A pharmacist by training and a leader by choice, Cigna's Everett Neville’s career path has certainly not been linear – and he’s grateful for that.
Growing up on the North Carolina coast, Neville spent most of his childhood fostering the hobbies he maintains to this day: spending time outdoors, fishing, and hiking. He attended the University of North Carolina for his undergraduate and pharmacy degrees, and he began his career there in the clinical pharmacy world.
He followed his interests and strengths, which led him to Express Scripts 23 years ago, eventually leaving the clinical space and joining the executive leadership team, where he has remained ever since. Express Scripts is part of Evernorth, Cigna Corporation's health services business.
The Cigna Newsroom team recently sat down with Neville to discuss his career journey, the dynamic health care landscape, the key to great negotiation, and much more. Some of the highlights are below.
On His Career Path: Following Your Strengths
Working as a clinical pharmacist early in his career, he quickly came to realize his passions lay elsewhere. Critical career advice from his mentors gave him the push to make a change.
“About five years into my career, an older colleague of mine knew I wasn’t really happy in the clinical pharmacy world,” Neville said. “He told me while I was becoming good at it, you really don’t want to spend your time and energy becoming good at something you don’t want to do.”
Deciding to change directions, Neville leaned into his assets: “My manager at the time encouraged me to focus on my strengths. She told me, ‘the strengths are what got you here, and those are what will take you to the next level. It’s not the weaknesses you need to worry about, it is how you make the strengths as strong as possible.’”
On Health Care and Negotiation
Upon leaving the clinical pharmacy space, Neville leaned into his aptitude for business and negotiation.Citing the negotiations for the Hepatitis C deal in 2014 as one of the highlights of his career, Neville reflected on the impact: “We saved the health care industry, the American people, billions of dollars, which is quite remarkable.”
However, the key to a successful negotiation, according to Neville, is found in the details and the teamwork: “Most deals are won or lost in the details,” Neville said. “If you don’t know the details of the deal, make sure your team does. I can’t say enough of the confidence in the team I have now in this deal space.”
In the dynamic, ever-changing world of health care, Neville says that our focus at Cigna has remained steadfast: “Throughout the 20+ years I’ve been involved with health care, our priorities of solving problems and trying to improve health care and outcomes has remained consistent.”
Remaining Resilient Through Tough Times
The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked the health care industry and the world as a whole. In dealing with tough times personally, Neville likes to get back to his roots and spend time outdoors, whether that’s hiking, skiing, or mountain biking. On a more macro level, Neville insists that we are a resilient species that will persist through these difficult times – “We will make it through this, we always find our way forward."
As a history buff, Neville tends to look at the world through the greater context of our past. “At almost every point in history, we think we’re different than the people before us. We think we’re smarter, we know more, we act differently,” he said. “The reality is, whether it’s ancient Greece or the year 1725, people are people, and we are driven pretty much by the same motivations. Humanity has survived dark times before, and we’re a tough group of people who get tougher with every generation.”
- Favorite historic sites? Gettysburg and Waterloo
- Favorite food? Pizza
- Favorite drink? Negroni
- Favorite vacation spot? Paris
- Favorite types of music? Country, rock, and jazz
- Favorite authors? Agatha Christie and Bernard Cornwell
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