Alumni Spotlight: Anjuli Calvert ’08

SIGD alum Anjuli Calvert

Anjuli Bedekar Calvert, a 2008 graduate of Auburn’s School of Industrial and Graphic Design (SIGD), is a Principal Design Strategist at Humana in Louisville, Kentucky. She has spent her career creating solutions for a wide variety of consumers, brands and technologies. While working as Lead Industrial Designer at General Electric Home Appliances in 2015, she was named to Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” in Manufacturing & Industry. Over the last eight years, she has moved through several positions at Humana, helping to develop products and services that provide a better customer experience and improve members’ overall health.

With 30 years of Medicare and insurance experience, Humana provides industry-leading senior focused, integrated value-based care. The company insures 17.2 million members nationwide, including 5.7 million Medicare Advantage Members, and offers Primary Care Centers and management of Home Health and Pharmacy Benefits. While working at GE in 2015, Calvert noticed a shift in the ways organizations were interacting with their customers, and she saw that Humana was one of the companies transitioning to a customer-oriented model. “I was really itching to get into more systems, services and experience design,” she said. “And the skills that I built at GE really prepared me to just dive right into Customer Experience, or CX.” She started on the CX team at Humana, studying members’ transactional customer experiences like buying insurance plans and browsing the company website. Calvert led a team of people from various backgrounds to improve those customer experiences. “At the time, that notion of bringing together a group of people that have different backgrounds to solve problems together was revolutionary for these big companies, but it’s how designers always work,” she noted.

Calvert’s next stop at Humana was the Innovation team, a newly formed group that incorporated business strategy, medical professionals and experience and service designers. For Calvert this meant getting away from CX experiences and looking more into what products and services could improve members’ health and Humana’s bottom line. “I really found a lot of energy and joy working on the clinical side, thinking through the problems people have managing their health within a complex healthcare ecosystem and developing solutions Humana is uniquely positioned to provide. We were looking at a lot of innovative new technology to increase access to best-in-class clinical interventions and care management.”

During her four years on the Innovation team, Calvert and her colleagues developed human-centered services and solutions to address barriers in managing costly chronic conditions like heart failure, diabetes and COPD. One of her favorite projects was working with a startup that provided virtual companionship and daily health management through a thoughtful combination of Artificial Intelligence and a real human on the back end. “It sounds like a gimmick, but the design of the hardware, the HIPAA-secure software and the ability to fill in gaps with a real empathetic human meant the solution had better adoption and engagement than any other technology we tested. It delivered explicit value to the user first, in the form of companionship, before layering in condition management protocols and alerts to their care team when symptoms arose.”

Next, Calvert did a short stint in Digital Health and Analytics, focusing on modernizing Humana’s technology to enable new clinical products and post-hospitalization programs, before moving back to the insurance business two years ago. “I’m now doing design strategy work that helps our insurance business and our senior leaders understand what is the right problem to solve before spending a lot of time, energy and effort on solutions aimed at the wrong problem.” An example of this is her recent investigation into the Digital Registration and Sign-In Experience. Calvert’s goal was to get to the root cause of commonly cited pain points within that experience, establishing standardized CX measurements to track the health of that experience over time and developing opportunities and concepts to increase digital self-service interactions, easing the burden on the company’s call centers. This project characterizes a skill set she refers to as “design sleuthing,” which she explains is using a designer’s ability to make sense out of complicated relationships to illustrate how users’ experiences are connected to everything from internal collaboration models and funding cycles to product roadmaps and technical architecture. “I put that on my resume now,” she said. “It takes a designer to really bring together a full picture of what’s happening and then systematically move through the cycle of identifying problems and designing desirable, viable and feasible solutions that benefit everyone. In that way, design strategy is kind of like the compass helping our business move in the right direction.”

Having changed positions four times during her time at Humana, Calvert says it’s important to understand that large companies realign internally often, so designers need to know how the work they do fits into the big picture. “I chose to move roles based on where my interests were, the connections I was making within the business and the areas of the business that were doing something impactful for our members. But there were also a couple of times when our design group got shifted into a different area of the business, even though we were still working on the same projects.” She advises young designers to develop a solid understanding of human-centered design and how that can be applied to different disciplines within a team, company or industry. She also says they should remain open to applying their skills to adjacent disciplines as they gain experience. “Students should make sure that they’re developing tried and true design skills in school. Wherever you land after school, make an effort to learn about all the other roles that interact with your work, because you might find your next career opportunity using your design skills in a different way.”