By Timothy Posler – William Jewell College alumni Aaron Davidson ‘07 is the Director of Product Development and Portfolio Management of the Centene Commercial Insurance Group. The Centene Corporation is a $10 billion Fortune 500 company, located in the greater St. Louis area. They provide services to government healthcare programs. In 2013, was named to St. Louis’s 30-under-30 by the St. Louis Business Journal.
Through William Jewell, Davidson was able to acquire an internship to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City in 2006. The Fed actively recruits at William Jewell College and accepts interns every year from our students. His first job post-Jewell was at Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, as a Client Support Specialist. Cerner is in the healthcare IT business and currently is the fastest growing corporation in the Kansas City area. Davidson worked at Cerner for two years before deciding to pursue his Master’s Degree in Business Administration at Washington University – St. Louis.
During his studies he received an MBA Intern position with Centene Corporation, eventually transitioning to full employment as a product manager. As product manager he ran CentAccount, which offered financial incentives to customers engaging in healthy behaviors. This past year he was promoted to his current executive position. During Davidson’s time at Jewell he was a member of the men’s golf team and recognized as a Cardinal Scholar Athlete for his distinguished grades for three consecutive years.
In a recent interview, Aaron responded as follows:
What value do you place on your William Jewell College education?
“I place a lot of value on my William Jewell education. The Responsible Self was a wonderful introduction to new perspectives and encountering different viewpoints that are outside of my own personal experience. Studying abroad my Junior year continued that education with another wave of new experiences and points of view.
The small class sizes at Jewell gave me the opportunity to engage in discussion and made my education an interactive experience. In fact, William Jewell isn’t all that different from working in a corporation. The communication and critical thinking skills I learned in classes I still use everyday at work: we meet in small groups to break down problems, analyze options, debate solutions, and come to agreement on a path forward. Jewell gave me the practice and tools I needed to hit the ground running.”
What is your fondest memory of your time at William Jewell?
“All of my favorite times at Jewell involved people who are important to me to this day. For example, I met my wife Annie while hanging out in the Ely triangle between classes and then going to IHOP in the middle of the night. My roommate James, RA Brian, and other guys from Browning 2E are still some of my closest friends. I have great memories of playing NBA Hangtime and Mario 64 on the N64 all day and then writing papers all night, pickup basketball games in the Mabee Center, Harriman Arts events downtown on the weekends, and that time we started amateur boxing in the basement of Eaton Hall and I couldn’t chew solid food for a week.”
What is your day-to-day like at work?
“Centene is a matrix organization so I spend most of my days in meetings with my business partners from other teams. Additionally, I work in product development, so I need the help of a lot of different teams to bring my team’s ideas to life. Figuring out solutions to problems is only one small part of what we do — convincing everyone else that it’s the right course of action and then implementing the solution is where the hard work comes in.”
What advice could you impart to current students hoping to succeed?
“The best advice I can give is to pay attention to power and politics; look at what’s going on around you. Find out what keeps your boss up at night and then get involved to make his or her life easier. Give your direct reports visibility into what’s coming down the pipeline and why it’s important to them. Pay attention to where your company is investing and position yourself so you’re ready to take advantage of the opportunities that will follow.”