Catching up with Jamie Cohen, Alto Pharmacy’s Chief Financial Officer
Nov 15, 2023
Last month, Alto announced that Jamie Cohen joined the company as our new Chief Financial Officer. We recently sat down with Jamie to learn more about her experiences, what she’s excited about at Alto, the top priorities in her new role, and her passions outside of work.
Congratulations on your new CFO role! We’re so excited to have you on board. To start, we’d love to get to know you a little more. What are your passions outside of work?
My husband Bryce and I live in Marin County, just north of San Francisco. We moved here recently to be closer to my mom as family is really important to me. I have a seven-year old French Bulldog named Zoey who is very, very special to me. She’s kind of the diva of the household. She often makes cameo appearances in the background of my zoom calls. I work out a lot; I wake up around 4am to do so. I run about 60 miles a week and depending on the day, I may also row, swim, or lift weights.That’s something that’s been important for my mental health and balance. I also do a lot of reading, and I also like word games and puzzles as a way to wake my brain up in the morning.
Can you share a little bit about your background and how you got to Alto?
I grew up on the FP&A (financial planning and analysis) and analytics track, and spent 10 years at a company called Angi. The company ultimately went public through a reverse merger with Angie’sList in 2017, which I helped to co-pilot. I was there for quite a long time and really grew my career there, from senior analyst to ultimately, CFO. The company is a market place that’s focused on home services, making it easier for homeowners to get projects done and creating technology and marketing for small home service providers - a group that’s very slow to adopt new technologies. Most of my career has focused on industries that have been slow or reluctant to adopt technology and as a result, the status quo customer experience can be dramatically improved.
I spent the last two years at a company called Vacasa, which is a full service vacation rental management company powered by technology, and took that company public in 2021. Technology creates significant operational efficiencies in this business and a better experience for homeowners and guests. Earlier this year, I decided I wanted to find a new opportunity and knew that I wanted to do something in the healthcare space. I wanted to do something good for the world, but also leverage all the experience I had in technology and disrupting industries with technology. There’s a really big opportunity for customer experience improvement and satisfaction in healthcare. I was contacted for the Alto opportunity in the summer, and had the opportunity to meet Alicia, our CEO, and Jamie K, our co-founder. I spent quite a bit of time with them learning about the company, the opportunity, the financials, where they saw the company in the future, and I found myself really excited about it. Also - while I’m not a pharmacist by training, my parents were both in the pharmaceutical industry. My father in academia, and my mom in the retail pharmacy space. It’s in my blood.
What attracted you to Alto?
The opportunity in this industry to really improve patient satisfaction and experience through technology, which I think is enormous. You look at the NPS for typical retail pharmacies and you see patient satisfaction is low, and you can experience that yourself. You go to fill a prescription and you wait in line to give them the prescription, and then you meander around the store while they fill your prescription - it’s just a terrible customer experience - and from everything I hear, it’s just getting worse with staffing shortages. I think the opportunity to really upend an industry and make it significantly better for patients is huge. Second, I really enjoyed meeting everybody through the interview process. I found the team to be very excited about the opportunity, very direct, and very smart and people that I could see myself working with. In addition, pharmacy has had an impact on my life, not just in how I grew up. My father passed away last year and he was truly a “cat with 9 lives” given all of the various health challenges he had in his life, and pharmacy was one of the main reasons we had so much more time with him than we might otherwise have had.
You’ve been with the company since last month. What has been the biggest surprise so far?
I knew that it’s a very complex industry, but it’s a very complicated industry. I’ve done a lot of background reading on the industry, and all the different players and the PBMs, and the suppliers, and the manufacturers, and the insurance companies, and it’s just a very complicated industry with a lot of parties in the value chain who each have their own motivations and role that they play. Just wrapping my head around that has been helpful. In addition, I’ve just been really impressed by all of the Altoids I’ve met and I’ve already learned so much from everyone. There’s no politics, there’s no toxicity, and people have been incredibly patient with me and my endless questions! I really value culture, and I’ve found that people are really hard working, and really want to do right on behalf of Alto and all of our patients.
What are your biggest priorities as CFO?
First is just wrapping my head around the company and the industry. Second is getting to know my teams and identifying if there are any areas where we might need additional support, whether that’s in people, systems or processes. And third, it’s partnering with Alicia and the rest of the leadership team to drive the company forward, thinking about how we best allocate our limited capital both financial as well as our people, how we make good decisions and set the company on a path for long term success while also solving more urgent, short-term problems.