Pamela Ventura is on a mission—to make every one of Capital One’s 50,000 associates feel personally supported and empowered to live their best lives. As the head of benefits, she’s leading her team towards this goal by designing market-leading health, wealth, and well-being benefits that are all delivered through an amazing associate experience.
Ventura’s passion for her role comes from her nontraditional path to the HR world. According to her parents, Ventura knew she wanted to go to law school at a young age—younger than she can remember.
“It’s just what I always wanted. I remember knowing when I went off to college that I wanted to continue on to law school,” she says.
Ventura graduated with a degree in international studies and French from the University of Richmond in 1992 and earned her JD from Wake Forest three years later.
Initially attracted to employment law, she spent two years with the firm McGuireWoods before moving to an in-house legal role at Anthem in 1997. While at the health insurance provider, she was responsible for advising human resources professionals and managers on employment law matters.
“I really liked the company, but I was looking for something different,” she explains. Though she loved the intellectual aspect of law and the relationship building involved in advising clients, she felt she couldn’t effectuate change and see it through to a solution. So, she took on a new role that gave her that opportunity.
In 2006, Ventura made a full-time departure from the law and became Anthem’s director of human resources. In this role, she was tasked with developing a national wellness and health improvement strategy for associates and their families. She worked collaboratively on benefits design to ensure offerings were competitive, cost-effective, and compelling, while demonstrating the wellness program’s effectiveness and return on investment through comprehensive measurement strategy.
After more than twenty-two years with Anthem, Ventura was offered the role of head of benefits at Capital One.
“I had the opportunity over and over again at Anthem to influence change and drive a new strategy or approach, so I wasn’t really looking for a new role when I got the call from Capital One,” she clarifies. “What attracted me to coming here was the focus the human resources team had on the associate experience. They were shifting the thinking behind how HR is traditionally deliver—as a functional area—to be about the experience the associate has as a customer.”
Ventura saw a new opportunity to effect change and took the Capital One role.
At Capital One, Ventura is charged with all the benefits, not just healthcare. She has one team that supports global mobility and another that manages the marketing and associate experience for the company’s total rewards program.
“My experience at Anthem gave me an inside view of the complexity of the healthcare system, and that’s helped me in my role here,” she notes. “I’m now at an organization where I’ve been able to take a step back from the healthcare ecosystem and look at it from more of an outsider’s perspective. It’s been interesting to see the perspective of leaders from outside the healthcare space and understand in a different way the frustrations of how complex that system is to navigate.”
“We know that when someone feels healthy physically, emotionally, financially, socially, and has a sense of purpose, that’s when they can bring and express their full selves every day.”
Thinking back to her first objective with the company, Ventura shares it was simply understanding what the benefits offerings were and the role they played in the company’s broader talent strategy. She says she’s fortunate to have people with a lot of experience in the product development space on her team, which has helped her learn what her associate’s needs are and how the benefits are meeting—or not meeting—those needs.
“We have a really high satisfaction with our benefits, but we want to get underneath that and understand what things are working well and what’s not working well,” Ventura notes. “My first eighteen months have really been about shoring up any immediate gaps we’ve seen in our benefits offering and working with associates to figure out how to more easily navigate the benefits available to them.”
With the latter in mind, Ventura has been looking at solutions that simplify how associates interact with benefits, pivoting the focus to a more holistic well-being and showing that Capital One’s benefits work together to take care of the whole person.
“We’re designing our benefits program to support every aspect of our associates’ and their families’ total well-being,” Ventura says. “Because we know that when someone feels healthy physically, emotionally, financially, socially, and has a sense of purpose, that’s when they can bring and express their full selves every day. That sets our associates up to really make an impact on our company and our culture.”
This holistic approach has fed into 2020 strategies for the team, which include building out a financial well-being strategy that supports associates at all levels. “We know Capital One supports its consumers in the financial well-being space, so we just want to be sure our own associates feel the same level of care.”
Ventura’s team is also building out more of a segmentation strategy, to figure out how to make the benefits package they offer feel personally relevant to different segments of the associate population.
“Building personalized benefits packages is something that a lot of employers are talking about, but it hasn’t historically been easy to do,” Ventura says. “Capital One is really committed to taking care of our associates, and that’s my passion, too. The prospect of being able to support each associate on an individual level is really exciting. Because that’s really our goal—making sure every associate feels empowered to live their best life.”
Castlight is on a mission to help individuals live happier, healthier lives. Our health navigation platform connects hundreds of health vendors, benefits resources, and plan designs into one comprehensive benefits experience. We guide individuals to the best resources available to them—whether healthy, chronically ill, or seeking medical care.