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Charles Schaller

Director and Chief of Staff of the Advanced Technology Collaborative

Location: Minnetonka, MN



MBA, finance, Tippie School of Business, University of Iowa
BSB, marketing, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Career bio

I serve as director and chief of staff in the Advanced Technology Collaborative at Optum. In addition to management responsibilities within ATC, I drive efforts around our Immersion Sessions. These sessions serve to expose executives in the business to a meaningful overview of key emerging technologies. These are contextualized in use cases that highlight their ability to solve our most difficult enterprise problems.

Prior to joining Optum, I worked at TIAA-CREF (Fortune 100 financial services) driving the digital conversion of their enterprise wealth management services. Prior to that role I worked as a financial analyst for a large college endowment fund covering the health care space, including large molecule pharmaceuticals, PBMs and medical devices.

Awards and recognitions

  • Featured in Poets and Quants magazine: 2017 MBAs to Watch
  • Optum Crystal Award for Collaboration

Conference speaking engagements

Multiple conferences and panels around the Twin Cities’ start-up, technology and health care communities

Personal profile

Why did you choose to work at Optum (instead of any other tech company or health care company)?

I’m convinced that Optum is the most equipped company on Earth to provide the solutions needed to address some of the biggest challenges in health care. From patient data, to human capital, to executive leadership, our organization has an unprecedented opportunity to advance health care and make the system work better for everyone.

Is there a personal story behind your decision to work in health care?

Two words to describe what motivates me: “More moms!” I lost my mom to leukemia within days of taking this role. During her short but brave battle with cancer, I saw firsthand the importance of quality care and patient centricity. Driving toward the Optum mission feels like an appropriate way to honor her, as well as create a world in which few people lose loved ones to these terrible diseases.

What’s one example of a really difficult problem in health care that are you solving using technology?

Deciphering the human genome. Each person carries with them ~1.1TB of unique genetic code. While we can sequence that code relatively easily, we can’t draw easily meaningful insights from it until we’ve identified and mapped specific health conditions to their genetic counterparts. We are working to leverage advanced technologies to drive previously unattainable insights from the human genome, improving health outcomes through diagnostic screenings, predictive medicine and pharmacogenomics.

How are you keeping health care human while applying advanced technology?

Human-centered artificial intelligence (AI) is key in the application of advanced technologies. We are not looking to replace health care professionals, but rather augment their ability to give quality, human-centric care. My ideal future state is an army of “super-powered” doctors, nurses and caregivers who are empowered through AI, Internet of Things, virtual reality and a number of other key technologies.

What are you passionate about when you’re not at work?

Time with my wife and three sons. Hawkeye football. Channeling my inner Ron Swanson (I’m a home brewer and amateur carpenter). I love music; I play guitar, piano and drums. Camping, hiking and exploring with my boys.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Decide who you want to be before you decide what you want to do.