Gregory J. Velander ’01 likes data. It’s been a common thread throughout his career – one he can trace all the way back to a database design class with Professor Wallace Wood, Ph.D. It opened his eyes to just how powerful and revealing data can be.
At the time, he couldn’t know just how important data would become to his future, but in his role as the new Director of Technology Innovation at Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, data plays a critical role, leading to insights that help improve patient care and outcomes.
“Today, data is everything that we do. It’s everywhere, and it’s critical to what we do at my organization.” And far from being boring, he says, data enables creativity – allowing him to create solutions from scratch that solve problems and propel business forward.
His is a new role, created to help IT take a more visionary leadership role at Neighborhood. The not-for-profit organization’s mission is to provide high-quality, low-cost access to healthcare for Rhode Islanders, currently serving some 200,000 of them.
Data enables creativity – allowing Verlander to create solutions from scratch that solve problems and propel business forward.
Recently named to the Providence Business News “40 Under 40” list, Velander says what gets him out of bed in the morning is being part of a motivated, creative, teamwork culture like that at Neighborhood – recognized last year by that same publication as one of Rhode Island’s best places to work. He started his career there 17 years ago, fresh out of Bryant and eager to make a difference.
He spent his college summers working in the Bryant Office of Conferences and Special Events, where 80-hour days coordinating and managing event details weren't unusual. Velander credits that experience with polishing his communication and other professional skills which prepared him to interview for – and eventually secure – a great job out of school.
A soccer coach for his kids’ teams, Velander also enjoys staying active with sports like surfing, basketball, tennis and golf. Sports like these helped him bond with his close-knit group of college friends – many of whom he remains in touch with today, both personally and professionally. “We had a very diverse set of majors among us, and keeping up those connections really helps when I need expertise from other disciplines.”
Growing up in North Kingstown, RI, Velander knew he wanted a business-related degree, and felt strongly that Bryant would be his best option for career preparation. He started in finance, then dabbled in marketing, but it was his computer courses that captured his imagination, offering him just the right combination of logic and creativity, he says.
His advice for leadership success? “Always be honest, never take what [others] do for granted, and treat everyone with respect.”