Deb Steele: Cooperative Finance Wizard
Deb Steele, Director of Operations at National CooperativeRx, has the distinction of being the very first employee at the company. She oversees Cooperative financials, the Customer Relationship Management database and is known by members as “the rebate person.” I recently sat down with Deb to learn more about the value she brings to the Cooperative.
Tell me about the beginning of National CooperativeRx.
I came from a strong financial background, having previously worked for the Legislative Fiscal Bureau here in Madison. In 2004, an industry friend approached me to work for a start-up company, which was then called WisconsinRx. We started out in an incubator office and moved to our own office space three years later.
The Cooperative now has almost 300,000 covered lives. What do you think factored into this expansion?
First and foremost, our staff is extremely talented; we pride ourselves on excellent customer service and clinical expertise. I feel our growth really happened when we expanded our membership outside Wisconsin and gained the attention of national brokers. We’re regarded as an expert resource because although we’re not a pharmacy benefit manager, we know the business inside and out.
What motivates you every day at work?
The interaction with our members. My job is to make sure they receive their patronage and rebate checks in a timely manner and guarantee they get the highest savings possible. Also, my relationships with co-workers. We employ an awesome group of people!
Why have you stayed with the company for so long?
As the first employee on the payroll, I do feel a sense of loyalty to the Cooperative. I can’t imagine not working here and continue being a part of its success. It also helps I’m very passionate about our mission; the pharmaceutical industry is so complex that it’s crucial for our members to have someone watching out for their pharmacy benefit dollars. We’re promoting such a positive message — help employers save money and keep their workforce healthy.
When you’re not crunching numbers, what do you enjoy doing?
I love to do anything outdoors — bike, golf, camp, spend time on our boat and play volleyball. I’m also a huge Packers fan and my husband, Al, is a Vikings fan, so we try to attend the rivalry game every year. In fact, we’re such big fans that we got married in our team jerseys!
Click here to see Deb’s wedding picture and one of the longest bike rides she’s ever completed!