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Jarrod Weenum received his first important piece of investment advice when he was just 11. A family friend suggested he should save the money he earned from mowing lawns and buy an original illustration cel from his favorite cartoon, Scooby Doo. It turns out the hand-drawn piece of art was collectible and has appreciated in value over time.

Weenum remains a fan of the cartoon mystery series, but said his friend helped him learn the concept of how investments appreciate over time.

While attending Rocky Mountain College, Weenum worked as an intern and later as a staff assistant for Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont. He was gearing up to attend law school, but a friend, Kevin Larson, invited him to apply at Employee Benefit Management Services. EBMS specializes in health risk management and third-party administration of self-funded health benefit plans.

Weenum received several promotions at EBMS, and last year was named chief executive officer of Northern Rockies Healthcare Alliance. NRHA is a partnership of SCL health and Providence Montana. The alliance aims to provide quality health care at fair prices for Montana employers. The system helps health-care providers control costs while providing better care.

He enjoys being part of an effort that aims to control health care costs.

“Throughout my career, I have worked with employers across the country helping to identify strategies to offer comprehensive benefit packages to employees while working toward making health care more affordable,” he said. 

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Working with seven different entities who have different business cultures, philosophies and geographical challenges. Ultimately all seven medical institutions have a single goal to provide the highest quality care possible — it is my job to ensure that the care is more affordable, easier to access, and becomes more transparent. Northern Rockies Healthcare Alliance is truly changing the paradigm of how hospital care is provided.

What’s the best business advice you have received? In order to build and maintain relationships with others, a mutual respect based on honesty, ethics, and trust is crucial. My greatest sense of accomplishment comes from the relationships I have fostered throughout my 13 years in this industry. 

Who gave you that advice? Rick Larson, my former employer.

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I truly believe that quality healthcare is a right to all individuals and have dedicated my career to ensuring that health care is affordable. Early in my career, I was very focused on politics and later decided that I could make a bigger impact personally and professionally in an executive role. However, I continue to harness lessons I learned working for the late Sen. Conrad Burns to advocate, speak out, and provide guidance to organizations to advance healthcare in Montana and across the country.

Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My daughters. I have many things that I am passionate about, but they are the reason for most everything I do.

Which living person do you most admire? My father. From a young age, my dad taught me the importance of hard work, integrity, and helping those in need.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Ensuring Montanans understand how to access healthcare across the state, and that they understand what that health care will cost them. Rising healthcare costs are one of the fastest growing financial concerns among families in the United States. Conversations at government levels are ongoing as they relate to the Affordable Care Act, but this means little to health-care consumers who need to access care now. If I can help people understand the system better and help set realistic and fair cost expectations, I feel I am successful.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? The family I come home to each day after I leave the office. 

I’m happiest when I’m…Traveling. My wife and I try to visit a new destination each year. Most recently we spent time in The Netherlands. Our next stop is Iceland.

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