Pollard highlights relationships, tells Forty Under 40 class to trust their intuition

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,125 views 

Nearly 400 people attended Tuesday's Northwest Arkansas Business Journal Forty Under 40 luncheon in Rogers.

Health insurance executive Martine Pollard emphasized the impact of others on her life in a keynote address to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 26th annual class of Forty Under 40 honorees.

On Tuesday (Aug. 16), the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal hosted nearly 400 people for its annual Forty Under 40 luncheon at the Embassy Suites in Rogers. Intrust Bank in Rogers was the event sponsor.

Pollard, vice president of the Northwest Arkansas market for Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield, spoke about her grandmothers’ influence on her and how they coped with change and persevered through adversity. She also encouraged the Forty Under 40 honorees to ask what inspires them and who supports them; what’s their why and what gives them purpose; how to make a change, and know when and why.

“Trust your intuition,” she said. “When we think we’ve been given more than we can handle, we have to trust. Trust your gut.

“We’re in a time of the great resignation,” she added. “But sometimes change presents itself to you and not on your timeline. Acknowledge that. Pause. It doesn’t have to be forced or driven by the next big title or paycheck.”

Amid the pandemic, she said she’s been slow to reconnect with people but is thankful for her relationships with others. She asked the Forty Under 40 honorees with whom they are developing relationships and supporting. She also noted that having mentors is good but suggested having a personal advisory council.

She said the council might include older people, younger or the same age, those with a unique worldview, who look different and with whom one can have a genuine relationship and be there for each other.

Cameron Smith was on her council, and she said he had told her about her current role. Smith, the founder and owner of Cameron Smith & Associates executive recruiting firm in Rogers, died on July 18 from complications due to cancer. He was 71.

“Before recently joining Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield to help lead their Northwest Arkansas initiatives, I’ve been focused and head down for a while,” Pollard said. “I had been immersed… in communications and collaborations with our regional health systems and the community, focused on the COVID-19 pandemic — which, by the way, being the face and voice of COVID in Northwest Arkansas, was not something I ever imagined being in my repertoire, but it certainly is now.”

Pollard explained that the roles throughout her career have allowed her to serve her purpose in life which includes “contributing to the greater good, making a difference in my life to my community wherever that might be. And do that by engaging, connecting and acknowledging the importance of relationships. It’s how I’m wired. It’s what motivates me.”

This year’s Forty Under 40 class also had a private Q&A discussion before the luncheon with Rex Nelson, senior editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.