Investor Spotlight with Brandon Erhart

Posted in News on December 02, 2022

Investor Spotlight with Brandon Erhart
Picture1.jpgBrandon Erhart is Regional Manager-West Shore, Health Plan Business for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. He is tasked with executing strategic priorities, engaging with community stakeholders, and oversight of lakeshore commercial sales. A West Michigan native, Brandon was born and raised in Grand Rapids, attended Grand Valley State University (B.A. Health Communication ’13, MBA ‘20), and currently lives in Byron Center with his wife. 
Brandon is deeply committed to his community, and he has a passion for creating connection. He serves locally on the board for the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids and the Michigan Association of Health Underwriters, and volunteers with 616 Service, Grand Rapids Public Schools, and Young Life.
Brandon, you have years of Senior leadership experience. Who are the people who have had a profound influence on you and your leadership style?
I have been extremely fortunate to have great leaders in my 10 years at Blue Cross, each of whom have had a direct impact on how I choose to lead. My personal leadership style is more like that of a coach; service oriented, educational, and developmental in nature. Through experiencing different types of leadership styles at our organization, I have been fortunate to observe what works well and what doesn’t, and adapt those qualities to fit my own. Blue Cross has invested time and resource into leadership development opportunities which have helped me refine these skills in the company of other community leaders.
Talk to us about company culture. What are some values that you and the BCBS team live by?
Company culture is critical at a time when competition for top talent is at an all-time high. The most successful, and arguably most impactful, organizations have an infectious company culture that connects employees to the mission of the organization and encourages each employee to bring their whole self to work each day. As a non-profit mutual company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan has a rich culture rooted in community that is embedded into the DNA of our organization.
At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we have defined cultural beliefs that we feel should shape how we engage with customers, community stakeholders, and each other. These values promote action, open dialogue, personal accountability, and an overall commitment to our nonprofit mission of building healthier communities across the state of Michigan.
We know you are someone who gives back to the community in many meaningful ways. Tell us about an initiative that is near to your heart.
I think one of the great joys of my role at Blue Cross is the exposure to so many phenomenal organizations who are making great strides to address societal issues we experience today.
My passion for healthcare and health disparities is a significant reason why I joined Blue Cross Blue Shield more than 10 years ago. I grew up with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and was intimately connected to the healthcare system. My experience with the struggles of trying to navigate a highly complex and inefficient system helped shape my perspective on healthcare, and it highlighted the need for improvement and the lack of assistance so many patients struggle with when navigating their own healthcare journey. For me, if my personal experiences and understandings could help ease the burden for someone traveling a similar path then it was my obligation to do so.
I have been fortunate to give back to the CF foundation over the years by serving on various committees and helping to raise awareness for the disease. In West Michigan, organizations I believe support the mission of health include Friends and Families of Cystic Fibrosis, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Young Life, and 616 Service.
What is a book that you’ve read or an influencer that you watch that has made you a better leader?
Two books I would recommend to any leader are Atomic Habits by James Clear and Dare to Lead by Brené Brown.
James Clear writes about habit formation and the value of being process oriented over being goal oriented. Being process oriented creates a space to make incremental improvements over time in order to create the best possible outcome. As a leader, this book has recalibrated how I approach problem solving and how I hope to develop my team.
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor of psychology at the University of Houston. Her books touch on the human element of leadership. When we dare to step into leadership, we cannot pretend to have all the right answers, but rather step boldly into curiosity and ask the right questions
Can you share why it is a priority for you to invest in economic development?  
Economic development has the potential to change lives. Economic development enhances the lived experience of people within a community by providing more opportunities for families to grow and prosper. I believe sustainable economic development solves problems by identifying local needs, like housing, industry specific demands, and workforce gaps, and matching available resources to help solve for them. Like healthcare, economic development transcends all other areas of development.
Investment in economic development is, ultimately, investment in all other areas within the community in one centralized location, the higher tide that raises all other ships.