Chen Mack has been a leader in saving lives for decades. From helping the uninsured get health care to running the leading diabetes nonprofit foundation in Guam, she is relentless in her pursuit to give back.
Chen is passionate about people and about her work in giving the gift of health. That’s why I support this woman’s work.
Chen Mack has been a director and shareholder of StayWell Guam since 1986. In 2008, she took a more active role in managing StayWell to form IHIAC, the holding company, and Island Home Insurance Co., the underwriter. She is now the president, CEO and sole owner of IHIAC and IHIC.
Randi Zuckerberg: You used to be a professional model in the 1970s. How does one go from entertainment and media to running the biggest commercial health insurance company in Guam?
Chen Mack: As a professional model, I had the privilege to tour many countries and to experience various cultures.
In 1977, I married a businessman who was involved in the health-care industry. We invested in a small health-care company, which grew to be a large and reputable health-care provider in Guam and Saipan. It was through him that I learned the techniques of the industry.
In 2015, I eventually became the sole owner and faced a daunting task. I summoned courage to overcome the challenges of driving one’s ideas across the corporate boardroom. Being at the helm of reinvigorating a company can be challenging. The company continues to strengthen and make significant progress because I have an outstanding team of managers and employees.
RZ: What was missing in the health-care space that needed revamping?
CM: The access to affordable and responsible health care requires revamping. Every year, the costs of health services and medical supplies rise while we continue to see a significant part of the population remain uninsured. Those with access to health insurance do not take charge of their health.
There is also a lack of the ability to educate the population to prevent chronic illnesses before these conditions lead to irreversible damage to the body.
RZ: What is current entrepreneurship like in Guam?
CM: Guam is an island with approximately 180,000 people. In comparison with business owners in the U.S. mainland, the entrepreneurs on Guam are confronted with dealing with a limited market that is highly competitive. The health-care industry, in particular, is definitely not for someone who is risk-averse. In my business, work is a juggling act of balancing the needs of clients, the requirements from regulators, the relationship with providers and the interest of the business.
RZ: You bought out all other StayWell shareholders to become the sole owner. How did that decision come about?
CM: I was one of the original founders of the company, but I always elected to remain in the background. The scope of our business had changed. I made an offer to buy out the remaining shareholders and eventually became the sole owner.
This was very important to me because I have a commitment to the employees who worked hard for the company. More than half of my key managers have been with the company for more than 20 years, while many have been with us for more than a decade. It is the dedication and commitment of the employees that drive this company and made it successful.
RZ: What challenges have you faced as a female CEO and sole owner in the health-care industry?
CM: In the health insurance industry on Guam, there are only four major players, and it is a male-dominated industry. I am very pleased to be the first woman health insurance sole owner/administrator.
At the workplace, actions speak louder than words. As a woman CEO, my associates tell me they support how I arrive at tough decisions with graciousness. Deep inside, I know that these decisions are the result of my upbringing, my life experience, the desire to be competitive, and the instinct to survive and succeed.
My daily goal is to make sure I continuously drive my team’s passion for the company and to give back to the community.
I have always been a firm believer in giving, and I have been seeking ways to return to the community. Guam holds a very special place in my heart. Some of the kindest people live on the island. I searched for a meaningful contribution and was made aware of the prevalence of diabetes on Guam, which exceeds the United States.
As a result, I have established the StayWell Guam Diabetes Foundation. I look forward to the foundation’s success in helping Guamanians with this disease.
— Randi Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, a best-selling author and the host of a SiriusXM weekly tech business show, Randi Zuckerberg Means Business. Follow her on Twitter: @randizuckerberg or connect with her on Facebook. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.