Masud Mahdi Talks DEI During AAPI Heritage Month
During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, Centene is spotlighting AAPI employees and leaders. Masud Mahdi joined Fidelis Care in 2013 as a Project Manager. He assumed the Corporate Centene role of Vice President of Market Strategy & Operations in 2021. He is also a member of Centene’s Executive Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Council and the People with Disabilities & Caregivers Employee Inclusion Group ABILITY.
In the following Q&A, Masud discusses his role, the importance of technology to enhancing health outcomes of members, and Centene’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Q. Tell us about your background, your career at Centene, and your current role as Vice President, Market Strategy & Operations?
A. I have been with the Centene organization for almost nine years, eight of those at Fidelis Care. With a background in technology, consulting, and process improvement, I joined Fidelis Care as a Project Manager in 2013. I took on roles of increasing responsibility over the next several years, including Director of Medicare Stars — leading Fidelis to achieve its first Medicare 4-star rating – and Vice President of Operations — successfully integrating both Fidelis Care into Centene and WellCare New York into Fidelis.
In August 2021, I moved from the health plan to Corporate and assumed my current role as Vice President, Market Strategy & Operations. The Market Strategy and Operations team aims to increase collaboration, ensure accountability, maximize alignment, and simplify communication between health plans and corporate shared services.
I also am a member of Centene’s Executive DEI Council and was a founding member of the Fidelis Care Diversity & Inclusion Council.
Q. What is the most meaningful part of your job?
A. My role involves driving changes that impact all Centene health plans. Knowing that what I do impacts our 26 million members is very meaningful and humbling. Each member is an individual, a family member, a community worker — someone working hard to achieve their dreams. With this in mind, I’m always determined to ensure we do the right thing every time to deliver quality healthcare.
Q. Who influenced you most during your career and why?
A. From a personal perspective, it’s my father. As a career diplomat for Pakistan, he seamlessly adapted to constantly changing situations throughout his career. He approached everyone with the same level of respect and attention, whether they were world leaders or the building staff. His work ethic and discipline were key to the excellence he demonstrated and his determination in the face of challenges has been exemplary. Despite a very busy career, he always found time for his family, from taking us to Saturday swimming lessons to showing us the world.
From a professional perspective, it’s the combined Fidelis Care Executive Leadership — 2013 to 2019 — of Father Frawley, David Thomas, and Tom Halloran. Their unwavering focus on the needs of our members left an indelible impression on me. Each of them demonstrated a level of humility I had not seen in leadership throughout my career. They also instilled in everyone the necessity and importance of adapting to change and this helped enable Fidelis to successfully integrate into the Centene family.
Both these influences have impacted me in similar ways, and I seek to incorporate what I have learned from them every day, especially along the lines of humility, discipline, and the ability to adapt.
Q. How is Centene’s approach to DEI different from other companies?
A. The engagement of leadership in DEI matters sets Centene apart. Leaders are actively focused on DEI in every aspect of the business, whether it involves our customers, our employees, our communities, or our partners. Leaders go through very effective interactive workshops to expand their DEI knowledge, to understand the lived experiences of people from all backgrounds, and to enhance their own approach to address DEI challenges. Leaders also encourage their employees to be open and honest about their questions, experiences, and concerns related to DEI.
Q. Tell us about why you became involved with the ABILITY Employee Inclusion Group?
A. Throughout my career, I have worked with a very diverse set of peers from a race, gender, and sexuality perspective. However, I have had limited opportunity to work with peers who are living with a disability. Being involved in ABILITY expands my understanding of the challenges of those living with a disability and helps me learn about the actions and innovations that help create a more inclusive and accommodating environment.
Q. Can you talk about the importance of technology to enhance care to our members and the communities we serve?
A. As a Managed Care Organization (MCO), we aim to manage care for our members to ensure healthier lives and better outcomes. We rely heavily on technology to enable this. Internally, we use various tools to analyze member and provider data to help us understand our members’ care needs, and use this analysis to tailor programs and interventions that are directly relevant to our members. With such a large percentage of the population using smart phones, and with the increased adoption of technology during the pandemic, we are able to deliver the programs and interventions in a more effective and efficient manner.
Q. What are your thoughts on the significance of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
A. Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month helps people expand their understanding of the diversity within Asia and the Pacific Islands, an area which includes 1.5 billion people in South Asia. It also gives the opportunity to highlight the contributions of those with South Asian heritage to this country.