Born in Mississippi but spending most of her childhood in Los Angeles and St. Louis, Zundra Bryant relocated to the East Coast to study actuarial science at Washington, DC’s Howard University. Her career then took her to work for companies like MasterCard and Ernst & Young.
“I married my high school sweetheart and came back to St. Louis in 1998,” she shares. “I was at MasterCard for twelve years prior to joining Centene [in 2019.]”
During her time at MasterCard, Bryant worked in several positions and ultimately landing in the Global Business Service Center, where she was instrumental in expanding HR and finance shared services across the globe. “I really enjoyed that experience, learning more in depth about human resource processes, leading global initiatives to streamline services and figuring out the nuances for each region,” she recounts. “Through that experience, I expanded my leadership contributions and increased my international business intelligence.”
In 2019, Centene was looking for someone with Bryant’s skills and experience, and her background made her a perfect fit for the company. She’s risen quickly through the organization starting as a director and now serving as vice president of HR operations, handling both employee services and HR technology responsibilities.
In her role, she leads multiple services, including the HR service center which includes employee relations intake, payroll Tier 1, proof of vaccination validation, unemployment claims processing, interview scheduling, temporary-to-permanent conversion services, and HR digital services responsible for providing innovative HR technology solutions.
Modernizing the HR service center staffing model to provide a better experience for employees and call center HR reps was a key leadership priority for Zundra Bryant.
“We implemented a hybrid staffing model partnering with an external agency to give us the flexibility to adjust our staffing needs based on demand,” Bryant notes. “We now can reduce the amount of stress on our HR reps, and increase service levels to our employees. That was a game changer, especially address challenges and new responsibilities brought on by the pandemic.”
She was also instrumental in creating an “Operational Excellence” framework, which includes performance measures that provides insights about the health of HR Operations and articulates its value to Centene.
“We leveraged industry best practices and built team dashboards measuring five key elements and my managers have valuable data at their fingertips to help them be more responsive to daily work demands and monitor staff productivity,” Bryant explains. “I’ve been able to leverage metrics and tangible results to increase investments in HR operations.”
Bryant leads a hybrid team of nearly one hundred and believes in a collaborative approach to success.
“I’m always challenging my team to think bigger, broader, and more strategically and they are doing a phenomenal job,” Bryant says. “If the people on your team aren’t engaged in a significant way that’s meaningful to them as an individual, you run the risk of jeopardizing future successes for your organization. So, [building] an inclusive culture, fostering trust, and cultivating positive energy is something that is a top priority for me.”
“ I work hard to provide a space that values each individual with a distinctive brand that attracts top talent,” she says. “I stay active in the DEI landscape and discussions. I’ve experienced it and been transparent about my journey and how it’s affected me and my family, and it’s helped cultivate some great relationships and dialogue here at Centene.”
One of Bryant’s biggest passions is serving her community. “Since high school, I’ve been involved in efforts to advocate for equality and shared representation for women, African Americans, and other professionals with diverse backgrounds,” she enthuses. “It’s something that has been a consistent thread throughout my life and has manifested itself in many ways over the years.”
For instance, Zundra Bryant serves on three boards: the YWCA of Metro St. Louis, which works to empower women and eliminate racism; Arch Grants, which helps those in her city advance economic development through entrepreneurship; and the St. Louis Forum, which supports the advancement of women executives. She also helped start the St Louis Business Diversity Initiative Fellows program.
“There’s other professional affiliations I participate in as well that gives me an opportunity to invest in myself and my personal growth,” she shares. “Despite being uber, ultra-professional, I do have a lot of fun and dedicate time to personal care. Work is important, but it’s not everything.
Lee Hecht Harrison: Specializing in Career Advisory for Senior Leaders
The International Center for Executive Options (ICEO) delivers bespoke career advisory services for sitting and transitioning senior leaders. We partner with senior leaders, companies, and boards to navigate critical personal and organizational decisions and the complex challenges associated with leadership transitions and executive careers.
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