Mark Pawlak Makes People Part of his Routine

Chief People Officer Mark Pawlak on how building a values-driven environment for employees creates a sense of purpose and belonging at ConnectiveRx

Photos by Aundre Larrow

For Mark Pawlak, ConnectiveRx had him at “hello.” Prior to joining ConnectiveRx, a pharmaceutical services company that provides technology-enabled patient access and support solutions, Pawlak’s legal and human resources career was rooted in global consumer brands and he was ready for a new challenge. “At that point, I was contemplating taking a break, but ConnectiveRx reached out and it quickly became an organization with a mission and vision that I became very personally invested in,” Pawlak states.

He attributes this attraction to the values-driven, people-focused culture that ConnectiveRx has built in addition to its unique role in healthcare, helping patients access, afford, and adhere to complex medications. Now, as the company’s chief people officer, Pawlak plays an integral role in both shaping this workplace culture and aligning it with the overall business.

“At ConnectiveRx, our people are what differentiate us, and we understand the importance of providing a superior experience to them in addition to our customers, patients, and healthcare providers. Our team and their success drive the success of our business and growth,” he explains.

mark pawlak
Mark Pawlak, Chief People Officer, ConnectiveRxPhotos by Aundre Larrow

For Pawlak, working at ConnectiveRx and helping patients is “incredibly gratifying” and a natural extension of who he is and what he has done over the length of his professional career. Pawlak “grew up” in his family’s restaurant, where personal service to customers was a hallmark. When Pawlak started law school, he focused his studies on employment and labor law. After graduating from Cornell with a master’s degree, he began his work as an employment litigator, but something about litigating didn’t sit quite right with him.

“I found that too many times, both parties weren’t happy with the outcomes. Even if my client won, they weren’t particularly happy,” he says. So Pawlak made the jump to working as an in-house attorney. “I really enjoyed the in-house role; it was much more proactive,” he recalls.

It was while working in-house that Pawlak became deeply embedded with HR. He began his in-house run at Philips Electronics, where he gained knowledge and experience that allowed him to best support HR teams. “I had a tremendous boss at Philips. She really taught me how to listen and to be a good business partner,” Pawlak says. The lessons learned at Philips carried over into his following role at Revlon, where he developed from attorney to senior vice president of human resources.

Success as an HR leader stems from malleability and the desire to understand how others operate best. Pawlak believes that his prior roles equipped him with these distinct qualities. “There were a lot of lessons learned on how to work with different people, different cultures, and different outlooks, but it all comes down to being a good listener and collaborator,” he says.

In 2018, Pawlak brought his qualities and experience to ConnectiveRx. In his current role, Pawlak’s top priority is to develop the company as a destination for top talent. To do that, he focuses on creating a values-driven environment that both new and current employees can organically and meaningfully connect with, while also building high-achieving teams and retaining an entrepreneurial spirit.

“We want our values to be true to who we are and evident in all that we do, from the policies that we roll out to the way that we recruit—it’s a universal approach that impacts all of our teammates.”

“We want our values to be true to who we are and evident in all that we do, from the policies that we roll out to the way that we recruit—it’s a universal approach that impacts all of our teammates,” Pawlak states. He believes that his team’s value and attitudes are strengthened by ConnectiveRx’s six pillars: “We are customer and patient centric, we are compassionate, we are collaborative, we are innovative, we are accountable, and lastly, we are cultivators of talent.”

When it comes to recruiting top talent, which is paramount to any organization, Pawlak’s strategy lies in creating a routine, daily approach.

“We have to create meaning for our employees every day. We are asking our teammates to invest their time and dedication to ConnectiveRx, so it’s our duty to create a workplace that provides them with meaning: one where they feel their work is truly connected to our mission, where they want to come every day and be their best selves,” he says.

mark pawlak
Photos by Aundre Larrow

Since Pawlak’s arrival, ConnectiveRx has rolled out its maternity, paternity, and caregiver leave policy that provides employees full pay to care for and bond with their newly born or adopted child, or to care for a family member who is sick. He has also established a dedicated learning and development team to help the company cultivate its internal talent. “It’s these types of initiatives that help bring us together as one ConnectiveRx and develop an environment everyone is proud of.”

In creating meaningful environs, Pawlak hopes that this positive dynamic is evident to current employees, customers, patients, and prospective candidates alike. So far, for ConnectiveRx, this has proven to be a successful method. “It has paid dividends with our success over the past two years and the growth of our headcount. And it is not just in the quantity of our headcount, but also the quality—we’re extremely proud of our new teammates and their ability to make an immediate impact,” Pawlak maintains.

But beyond recruiting dedicated employees, Pawlak desires to drive his focus on the human element of HR to demonstrate to customers that their patients are ConnectiveRx’s main priority and concern. “The patient experience is core to everything that we do,” Pawlak explains.

“Our team is often dealing directly with patients who are suffering from chronic illness,” he continues. “And while we leverage technology to help accelerate speed-to-therapy so patients can start their medications quickly and easily, the biggest impact we make is providing compassionate, person-to-person support that helps patients navigate an often confusing and scary situation. This compassion starts with HR setting the tone for the entire organization.”

“I’m very proud of our HR team and how we strike that balance,” he says. “We have a really special group of people, who genuinely care about the well-being of all our teammates as well as our customers and their patients.”

ConnectiveRx against COVID-19

As Told By Mark Pawlak

We are, at heart, a nimble and flexible organization. We began planning in February, and as conditions and guidance accelerated, so did we. We were well-equipped to rapidly move our entire team to remote work thanks to our infrastructure and distributed workforce across our multiple locations. Our goal then was to keep everyone informed and connected for the long-haul.

We leveraged multiple channels to frequently communicate to the organization and to our customers to ensure the transition felt controlled, purposeful, and as seamless as possible. Once our team was successfully working in a remote capacity, we shifted our focus to employee support and engagement. We quickly launched our Employee Support Program, which provides resources to our organization from successful remote work habits and financial health tips, to some of the tougher topics like mental health and managing the loss of a loved one.

It was critical for our organization to recognize the changing landscape of our teams’ work/life balance and address some of the challenges head on by implementing “no meeting hours,” as well as guided meditation and mindfulness strategies to help people manage their stress levels.  At the end of the day, we did a remarkable job—during this unprecedented situation, ConnectiveRx has maintained our outstanding support levels to our customers and patients by taking care of our team.