Mark Brooks: Leading and Mentoring at Health Net
Mark Brooks grew up on dairy and fruit farms in California’s Central Valley. One day he plans to return to his deep agricultural roots and operate a vineyard. But that’s still a little down the line.
With an economics degree from UC Davis in hand, Brooks commenced his career at Anderson Consulting in San Francisco in 1991. Several years later he enrolled in the Graduate School of Management. After receiving his MBA in 1999, Brooks began working in the technology field and held several senior-level IT positions at VERITAS Software in Silicon Valley. When his girlfriend (now his wife)—a nurse at Kaiser Permanente—encouraged him to apply his skills in the healthcare field, he followed her advice. “I took a step back and started as an individual contributor at Health Net Inc.,” he says. “That was 11 years ago, and I have never looked back.”
Today Brooks is chief information officer at Health Net, one of the largest publicly traded managed healthcare companies in the U.S. The company’s HMO, POS, insured PPO and government contracts subsidiaries provide health benefits to approximately 6.6 million people in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
What are you passionate about in your current work?
The healthcare system in the U.S. is the greatest in the world in terms of the care that is available. Unfortunately that care comes at a cost our society can’t sustain. I am part of an industry and working for a company that is genuinely trying to solve this problem. In 2013 my company embraced the Affordable Care Act (with all of its challenges) and has distinguished itself in making the law work. I am proud of that.
Where is your career headed?
I grew up in a rural environment without a lot of professional role models. My career has come farther than I ever thought it would. If this is my last step, I would be pleased with my accomplishment. I am been very lucky in that several people really stretched to mentor me in my career. My current focus is to take my experiences and learning and mentor others trying to grow their career.
How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?
As the CIO of a large health plan, understanding the industry and the technology is the “cost of admission.” The GSM also provided me background in other areas (finance, accounting, business law, etc.) that has helped differentiate my contribution.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
I married an amazing woman and we have had two amazing kids.
Your favorite GSM memory?
I really enjoyed my capstone project. My team chose a not-for-profit as our case study, which provided me a view of the world I had not experienced prior.
Why is it important to support graduate business education?
I give back to the GSM in two ways. First, I encourage members of my team to apply to the program. To date three have successfully completed their UC Davis MBA. Second, I use my company’s matching fund program to contribute—a win-win proposition. Supporting the GSM helps give current students a strong foundation for their career.