Prue Lotharius, WPS Health Solutions

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Prue Lotharius, director, marketing and communications, WPS Health Solutions.

1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging aspect of my job is dispelling the perception that people often have about marketing, that we’re a fun group of people who make pretty pictures and spend a lot of money. Yes, we do all that, but we also directly impact sales by our support of business projects and help drive overall revenue with our data-driven campaigns. The most rewarding aspect of my job ties into the most challenging aspect because when I present campaign plans, execute them, and then present results using hard data, I can see the moment when people recognize what good marketing and communications can do for an organization.

 2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I have a few mentors but one stands out because she is local, female, and has broken the glass ceiling a few times in the business world. Chris Kenyon, an executive sales leader at M3 Insurance, was the first supervisor I had immediately following undergrad. She pushed me hard and expected the best. I was pretty much afraid of her my first six months on the job but she instilled a solid work ethic in me that has only strengthened over the years. We have kept in touch and it seems that just when she cannot accomplish any more, she grows her book of business again, hires additional staff, takes on new work … I honestly can’t keep up with her, but I admire her strength and perseverance in a historically male-dominated industry. I hope to be as successful as Chris both personally and professionally.

3. What has been the high point of your career so far?

My position at Aetna was the first time I was able to bring the elements of marketing together — conceptualizing, plan development, presenting, executing, measuring, adjusting, etc. — and after the initial few times of doing this, I proposed a campaign to my manager involving a business print publication and targeting insurance agents with very specific messaging and touch points. The campaign cost $40,000 and grossed over $1.2M in profit. This analysis was based on the sales changes for the targeted agents year over year. At that moment I thought, “Hey, I can do this!” and it’s easy to say that was my jumping off point and my job has become more and more exciting.

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4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Start a personal business/career plan immediately and get in the habit of checking back with yourself and your plan. Update it and continually measure yourself against it. It’s so easy to get complacent and settle for good when you know you want great. Having a personal business plan and sticking to it is difficult, but it will keep you from straying and procrastinating and will get you where you want to be so much faster and smoother.

5. What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

This is easy. I grew up in Madison but I knew I needed to get out for a while; I had that itch that I think a lot young professionals have, so I purposely applied to graduate programs only out east. When I was 23 my new husband and I ventured off to Syracuse, NY, where I received my MBA from SU, and then we moved to Hartford, CT, for our jobs. When we had our first daughter we realized that growing up on the East coast is completely different than the Midwest. Not only were we familiar with the Midwest but we also really enjoyed and appreciated our upbringings. When we were about to have our second daughter we immediately made plans to move back to Dane County to raise our girls. We enjoyed our time away from home but everything from farmer’s markets to the swimming in the lakes to the liberalness of Dane County makes this the place where we belong. From a work perspective it’s nice to be able to leave before it’s completely dark. The work ethic is strong but the family-work life balance is stronger, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

6. Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I’m a whiz at math, specifically Algebra. I love it and I have no idea why. It always came naturally to me and I still find myself turning problems into algebra equations to solve, which probably makes the problem far more difficult than it needs to be but makes solving it more fun!

7. What are your guilty pleasures?

Twilight. I was team Jacob. When I have a day to myself I will watch the entire series from start to finish and love every minute of it, even though I’ve seen the movies many, many times. When the fifth and final movie came out I stood in line for an hour with a bunch of teenyboppers to see the movie. I couldn’t get anyone to go with me so I saw the movie alone; however, there were a few other women I spotted in the same boat as me, so I didn’t feel too bad.

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