Coming from a family of medical doctors, Jesus “JZ” Zamarripa surprised many when he switched his college major from premed to economics. The study of scarcity, how humans and societies choose to deal with finite resources, is why economics is called “the dismal science,” after all.
But Zamarripa didn’t see economics in a negative light or as something that was coldly detached from helping people. “Economics fascinated me,” he says. “It’s about human behavior. And it provides a problem-solving structure.”
Zamarripa later discovered that economics, and the careers that can unfold from it, can truly help people. He followed a different path to achieve that, evolving into his role today as chief information officer of corporate technology at Humana, where he has expanded resources through technology, finding ways to make healthcare accessible to more people.
Right out of college Zamarripa found work in e-commerce at Capital One. This was around the year 2000, when doing business online was a vast new frontier. The highly competitive company had a rigorous recruitment and hiring process and provided an environment full of high-caliber talent. From there, a series of events pulled him into such things as evaluating hardware products, service management platforms, and data center rationalization.
“My big break came in 2004, when we decided to expand beyond being a credit card company into being a bank,” he says. “Capital One had a joint venture with a Mexican bank. Being bilingual is part of what got me engaged with the M&A team, which led to the acquisition of the company’s first retail bank. I led that IT integration, which is how I achieved my first leadership and management role.” From there, Zamarripa rose through the ranks, achieving vice president positions in the last five of his sixteen years there.
By 2016, Zamarripa’s dedication, work ethic, and track record of results led to opportunities from several Silicon Valley companies, but ultimately, he chose to go with 150-year-old MassMutual. “Culturally, it was a lot different from a tech firm. MassMutual is a steady and stable firm with customer relationships that last for decades,” he explains. “It was there I believed my ability to differentiate and make an impact was greater.”
He was able to move all lines of business onto emerging software platforms at a notably rapid pace, having honed his skills such as working across disciplines and enabling collaboration and cooperation among teams.
By 2021 he made his next career move to Humana, a company with 67,100 employees serving millions of customers. He was back in healthcare and working with patients as well as providers as the company’s head of technology in the CarePlus and Puerto Rico division, which services Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Florida and Puerto Rico. Within eighteen months he was promoted to CIO of corporate services technology.
If ever there was a role that required in-depth understanding of multiple disciplines, technologically speaking, it was at Humana. Humana has a successful history in care delivery and health plan administration to create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Zamarripa is leading his team in the mission of using technology to empower the company’s employees to make healthcare easier to navigate and more effective.
His ability to manage large teams in disparate places might well stem from his childhood. He grew up between Texas with his mother and Mexico with his father’s extended family, immersed in two languages and two cultures, always navigating two different worlds. He recalls, “It taught me to be independent but to know when to collaborate.”
“As we plan for changes in the broad dynamics of healthcare, I find myself back in my economics background,” Zamarripa says. “For example, we have an aging population, where by 2050 the population of people over the age of sixty will grow by 40 percent. Humana is committed to making it easier for people to achieve their best health and we’re supporting them through empathy and a personalized approach.
“We are shifting to value-based care and care in the home because those are the care deliveries that resonate with patient preferences,” the CIO continues. “Humana has a variety of clinical capabilities, branded as CenterWell, to support people in the healthcare settings they choose, including being the nation’s largest home health provider; providing value-based senior focused primary care in more than 230 centers; and dispensing more than 500 million prescriptions annually.”
Each of these businesses depend on the essential services of technologies under Zamarripa’s executive leadership, as well as benefit from the critical thinking and visionary perspective provided by a strong economics background.
Partners benefit from his leadership as well. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Jesus Zamarripa for his continued patronage and congratulate him on being recognized as an inspirational leader,” says Ryan Hoyle, VP of Outsource to America at GalaxE.Solutions. “Your unwavering commitment to excellence sets a remarkable example for all.”
Zamarripa, buoyed by Humana’s strategic influence on the market, is part of a new type of leaders who can leverage seemingly disparate passions to help solve complex challenges like the American health system.