What do healthcare innovation and roller derby have in common? Molly Moore
If you’ve driven the streets of Seattle, browsed an Alaska Airlines magazine or spent time on the Internet lately, you may already be acquainted with Molly Moore (MBA 2012).
Moore was one of the protagonists of a recent advertising campaign promoting the Foster School’s work-compatible MBA programs which broadcast her image online, in print and on buses and billboards around the region.
“It’s been a surreal experience seeing my 15 minutes of fame on the sides of Metro buses and a billboard next to Home Depot,” Moore admits, laughing.
She was selected for good reason. And not, necessarily, because of her meteoric rise in Seattle’s roller derby scene (more on that in a moment). It was because of her unique position in healthcare, her capacity to catalyze innovation, her irrepressible joie de travail.
Heath care nerd
Moore refers to herself as a “giant health care nerd.”
She got into the industry by chance, taking a job confirming appointments and emptying trash at an optometrist office to pay for college. But she was smart and ambitious and eventually found herself negotiating provider contracts and managing specialty provider networks for Aetna, United Healthcare and Regence BlueShield—major players in health insurance.
But after 17 years in the industry, she could no longer see her next step. “I realized that I didn’t want my boss’s job,” Moore says. “I wanted the latitude to move around and do other things in healthcare.”
She enrolled in Foster’s Evening MBA Program to expand her possibilities. It worked.
“You leave the Foster School and you feel like you can do anything because they teach you everything,” Moore says. “You have all these great frameworks to point yourself down any direction you want to go.”
For her, it meant a return to the familiarity of healthcare. But this time, she’d be on the bleeding edge.
Big health opportunity
Cambia Health Solutions is the parent company of Regence BlueShield in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah, and several smaller providers of health insurance in the west. Within Cambia is a division called Direct Health Solutions which invests in companies leveraging innovative technologies to create a more person-focused and economically sustainable healthcare system.
Today Moore does business development on the investment team. For current and potential portfolio companies, she ensures that the opportunity is real, the technology is sound and the team is market-ready.
“I make sure they’re healthcare nerdy enough to understand what they’re getting into,” Moore says.
In three years on the job, Moore has helped double Cambia’s investments to 24 firms that range from SpendWell, an online marketplace for people on high-deductible health plans, to Wildflower Health, a mobile app to help new moms manage care.
Creator of opportunities
But assessing and advising investments is only the beginning of Moore’s job. Less-defined, but perhaps more important, is her role as a strategic matchmaker. Leveraging her vast industry experience, she connects entrepreneurs, providers, insurers and organizational consumers to catalyze healthcare innovations and accelerate their speed to market. “Healthcare is complex and getting more complex,” she says. “But it’s something I’m able to help people navigate.”
Much of this occurs at The Cambia Grove, the company’s new 9,000-square-foot collaboration incubator in downtown Seattle that has become a hub for innovation activity across the Northwest region (signified by the hulking Sasquatch mascot that greets you at reception).
In this arena, Moore operates under the intentionally open-ended title “creator of opportunities.”
She says this role is a parallel to the work of the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, which made an enormous impact on her career. It’s another connection she maintains. The Cambia Grove hosted the center’s recent 48-hour healthcare hackathon. Director Connie Bourassa-Shaw serves on its board. And Moore was thrilled to judge at the center’s inaugural Health Innovation Challenge in March.
“It’s great that they’re pointing students from around the UW toward healthcare,” she says. “It’s a massive market opportunity and a great place for innovation. As more people focus their tech talent on healthcare, it’s going to become more rad.”
Skaters gonna skate
Know what else is rad? Roller derby.
Moore was an avid skater as a kid, circling the family’s two-car garage with her sisters for hours and hours on rainy days. When she graduated from Foster in 2012, she decided to reward herself with a pair of top-end quad skates, purchased with the year’s income tax refund.
“So,” inquired the clerk at Seattle’s Fast Girl Skates, “are you going out for roller derby?”
The thought had never crossed Moore’s mind. “I just want to skate,” she replied.
But when she took her new wheels out for a spin at a local rink, she encountered a tribe of roller derby debutantes gearing up for training through the Rat City Rollergirls’ “Potential Fresh Meat” development program.
It looked like fun. Moore picked up a helmet and pads and gave it a whirl. “That’s how you get started in roller derby,” she says. “And then you figure out there’s this super-supportive community, and so you keep coming back.”
Moore progressed rapidly from potential to potent. After a successful tryout, she was placed in the Rat Lab and drafted by the Derby Liberation Front, one of four teams in Rat City, which is one of the most established leagues in the country.
A blocker, Moore brought a mix of technical skating and some power to the rink, where she skated under the handle “Violent Beauregard.” She loved watching her worlds collide.
“It was funny to have my Foster community and my work community and my friends and family asking, you’re really doing this? You’re really… doing… this? And I was like, yeah, it’s super fun.”
Also, super painful. Among her litany of derby-related injuries, Moore suffered whiplash and concussion, dislocated her shoulder and broke her tailbone, finger, sacrum and nose—the latter two weeks before her wedding. “Try explaining that one,” she laughs. “I was unusually accident prone.”
Though she was elected captain of the DLF before the 2015 season, Moore put her second career on hiatus when she became pregnant.
But she misses it. Desperately. “When I was pregnant, I would dream about roller derby,” Moore says. “I skated around in circles until I was 30 weeks along and totally out of balance.”
On derby leave for now, though, she’s taking stock of the sport’s valuable lessons. Roller derby has actually reinforced the Foster School virtues of teamwork, confidence, resilience and receptiveness.
Plus, it’s an unsurpassed reliever of stress. “I love being on my skates, I love hitting people, I love the community,” Moore says. “I can’t wait to go back someday.”