Meet Serena Bertola, the Vice President of Delivery Success. She’s focused on (or should we say, obsessed with) customer success.
With over a decade in the healthcare industry, ranging from Care Management & Population Health to Business Process Re-engineering (BRP), Serena has the technical and industry chops to make Zyter|TruCare’s clients successful.
Born and raised in Italy, Serena attended the Politecnico di Torino, graduating with a Business Degree focusing on IT Systems Development and Business Organization Engineering. In 2010, Serena made a 6,000-kilometer leap to Massachusetts for her master’s in innovation and technological entrepreneurship at Umass Lowell (Go River Hawks!).
Since 2012, Serena has been a rising star at Zyter|TruCare. She leads our Delivery Success teams, dedicated to implementing our software and helping clients thrive in population health management and virtual care delivery. Serena is a recipient of our coveted “Exceptional Contribution Award” and is recognized by her colleagues as a clever technical strategist and a results-driven leader.
A Brilliant Mind and Courageous Spirit Pave the Way
Serena came to the US in 2010, never having worked here or studied English. Reflecting on her journey, she was pleasantly surprised by her accomplishments. “Having to think and speak a different language daily, learning new things, and adjusting to a new culture was a lot to handle. Everything together was a great experience, though. It tested my mettle and made me see what I could do.” In the face of adversity, Serena flourished and set an example for others. She ultimately became the first international student to graduate from the program at Umass Lowell and the first recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year Award.
The program piqued Serena’s interest for many reasons. She wanted to explore questions like: “How do businesses generate new ideas? How do businesses leverage opportunities that present themselves? How can I use my skills to create something new or improve existing systems?” This type of “beginner’s mind” would follow Serena everywhere.
While matriculating at graduate school, Serena relished working as a business analyst and research assistant at Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2). ”What was really great was that they allowed me to put into practice everything that I was learning during my program and work with startups that were fantastic innovators and also work with executives at a pretty high level.”
After two years at M2D2, Zyter|TruCare was her next destination. “Starting in a business analyst role gives you a great opportunity to become an expert in the software. It also gives you insight into the real-life business needs of the nurses, the determinators, and the teams at the health plan. You also learn the regulations that they need to comply with.”
Solving problems within organizations has always appealed to Serena. So, here again, she asked strategic questions like, “What are the needs we are trying to solve for patients? What are the jobs to be done for providers? How does this tie back to the goals of the health plan?” By looking at implementations this way, Serena and the team have become advocates for our clients and key advisors to our product and engineering teams. “My colleagues were coming to my team to understand more of how the product is being used in real-life and within our clients’ organizations, so they wanted to start developing these functions, which would also allow me to get exposure to how other teams are operating and how we can best support what they’re doing across the board.”
This exposure to other roles in Zyter|TruCare allowed Serena to grow her career and take on more responsibility within the organization. “It gave a purpose to our work, seeing that it impacted real people at the end of the day. Millions of members are being managed using our application. We had the opportunity to improve the health of the Community one member at a time.”
Serena was promoted multiple times over five years, and the world blossomed around her. Before her 30th birthday, she was promoted to Director of Business Analysis in 2017. By 2021, she had three more promotions and was the Associate Vice President of Implementation Services. “I worked hard for it, for sure, but I also appreciated having that recognition. I always fought hard for my team, ensuring they also got their deserved recognition. It was also a reflection of the effort that I put into them.”
Her impact continues to expand. As a result, Serena was recently promoted to VP of Delivery Success. Her new goal is to broaden the scope of the professional services organization to ensure customers are fully enabled to succeed.
An Insatiable Curiosity Drives the Right Solutions
Serena is relentless about asking the right questions – she always wants to understand more. “Some people can find it annoying, but it’s always worked for me.” Her competitive edge pushes her to seek new answers and apply that knowledge to her work and career. She constantly wonders, “What moves the needle? What can be done in a better way?”
“I tend to latch on to what people say, whether one word or a sentence. I try to understand why they are asking the question. I always want to get to the next layer, so I do not stop and take something at face value. Usually, the more you dig, the more you find, so there is always a story behind why people are asking the question in the first place.”
Serena’s Strategies for Leadership
Competitive, Analytical, and Resolute are three words that perfectly describe Serena’s attributes. These attributes incentivize those around her to succeed. “I would say that I strive to lead by example,” she says.
Because of her background, she knows her direct reports’ challenges. However, she also knows the opportunities available to them when they succeed. “If I expect them to do something, I expect myself to act in the same way. We all play by the same rules.”
Apart from being a role model, Serena’s leadership philosophy sees knowledge as power. “If people know why certain things have been asked, they will perform better. Not just giving orders, but explaining why things are being done.” A great strength Serena brings to the leadership team is guiding individuals and groups to deliver their best and see the broader vision by picking apart the details.
Recognition of growth is also a considerable part of Serena’s leadership style. Her attention to detail helps her find and refine areas for improvement. “I tried to create a culture where everyone is appreciated and takes the time to go back and recognize extraordinary or small improvement efforts. But if someone was struggling and could take a step forward, that should be recognized because it’s an achievement in the right direction. Even a little step helps you get to the next level.”
Of course, the best way to help her team make these improvements is to get to know them personally. “I want to know what they’re going through. I want to know how to help them do their best and what motivates them. And help them find their purpose in their actions, which I think is more rewarding for them.”
From Personal Expression Comes Organizational Growth
Zyter|TruCare has always allowed Serena to express herself and her ideas. With each new concept she presents, her colleagues trust her expertise to recognize opportunities. In addition, she says this environment is the perfect place to apply her innovative and technological background since it gives her the freedom to implement her ideas. ”Having the ability to impact the work that gets done and the ideas of what gets implemented is something that has always appealed to me; it’s allowed me to realize that my ideas were appreciated and see the recognition from other people in my work which is a big confidence booster.”
Compared to how Serena has seen women in the workplace treated in her home country, she has seen her success burgeon without the hindrance of ingrained misogyny. “There is still that substandard where women will not get the best opportunities because they will get pregnant at a certain age and disappear for several months. But, at Zyter|TruCare, I never felt that being a woman was going to get in my way. And I never felt I was treated differently because I was a woman.”
The organization and its leadership proved to Serena time and time again that she received opportunities and promotions because she deserved them. “Through the years, I tended to believe that I always had to rely on someone else because I came from a mentality that I was a foreign person coming to a new continent. But seeing that recognition and people appreciating my ideas and investing their time in my career – and putting opportunities in front of me that I could benefit from – helped me understand my worth and made me more confident for my future.”
How Zyter|TruCare Addresses Work-Life Balance
McKinsey & Company in 2021 said that “14% of women compared to 6% of men report often or almost always worrying about being negatively judged at work because of their caregiving responsibilities.” This worry is stacked on top of women’s competing challenges when balancing being a mother and having a career. It often means they miss promotion opportunities and feel split between work and familial responsibilities. Serena was not alone in her struggle when she became a parent and faced new challenges through pregnancy and maternity leave.
“Having to physically separate from my work which used to be my whole life for many years, I invested a lot of time and energy into this company, and I loved every minute. But now I had to detach for a while.” The leadership and her team stepped in to ensure everything would be handled while she was away. Due to her investment in her team’s training, she knew they were ready to take on challenges without her. The support the company showed was beyond her expectations. “Some team members unexpectedly flew in for my baby shower, which was great. It’s just a great company to work for.”
Serena on Her Achievements and Advice
“I was always fascinated by people that were able to study abroad and see new places and cultures, but I did not grow up thinking I would move to a new country so far from home. When I was young, and my sister married, she moved to a different neighborhood. It was a shock for my whole family. We’re all used to living within a block of each other and so thinking that I would end up so far away from everyone in a leadership role, speaking a language that is not my own, and building a life and a career in a different country is not something that I thought I could achieve. I’m proud of my achievements. I never thought I would become a director before I even turned 30. I’m now a VP and about to turn 35.”
“My advice to you is, don’t limit your dreams, work hard, show initiative, invest in yourself and recognition will come!”
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