Innovators understand that to be successful, you need to adapt and think outside of the box. You also need to embrace ambiguity, learn to navigate the unknown, and get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Charu Madan didn’t come to Innovaccer with a healthcare IT background, but her experience with startups and enterprise software companies gave her a unique perspective to take on the challenge. As vice president of partnerships and digital health, she’s been a driving force in Innovaccer’s success partnering with other innovative organizations and creating a new market vertical within digital health. Here, in her own words, is why Charu chose to accelerate her career by joining Innovaccer.
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I think of myself as a builder. Over the last 10 years I’ve worked in startups in different stages of the lifecycle and love the thrill of scaling and growing companies along their journey. I’ve been in a variety of business roles, from product marketing to product management to sales strategy and partnerships. It’s given me a great appreciation of how businesses are run, and it also taught me to be comfortable crossing boundaries and learning.
I’m the proud mom of two wonderful boys, ages 11 and 15 and they’re both athletes who play sports at the national level. I was also an athlete growing up, so sports have been a very important part of my life. It has taught me grit, tenacity, and an approach to life and adversity. I’m also a dog mom of Dino who makes a frequent appearance on zoom calls.
A few years ago, I reconnected with a former colleague who told me that he was working at an amazing company called Innovaccer. Subsequently, I got a chance to talk with cofounders Sandy (COO), and Abhinav (CEO) and other members of the leadership team. When I heard their story, I was blown away. I thought, “Wow, this is an incredible company!”
Also, the opportunity to be in a company that was transforming healthcare was too good to pass up, and I was eager to learn more and bring in my skills and background in driving and shaping the next growth trajectory of the company.
I started my role as vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances. But as time went on, we identified a market adjacency, and a new customer segment which seemed a natural extension and evolution of my role, so I took on the challenge of incubating, growing, and scaling a new business vertical within Innovaccer called Digital Health. It’s like being a startup within a startup. And it exemplifies my mantra of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
One part of my team is made up of folks who manage relationships with our external partners. I think of them as the connective tissue between internal Innovaccer sales teams and external partners like Microsoft, AWS, PWC, McKinsey, Snowflake, and others. The other part of my team is helping digital health companies accelerate their journey to reduce time to market and time to value for their customers.
My team is very diverse because we have folks in the U.S. and in India. I’m amazed and grateful that the team in India aligns so much with our U.S. hours, because that's not easy. We have a robust mentorship program, and the best part is the mentoring happens on the job, during the natural course of business. Newer and younger team members are actively learning, growing, and expanding their knowledge by being a part of the action with the senior folks. This is an essential part of developing people's careers.
There are no typical days at Innovaccer, but most days include a lot of Zoom meetings, problem solving, and making decisions. I enjoy the fact that offices have reopened, and I love going into the office two to three times a week to connect with colleagues. Looking back, I believe the remote-only working model, as a result of COVID, drove individual productivity (we could jump from one virtual call to another), but the flip side was it had a negative impact on cross-functional team collaboration and productivity.
So now I spend a lot of my time working cross-functionally and driving alignment to understand the business challenges to get on a path of greater impact. I spend my mornings on calls with our different teams in the U.S. and across the globe. I spend time working with my team and direct reports on complex deals or situations that need resolution and are time sensitive. I have a fantastic team with a level or seniority and experience who drive customer and partner interactions themselves. But I jump in when there are challenges or unforeseen situations.
My afternoons and early evenings are spent responding to emails, Slack messages, and other managerial responsibilities for the team.
I've chosen to be part of companies that are dynamic, fast-growing, and have audacious goals. But some of those companies were small, or early in their journey, and were constrained by what we could achieve due to lack of resources and scale.
On the other hand, I’ve worked at very large companies too where things are slow to move, and bureaucracy and overly aggressive processes come in the way of true progress. Innovaccer is unique, and I think of it as the “Goldilocks Zone.” We are young and hungry enough to move fast and yet big enough with the right scale and resources to make meaningful progress.
The other unique thing about Innovaccer is we dream big and audaciously—we take moonshots. Even if we can’t achieve those audacious goals, we make significant progress towards them, and I believe in the end we achieve more than what we would have had we had set a lower goal.
If you are motivated by big goals and by changing the world of healthcare, Innovaccer is the place for you. You can do that at Innovaccer. If you’re a person who wants to be a part of a growing company that is continually reinventing itself, Innovaccer is the place for you.
We’re at the forefront of innovation in healthcare—not just with our solutions, but also with our people. We have an entrepreneurial spirit and leaders who encourage us to dream big. As a rapidly growing company in an evolving industry, there can sometimes be ambiguity as we grow and learn, but we’re encouraged to collaborate and win as a team, which I’ve seen with my own team and others within Innovaccer.
My biggest achievements are both personal and professional. It’s a combination of being a mom and having a busy career simultaneously. At times it’s hard to juggle but being able to do both is an accomplishment.
I’m proud of the fact that while my children are busy with sports and school, they are independent, mature, and understand the demands of my job—but we always prioritize the key things we need to focus on as a family.
I really believe in the concept of work-life integration. We’ve always talked about work-life balance, but it's not balanced anymore because we are not going into the office. We’re working at home. My sons will often come into my office to say hi. Our worlds are coming together, and there's less separation. I know that can be a good thing and sometimes it’s a challenge, so we have learned how to set boundaries.
It was still early in my Innovaccer days, and we were planning for the HIMSS conference. I was working closely with marketing, and we came up with the idea to create a partner pavilion where we invited eight partners to set up their kiosks within the Innovaccer brand. It was a huge hit—and our competitors stopped by to see it. Even today, people talk about how we made ourselves appear larger than life because we had our own Innovaccer booth, and the Partner Pavilion essentially extended the Innovaccer footprint.
At the conference, someone asked me, “Does Innovaccer have 10 booths across the conference?” This made me chuckle and feel proud at the same time. Now our Partner Pavilion has its own life and we had this again at HIMSS 2022.
We pulled it off because I was able to put a project team together, coordinate across engineering with product management, and work with marketing and sales. It was truly a cross-functional effort.
One of the mentors at Cisco, who to date is a good friend and mentor, told me, “In an enterprise company there are only two things that matter—you build something, and you sell something. The companies who figure out those two things well are successful.”
He always told me to trust my gut and follow my instinct. And I still follow that advice today. In our day-to-day work, we‘ll never have all the data we need to make decisions. So, decisions have to be made with whatever data we have on hand and overlaying that on instinct and past experiences. I’ve found those decisions actually have an equal chance for success as compared to decisions that were made on hard data alone.