Vitality Increases Executive Staff to Capitalize on Market Growth


The Vitality Group, part of the world’s longest-standing and largest incentive-based workplace health promotion and prevention program, has expanded its executive team following the successful launch of its partnership with John Hancock Insurance and exceeding the three-fourth million member milestone in the United States (US).

“These additions and new appointments of our executive staff strengthen our ability and capacity for growth,” said Alan Pollard, CEO, The Vitality Group (TVG). “We are well-positioned to continue developing the most actuarially-sound and effective wellness program to help our clients have healthy and productive employees.”

Executive Promotions

Derek Yach, Chief Health Officer

Previously Executive Director of the Vitality Institute and Senior Vice President of TVG, Derek will serve as the Chief Health Officer for Vitality. He will continue to oversee a team invested in building out the science and evidence underpinning health promotion and workplace well-being and applying it in practical ways to improve overall health. Derek will represent Vitality externally from a health perspective and lead interactions with business, global media and NGOs globally.

Steve van der Watt, CEO of new Vitality entity

Previously Chief Sales Officer, Steve will be the CEO of a new entity within TVG that will be announced later this year which represents an exciting and substantial growth opportunity for the organization. Steve has led the remarkable revenue growth for Vitality’s corporate channels over the past few years.

Stephen Mitchley, Chief Strategy Officer

Promoted from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Strategy Officer, Stephen is spearheading the development of common Vitality capabilities across the various partner markets in which Discovery operates.

Sean Katz, Chief Information Officer

Previously Senior Vice President, Systems and Technology, Sean is responsible for systems and technology delivery for TVG.

Brad Beckman, Chief Operating Officer

Promoted from Senior Vice President, Servicing and Human Resources, Brad will lead the execution of strategy and operations for TVG.

New Staff Appointments & Promotions

Karen Kaplan, Vice President of Product Development

Karen has been a core member of the Vitality team in the US for 12 years. She has driven successful launches of many strategic partnerships and projects. As Vice President of Product Development, her focus will be on further developing Vitality’s product roadmap to support both our partnerships and corporate clients.

Keith Karem, Vice President of Marketing

Having previously led business and partnership marketing for Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Keith brings a wealth of experience in business-to-consumer and business-to-business marketing, new product development and brand management. Keith is charged with developing a new brand strategy for the company.

Kenneth Sloan, Vice President of Sales

With more than 20 years’ experience in sales and management leadership in health plan consulting and wellness, Ken held sales positions most recently with 5Star Life Insurance Company (an Armed Forces Benefit Association enterprise) and United Healthcare. Ken will play a key role in furthering Vitality’s relationships with brokers and consultants.

Mark Smith, Chief Sales Officer

Mark joins Vitality from HealthMarkets (a Blackstone Portfolio Company) where he was Executive Vice President and Chief Agency Officer, leading one of the largest distribution businesses in the individual health insurance space. Prior to that he held various senior regional and national positions at United Healthcare and was previously part of the Discovery family, having worked for Destiny Health. Mark is charged with leading the recently enlarged sales team.

Evolving Role of the Vitality Institute

The Vitality Institute was launched two years ago by Discovery Ltd, the South African insurance company, as part of its commitment to health promotion and well-being programs that advance social good. The Institute’s dual purpose was strengthening the science underpinning prevention and health promotion, and elevating the discourse to reflect a more evidence-based approach to chronic disease prevention. The Institute has become accepted by lead media, government, corporations and academics as a “go-to” place for leadership and insights on adult health promotion, prevention and workplace health.

“The Institute has made enormous progress during its tenure and after careful consideration, we’ve determined that the time is ripe for the Institute to evolve to a new phase for optimal global impact,” said Adrian Gore, CEO of Discovery. “Current initiatives run by the Vitality Institute will be completed towards the end of 2015, at which point key projects will be internalized within Vitality to take implementation to the next level both in the US and across our other markets.”

Derek Yach, Chief Health Officer, Vitality, noted “As a first flagship initiative the Institute convened a Commission on Health Promotion and the Prevention of Chronic Disease in Working-Age Americans which brought together leading experts from multiple sectors, ranging from public health to finance and technology. Specific recommendations, published in a report launched in June 2014, are being implemented which we believe will have a profound effect on the way prevention is viewed and managed both in the US and beyond.”

Examples of actions coming from the Commission are:

  • The call for prevention science has led to the deans of schools of public health and the National Institutes of Health starting new advocacy and analytic work to redress underspending in this field,
  • the importance of getting evidence-based health metrics included in integrated reporting frameworks has led to an initiative that involves large corporations, workplace health experts, standard-setting bodies linked to the Dow Jones and other stock exchanges; and
  • the need to address data/privacy concerns around the use of personalized health technology (including wearable devices) has led to draft responsibility guidelines for the design and implementation of such technologies.

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