Gregory and Appel. “We got to know each other really well and she offered me a position,” Rider says. She spent twelve years there, starting as an account manager and moving into a consulting role. She earned her Masters in Strategic Leadership Design in 2015, which she knew would prepare her for a career in operations or as a COO.

Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Rider has made another industry-shift and career move to Preventia Group, a small startup aimed at preventative care through healthier lifestyles and diet. They bring behavioral health coaching together with clinically-tailored meals. The result is fewer admissions and lower benefit costs.

Susan Rider with Dwight “D” Hall (left) and David Berman

“I think things come from your network. This was not a role I applied for. This was a situation where a founder and friend of mine talked about what they needed, and my friend suggested me. So we had a conversation and in the middle of COVID-19 I left a role and started a new position in a new capacity and industry,” she says. Rider also teaches Organizational Leadership Studies at IUPUI and Compensation and Benefits at the University of Indianapolis, in addition to leading several CE programs at past regional conferences.

“Through each step, the most constant thing has been my NAHU family,” Rider says. “Anita Strauss was one of the first people to take a chance to put me on her [IndyAHU] board. She gave me assignments that stretched me and helped me see what I was capable of, because when I first started the Association in 2003 I didn’t have the self-confidence that would have gotten me on track.” She adds, “Jennifer Revell, David Berman, Dwight Hall, Nicole Fairbairn, and Jennifer Mitchen have been there with me since the beginning.  We have laughed, cried, and shared many life moments with one another – they are part of my extended family.”

From left to right, Pat Griffey, Nicole Fairbairn, Susan Rider, and Carolyn Beck

At the time, IndyAHU’s annual Sales Congress event was a large undertaking in volunteer time. “Anita and Mandy Ramsey helped build the framework for what that event should look like,” recalls Rider. She credits them for introducing her to healthcare CEOs and decision-makers, developing her ability to ask for sponsorship money, and more.

“One of the most exciting ways I was stretched in my year as President was the creation of a strategic partnership that was a partnership of public and private entities around tobacco cessation,” says Rider. With IndyAHU and Rider in the lead, Pfizer pharmaceuticals as a key sponsor, and support from the Indiana State Department of Insurance and the Department of Health, what is now the Indiana Smoking Quit Line was born.

The announcement of 1-800-QUIT-NOW resulted in press conferences with TV, radio, and newspaper reporters. NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein flew to Indianapolis to take part. “It was something that happened jointly that helped elevate it to the next level,” says Rider. It also elevated her standing with Health Underwriters. As impact goes, the CDC estimates over 16 million Americans have at least one disease caused by smoking. This amounts to $170 billion in direct medical costs that could be saved every year if we could prevent youth from starting to smoke and help every person who smokes to quit.

I believe in giving back to the community and I do this by teaching the next generation of HR professionals and through volunteerism in the community.  I am a certified mentor through Pass The Torch.

In 2010, NAHU flew Rider to Washington to film a smoking cessation video. Ten years later this July, she’ll become NAHU’s Professional Development Chair. And in the last few weeks, Rider was appointed to the Governor’s CE Advisory Council for a three-year term.  

“It’s the authentic relationships across the country that keep me motivated,” says Rider about her membership with Health Underwriters. “As an example, for the last month, I have been participating in virtual happy hours with members from coast to coast. We lift each other up and are able to share our thoughts candidly with one another in a safe, non-judgmental format.”

Rider says she always tries to be thoughtful about organizations she participates with. Making sure they’re mutually beneficial for her professionally or her ability to help build revenue growth for both entities. Her time with Health Underwriters, she says, “Is all a lot of work,” but, “You do a project, and if you execute it in a well-thought manner that leads to something else.” 


IndyAHU is a partner of ISAHU

2020 NAHU Website award winner

IndyAHU is a partner of NAHU

NAHU represents more than 100,000 licensed health insurance agents, brokers, general agents, consultants and benefit professionals through more than 200 chapters across America.