Adviser finds niche servicing tech and pharmaceutical market

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For the biotechnology and life science industries in New England, having a central point of communications on what benefits to offer their employees was severely lacking. Jeanne Nicholson, senior vice president of benefits consulting at CBG Benefits, saw this need and in return created HR BioTech Connect.

With more than 550 HR professional now utilizing Nicholson’s organization, she has managed in the last 24 months to bring the largest customers from the biotechnology industry into the CGB Benefits fold. On top of also increasing revenue for CBG by 25% annually, Nicholson proves to her clients and her colleagues that she deserves to be one of EBA’s 2017 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising.

To select this year’s honorees, EBA editors asked readers to submit the names of thought leaders who are making their mark on the benefit business through their unique approaches to client relations, benefits technology and/or mentoring other women. From the dozens of submissions received, the editors chose 30 benefit advisers to recognize for their outstanding achievements.

In the six years Nicholson has been at CBG, she has been a major reason why the company has increased its revenue by more than 25% annually. “This has occurred during a time when many other brokerage firms are either closing or being acquired by bigger firms,” says Jason Pinto, director of marketing for CBG Benefits. “In addition, her commitment to the HR BioTech Connect organization that she also runs has grown tremendously over the past two years, by gaining 200 new members.”

HR BioTech Connect is a networking group of more than 550 HR professionals in the biotech and life sciences industry. Nicholson provides the financial support for this group, which does not have any membership fees.

As the owner and founder, she plans monthly meetings and networking events, and provides an active email listserv that delivers value to the group’s members. “This organization has provided tremendous learning and networking opportunities for many HR professionals in the New England area,” Pinto says.

Chris Costello, principal and co-founder of CBG Benefits, says Nicholson was able to identify a need within the biotech community in the New England area, and through HR BioTech Connect she has been able to deliver guidance to startups in need of a benefit broker.

“In the Massachusetts area, the biotech and pharma business has been booming for years and years. But, there was a real void for servicing these startup groups,” Costello says. “They are really looking for guidance — not to be sold on a particular product — and Jeanne recognized that.”

Multifaceted leader
Nicholson has assisted CBG’s communication and strategy by identifying and assessing HR and benefit technology vendors, defining key details and objectives of client and prospect communication campaigns and executed the implementation of these efforts throughout the year.

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“Jeanne also helped our company to become a leader in regard to providing workplace wellness programs to our clients,” Pinto says. “This included creating content, presentation and more to help our clients establish wellness committees, define an annual wellness program calendar and create compelling wellness communications.

Pinto and Costello both agree that Nicholson has set a remarkable example of how important it is to truly go above and beyond when it comes to customer service. “While nearly every company claims that is a profit for them, Jeanne truly delivers by her actions,” Pinto says. “She is always available to her clients — her clients all have her personal cellphone number — and when they do need to use it, Jeanne gladly answers and provides the help they need.”

Costello says Nicholson is a very hard worker, especially when both her office and her client always have direct access to her. “At the end of the day, she really looks out for the clients and ultimately the employee,” he says.

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