Health Benefits Manager
Provide a brief introduction about yourself.
My name is Naomi Hoppe-Mackechnie. I am a wife to Peter, mother of Dominic, Kiana, London, Jase and Seegwun; and am a Benefits Manager during the day. My home community is Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (Big Trout Lake) First Nation, I am First Nations Oji-Cree and Estonian heritage. My home has always been in Northwestern Ontario, but I have travelled throughout Canada and the United States since I was a youth.
What does your daily job entail?
As a Benefits Manager with Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, I manage the staff that complete the Return travel for Medical Transportation. Administrative tasks primarily involve completing managing projects and pilots. My daily tasks include reading, writing and research on how to improve structure or process within the department. I have the opportunity to be creative, and there are areas that need to be researched and understood. Meetings and networking are a big piece of communication. Documentation is vital for the work and people that we serve. The vision of the program is to provide coordination and enhanced support during travel. Engagement with communities will help to determine the vision.
The medical transportation discharge department primarily focuses on those clients and escorts that come out of the community for appointments into Sioux Lookout on to Winnipeg then are discharged from services. So we provide the medical travel home. Some people require escorts. We ensure that people travelling together stay together, and we also take special needs into consideration. We look at ensuring that people are met with their needs in a timely manner. The discharge program has increased productivity by ensuring people go home the day of their appointment rather than the delays that they used to experience before. In Winnipeg, we tend to give them a lot more opportunity to decide which airlines they'd prefer to use. But at the same time, they have to be the most economical and most efficient way of getting there.
It is beneficial to have additional qualities as a manager: listening skills are good; they provide a chance to generate the ideas and thoughts of others. Communication is necessary. It's a good idea to study the different ways people communicate, especially body language, talking with people, having a better understanding of where they are. And then at the same time not reading into things that you don't know. Motivation and coaching are aids to inspire others to maximize their potential. Interactions like this can build healthy teams and people.
What are some things you like about your career?
People. It is good to hear what they have to say, it can be positive or negative, and for that moment it is what they are focused on because they're people and they're investing their time and energy into an organization and and we're all working towards a goal to make people healthy and give them better service. Building networks with people on a professional basis is supportive as it can move an idea forward. It is good to get all perspectives, even those that oppose, to provide awareness in risks or negotiations. Making decisions is an area I have grown, which has many responsibilities.
What got you interested in your chosen career?
I enjoy a healthy lifestyle and want to support those who pursue holistic lifestyles. I believe the more we acknowledge and share our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs, the better we can create support communities and their health. It is the vision and mission of the organization I work for and support. Self-awareness, values, love and respect are important to me, and I like being able to influence what and who I can, with where I am in all those areas.
Where do you get your motivation?
My belief in God motivates me. I pray a lot. There are times I can handle things and times I cannot. I am a person that recognizes the rewards and consequences that come with the decisions I make. My choice is to think positively and try to model that. The comments I've received in the past have been that I am irrepressible. That doesn't mean I don't go without my challenges, my fears, my apprehension or even my own prejudices, but I try to go past that and look at how we can benefit each other through love and respect.
I like to choose for myself what I want to do. If I want to pursue leadership, I seek out those who I observe are good leaders. If it is administration, I try to increase my knowledge of the roles. Whatever piques my interests, I will challenge myself to try. Sometimes I give up, and I accept it is okay. Sometimes I beat myself up and fail. Then I talk about it and try again, or I don't.
I like to create change and be around those who create change as well. Many things in this world say 'be a duplicate(s),' but people are unique, and they need to be able to demonstrate that.
Is there anyone in particular who inspired you?
Not just one, but a lot of people. My husband and I work together to support each other and our dreams. My children are my biggest influences with their athleticism, wit, strength, love, acceptance, creativity, trust and hope. They're mature kids, and I've learned a lot of maturity from them. My parents have a big influence on me with strong work ethics, resiliency and kindness, as does my brother for leadership and my sisters for music and creativity. I have a group of friends that are positive and honest. Then I have mentors in different areas that I bounce ideas off of or absorb traditions from.
Naturally, I am a thinker, so my brain doesn't always shut down. I tend to remember someone that does something exceptionally well and consistently, then use that as inspiration to do.
How did you get to where you are today?
I came through challenges and triumphs, failures and mistakes, losses and gains. For example, I dropped out of school twice, two colleges. I went from my early childhood education and general arts and sciences. After all that, I started at an entry-level position with the Health Authority, and then I was able to work up through the ranks. I took a different path than "the go to school, get your degree kind of a way." There were a lot of times that I was overlooked because I didn't have certain qualifications and mistakes that I had to be accountable and responsible for.
As for failing, I don't see it as failure because I see it as just maybe taking a break, getting an identification that this is not the way you're supposed to go. So when it comes to failing, it's actually just try again, and sometimes you have to just stop, which is okay because the person that you really have to convince that you're doing well is yourself.
What do you do to keep developing your skills?
Actively. Development, like an athlete or artist, you keep doing it! Keep testing, perfecting it, through repetition, practises, methods and strategies. At times it can be “forget the former” and do something new. This area lets me fulfill an idea in my head, which I can share, teach, lead and do.
When it comes to educating myself or refining skills that I have such as management, administration, budgets, things along those lines, you can find those things online. There are some things that I've gone to like McMaster University for project management and that was a course that I took over six months and it was really good. It was online and then there are in-person cohorts that you can be a part of which can take up to a year.
What do you still hope to achieve?
Overall, I have a lot of dreams. I'm really content at this moment to just be where I am. Take the work home or leave the work at work when I need to and be present with my kids and family when that's expected.
What kind of things do you do to take care of yourself?
I will pray, travel, sing, read, drive, bake, walk, talk, sleep, shop and play. Laughter is very critical in my family and life. I take that active time with my kids because I want them to know that there are no parameters in what they have to act like without being disruptive, but be able to just be who they are and have fun!
Quiet evenings can be a night to watch movies with my kids or to turn everything off and sit in the quietness. Water sources and nature are places I actively seek out when I need time alone. There, I try to take in as much as I can such as the sights, colours, sounds, smells, and just drift off and daydream.
Is there anything you'd want to share with the youth?
I like this motto as it is easy to see why it is so important to be an “active” thinker. Learn and teach yourself and others to be deliberate and intentional in your thought life. If you’re feeling something, think about how it is that you want to respond because your thoughts generate who you are.
Thought leads to actions
Actions lead to habits
Habits become your character
Character determines destiny