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2011 Forty Under 40: Jennie Peterson

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About me...
Jennie Peterson
Vice president and chief of staff
WellPoint Inc.
37
Web sites:
Social media:
On my hip:
two BlackBerries
iPod
Most-used apps:
The Wall Street Journal
CNN
Bloomberg
Favorite stuff:
books, music
 

As a vice president at the nation’s largest health insurance company, Jennie Peterson focuses on the big picture that is health care.

“At WellPoint, you have a chance to make a difference in health care in this nation,” Peterson said. “I get to collaborate and share ideas on how we are thinking about strategy, how we share thinking about different issues the company faces.”

Those issues include new technology and government regulations, making the health care industry a changing marketplace.

With Indianapolis-based WellPoint serving 33 million members nationwide, there is roughly $60 billion in annual revenue at stake.

Peterson’s experience in financial analysis at PacifiCare Health Systems earlier in her career, and as a vice president in the investment-banking division at New York-based Goldman, Sachs & Co., helped prepare her to join the table with WellPoint’s top decision-makers.

She left her home state of Nebraska to study finance and economics at the University of Denver, then headed east to work on an MBA at the Harvard Business School.

If she sounds like an overachiever, she makes no apologies.

“I really like to work hard. It’s sort of in my DNA to do my best to achieve excellence,” said Peterson, whose role at WellPoint includes managing the many demands on CEO Angela Braly’s time.

Since relocating to Indianapolis in January 2009, Peterson has served on the finance committee for the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s Board of Governors.

Working long hours at a demanding job in a new city doesn’t always leave a lot of time for a personal life. She listens to music and reads in her free time.

“Sacrifices and trade-offs are really part of the game and the journey,” said Peterson, who is single, adding that those may need to be examined from time to time.

For now, she is content with challenging work.

“I really am excited and fortunate to get to do something each day that I truly enjoy.”•

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