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Key Benefit Administrators: Where the CEO shares his tips to increase employee leadership

Key Benefit Administrators CEO Larry Dust presents an employee award.
Key Benefit Administrators CEO Larry Dust presents an employee award. Photo courtesy of Key Benefit Administrators

Lydia Velasquez, an audit and training manager for Key Benefit Administrators, said the people she works with truly care about each other – right up to the CEO.

Key Benefit is a third-party administrator for health insurance benefits that’s based in Indianapolis. Its Charlotte-area office of 228 employees is just across the border in Fort Mill, S.C.

Much of their time is spent with customers, explaining about how their insurance benefits work, and no one is limited by expectations for an “average talk time” common in similar jobs.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that we can take complicated terms and break things down so people understand,” she said.

Interoffice relationships are a bit different at Key Benefit, because much of the staff works from home and communication often takes place via videoconferencing. But growth and exploring different opportunities are concepts that are encouraged and cultivated, Velasquez said.

Velasquez said Key Benefit’s executive team recently invested in individuals throughout the company through a leadership development program. Twelve executives, including CEO Larry Dust, put together a curriculum that includes the thought processes behind strategic thinking and planning, as well as adaptation and other conceptual skills.

Most importantly, Velasquez said, they investing their time.

Dust himself huddled up with a handpicked group of six employees, including Velasquez, to share his ideas in a session about strategy and critical thinking.

“How many companies would have the CEO take four hours out of their day to teach that?” she asked.

“They really care about you as a person and not just the dollar at the end of the day. It motivated me to keep even more energized with the company,” said Velasquez, who has worked there for five years after previous jobs as a flight attendant and at a record label.

She started with no experience in health insurance previously, but was given a shot to learn from the ground up. Through training and mentorship, she moved up to become an operational trainer and then kept climbing to become a manager over audit and quality assurance employees.

Velasquez said she stays at Key Benefit because of how well employees are treated and how much people genuinely look out for each other.

At any job, “you go through ebbs and flows,” she said. “But the people that I work with care and have that genuine family feeling.”