Evan Williams: "At Nua, I feel supported trying to fit the work and life pieces together"
The Nua family is growing, and today we're excited to welcome Evan Williams to the team!
With three years of experience in employee benefits consulting, assisting enterprise clients with financial analysis, strategy development, and renewal support, Evan was born and raised in Oakland and attended the University of California, Berkeley graduating with a degree in Economics.
An avid baseball fan and a father to a two-and-a-half-year-old Austin, in this interview, Evan shares his thoughts on the challenges HR leaders face, his life as a working parent, and exploring Oakland as a local.
Welcome to Nua Group! Please tell us about your journey: how did you pick your major at the University of California, Berkeley and how did you choose to work in the employee benefits space?
I came into college undecided on a major so, naturally, I did a bit of exploring during my first year in college to see what classes matched my skill set and interests the best. Economics felt like a great fit from the very first class, requiring strong mathematical and analytical skills, but also with applicability to fields ranging from history to business to public policy.
Ultimately, my career journey started in a health economics and policy class that I'd chosen in order to learn more about the passage and ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Following the class, I worked at a healthcare policy-focused research organization on campus, and then landed an internship (and later a full-time analyst position) with Willis Towers Watson in the Health & Benefits practice.
What do you like most about your job?
Working with good people - not only smart, talented colleagues, but also colleagues that value and care about the people they work with.
What do you think is your clients' biggest challenge? How does your work help solve it?
For many of our clients, a primary challenge they deal with is a labor market that is very competitive and fluid. We help our clients to think creatively about their total rewards programs to attract and retain talented employees.
As a working parent, what do you think is the biggest challenge that parents face in the workplace? How can companies make workplaces more welcoming for parents?
I think that one of the biggest challenges for working parents is that family responsibilities (daycare/school drop-offs and pick-ups, childcare for a sick child, doctor's appointments, etc.) often conflict with regular working hours. Even routine days can be a timing challenge for many families, let alone days that involve dealing with the hurdles and challenges that inevitably arise during parenthood.
I believe that the best way to support working parents is to allow workers the freedom to work flexibly as needed to support both their work and family responsibilities, whether it involves working from home or designing a schedule that does not align with a regular 9-5 working day.
What has your experience as a working parent at Nua been like so far?
To this point, my experience with Nua has been great - it's always a challenge trying to fit the work and life pieces together, but I have felt supported in making it work in the way that fits best for me. This flexibility was one of the things I found intriguing about joining the Nua team in the first place. A number of members on our team work remotely either full-time or part-time, and there are also team members that work less than 100% time in order to support other priorities.
In terms of the overall benefits and rewards Nua offers, in my opinion, they rank really competitively. Coming from an employee benefits background, I was interested in learning as much as possible about the benefits program, so before I joined the team, I read about Nua's own total rewards philosophy to determine if the overall rewards program was a good fit.
You were born and raised in the Oakland: what's the biggest change that you welcome in the Bay Area? What changes are you critical of?
One of the things that makes the Bay Area so great is that it attracts people from all over the world. The weather and culture are alluring, without even considering the exciting companies to work for that are headquartered here. I think that this exposure to such a diversity of cultures is great for everyone.
However, I don't think that the Bay Area has done enough to combat the downsides that migration has brought along with it, most notably the high cost of living. With such a high cost of living, it's becoming less and less viable for people without substantial financial means to stay in the area long-term.
What are your most favorite spots in the Bay Area?
I'm guilty of not exploring out of Oakland often enough, outside of my daily trips across the Bay for work. Luckily, Oakland has a lot of great options for food and fun. One of the things that I love about Oakland (and the Bay Area in general) is that you can find all types of food, but if I had to list some favorite spots they would include Zachary's for pizza and Bakesale Betty's for fried chicken sandwiches.
We've heard you are a baseball fan! What's your favorite team and what's one quality that makes them a great team and that makes it a great game to watch?
I really like that baseball is easy to follow casually (because games often last at least three hours and there's quite a bit of down time, you can miss some of the game without missing too much action!) or follow obsessively. Personally, I do a little bit of both. I rarely watch an entire game, but I enjoy learning about the analytics that are used by baseball teams nowadays. Over the last couple of decades, the focus on analytics in sports has allowed fans to learn more than ever about the sports and teams they care about - and the team I grew up rooting for, my hometown Oakland A's, were at the forefront of the sports analytics movement.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Excited to be part of a growing Nua team!