October 16, 2017

Guiding Growth and Transformation Through Stories, Conversation and Humor: Thelma Haylock, New VP of Operations Transformation

By Accolade Marketing

Thelma Haylock, Accolade's new Vice President of Operations Transformation, believes in the power of an illustrated story. That infographic that you pin to your wall to remind you of key process steps. The picture that saves a thousand words. That story you can read in a single glance. Something that catches your eye and takes a hold of your mind.

Thelma's interest in the magic of the well-presented story took root early in her career when, after getting an advanced degree in Mass Communications/Advertising, she joined Accenture and then Pfizer in positions that required her to think deeply about how new technologies and initiatives are most effectively implemented among the people who have to make them work.

“I've always been the agent of change in the room among very technically oriented people,” says Thelma. “I've been interested in all the ways that complex processes can be defined and introduced through training, communications, and organizational design contexts.”

Since August, when Thelma joined Accolade in an operations leadership role, she has become a critical player in helping the company think about one of its primary goals—scaling for growth. She says her remit is to “guide that transformation” within Operations at the people, process, and product/technology levels. Her hope is to help Accolade colleagues thrive throughout the inevitable growing pains any company experiences when scaling.

“It's the people of Accolade who make this company so unique—those Health Assistants and Nurses who listen empathetically— and so I am committed to helping ensure that they are positioned to succeed as they perform the right work at the right time,” says Thelma.

Part of that effort will be focused on removing any obstructions that stand in the way of a job well done. Thelma will also be focused on developing opportunities for Accolade to rally around a shared vision of future growth.

So much of the job, says Thelma, is about the integration of capabilities already very much in play within the company as well as those on the horizon. “There's so much that can be done to harness the power of Accolade's cutting-edge technology and capabilities as we connect with, and positively impact, our clients,” she says.

One relatively new program—Accolade's mobile app—is already producing dividends for Accolade members as well as Accolade itself.

“Accolade's mobile app is an important new channel that is enabling Accolade to scale for growth,” Thelma points out. It's a convenient way for Accolade clients to stay in touch, she notes. But the mobile app is also making more efficient use of Accolade Health Assistants' time, as an increasing number of members proactively text their medical updates or questions, reducing the need for Health Assistants to call, leave messages, and wait for responses.


In addition to leveraging illustrated stories, Thelma envisions relying on old-fashioned conversation to pave the way for change. Things such as small group discussions where leaders have the opportunity not only to demonstrate their passion for exciting new technology but also to simply talk with people, hear their questions and even their concerns. “When it comes right down to it, there are very few things that are more effective than a face-to-face meeting…simply talking to each other; hearing the timbre of a person's voice and seeing their expression can lead to true collaboration and innovation,” Thelma says.

A great believer in bringing one's “whole self” to work, Thelma also stresses the power of celebrating success, introducing a touch of humor into stressful scenarios, and leaning on optimism. “There are many ways to turn a perceived failure into a future win,” she says. “I like bringing that perspective to the work I do.”

As a follower of Malcolm Gladwell, Thelma describes Accolade as a company at a tipping point, a company perched on the edge of true greatness. “I've joined this company at the right time in its history, and I'm so excited to be part of this story,” she says.

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