NON-PROFIT – This spotlight series features T. Howard Foundation (THF) alumni working in the non-profit sector.
David Figueroa, Jr. (THF ‘08)
Please describe your role.
I’m a Senior Marketing Manager at Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plans. We are an integrated health care organization that partners our health plan, physicians, and hospitals and medical offices as one large system. In my role, I manage three teams in support of our organization’s goal to increase and retain membership across all audience segments while minimizing litigation risks: 1) legal and regulatory review of our marketing content, 2) internal communications for sales & account management, and 3) proposal content management.
What do you enjoy most about your company?
To me, the best part of working at Kaiser Permanente is our focus on our mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care to our members and the communities we serve. Often, large organizations have broad mission statements that state a noble cause, yet remain unfulfilled. I’m proud to say that isn’t the case for me. All of the work I’m asked to do continually goes to support our members living healthy lives and helping our communities thrive.
In what way did this type of work interest you and how did you get started?
My background before joining Kaiser Permanente was in practicing law. I was a litigator and did a mixture of civil, employment, entertainment and criminal defense for over five years before joining the non-profit realm. Although I loved what I did, I wanted to transition into work that supported my personal beliefs and had a broader effect on the community around me. I was already familiar with the organization and started to look for opportunities that were a good fit with my background. Transitioning from law to health care marketing isn’t exactly a seamless fit on paper, but I found the right opportunity and sold the organization on why the timing was right for me to shift gears professionally.
How has your affiliation with the T. Howard Foundation influenced your career?
I learned during my orientation with the T. Howard Foundation that there were a number of organizations in different industries that were honestly committed to building a pipeline and creating opportunities for diverse talent. I walked away inspired by the leaders I met and by the relationships I fostered with my fellow interns and T. Howard alumni along the way. I’ve committed myself to holding up these same ideals. A vast majority of the individuals I’ve personally hired or promoted since working full-time professionally have been individuals of diverse and underrepresented groups.
What personal attributes have been essential to your career success?
Intellectual curiosity has helped me grow the most. A lot of people are afraid to ask questions at work. I think that asking smart questions helps you look engaged, curious and open to learning new ways to grow. Learning new areas outside of my core function has allowed me to work on new projects and gain new skills that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to curate otherwise.
If you were entering this career today, how would you prepare to facilitate entry?
Every company has its own culture, policies and procedures. If I were brand new, I would attempt to meet as many people as possible in my first 3 months, ask a ton of questions and learn as much as I can about the culture. Understanding how work gets done, how decisions get made, and what has made others successful is key to unlocking how you might also demonstrate success as you grow in a new role.
Do you perform your work in a cubicle, office or open workspace? Please describe what’s on your desk at this moment.
I have an office, but with the pandemic my whole building has been working remotely. I think our plan is to continue working remotely at least until 2021. In my work office I have a standing desk – which helps encourage me (and our other works) to find ways to move around and not be sedentary during the day. At my home office, I have a laptop, second monitor, external keyboard, mouse and a whiteboard. Those are the basics I need to track my work and be effective.
In one sentence please describe what work/life balance means to you.
Work/life balance means taking your days off and finding the time to rest!
How do you re-charge at work?
At work, I like to take what we call “thrive” breaks. That could be converting an in-person meeting in my office to a walking meeting, or taking a phone call while walking around campus. I also try to make sure I actually take a lunch break (and not eat at my desk). I’m not great at it, but finding time to step away from my desk and clear my head always helps me be more effective.