Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle in the Corporate WorldPosted by Janae Melvin on February 17, 2016 in country, cross, field, health, overland, park, Sprint, track, wellness There are multiple avenues a person can take in their career path. The direction of a career is rarely set in stone when a student arrives on a college campus, the chance the direction remains unchanged is rare. Such is the story of Mike Finch.
Finch ’98 had a strong interest in education when he enrolled at Ottawa University. He wasn’t really sure what he wanted to do after graduation, but he enjoyed the classes he took during his two years at Allen County Community College, zeroing in on health and wellness education classes particularly.
As a cross country and track and field athlete, health and wellness was important to Finch. He wanted to know what made him perform better and what he would need to do to become a better athlete on the track. He chose to pursue a degree in Physical Education.
“When I initially started at OU, I thought about pursuing athletic training,” Finch said. “Personal training also sounded interesting to me. But, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do once school was over.”
After graduation, he started working as a personal trainer. A couple years later he began working in the medical field in a cardiac rehabilitation environment. It was a brief stop on his career journey as he quickly discovered he received his greatest satisfaction from helping people be healthier overall in life through choices they make as compared to rehabilitation.
“My wife and I moved to Atlanta in 2002 and up to that point, I had spent the majority of my career doing one-on-one personal training,” Finch said. “In Atlanta, I began working at a local hospital in their health and wellness program. While there, I met a CEO and after several conversations proposed a corporate health program for his company. He liked the idea. That was a real eye opener for me – I was on to something. I could take my degree and my health and wellness training and apply it to a corporate setting.”
In fact, Finch didn’t realize it at the time, but during his years at OU the corporate wellness seed had already been planted in his mind.
“My first introduction to corporate wellness was in a class I took that was taught by Arabie Conner. That peaked my interest and I remember thinking that I might want to look into that someday. I don’t think I really realized that it would become my career.”
In 2008, Finch returned to Kansas and took a position with Optum Health, overseeing corporate health and wellness programs. One of his clients was Sprint and he would travel to the various call centers, presenting programs to those employees. Soon, Sprint would offer him a full-time position making him the Health and Productivity program manager of well-being programs they offered across the country.
“It’s a great opportunity to do what I truly enjoy doing. I’m extremely passionate about what we do to help our employees and their families be healthy. We spend the majority of our life at work and it’s important that we promote health and well-being at the place you spend most of your time.”
Under his supervision, Sprint offers nutritional and wellness classes, condition assistance coaching, one-on-one telephonic and online wellness coaching for employees and their families. There is a fitness center at the Overland Park Sprint World Headquarters and Reston, VA campus with exercise classes and other wellness events. Several call centers also have an onsite fitness center that is open for employee usage. Finch understands that these types of programs are important to CEO’s because the overall health and well-being of employees and families influences and can save on overall company health care cost. Employee health and well-being at Sprint is much more than physically focused. They also offer retirement wealth programs, financial management seminars, emotional health programs and more. While Finch doesn’t supervise those classes, it’s part of a larger overall well-being strategy that he is quite proud of.
With his assistance, Sprint has received the Gold Award from the National Business Group on Health for Best Employers for Healthy Lifestyles® four of the past five years; they received the platinum award in 2014.
Finch chose OU for a couple different reasons. As a Wellsville native, it was close to home and he was comfortable and familiar with the area. He also saw it as a great place to get an education and after visiting campus was excited to become a Brave. There was also another key component to his decision to come to OU – Head Cross Country and Track and Field coach Kirk Wren.
“He was one of a few coaches that was recruiting me out of ACCC, but it wasn’t too difficult a decision after I spoke with him,” Finch said. “He has been a great mentor and friend. He’s helped so many people. He was one of the most important people in my college career.”
He learned many things from Wren during his time at OU and even worked as a student assistant for him in cross country. Finch said a lot of what Wren taught him has made an impact on his life, but perhaps the most important lesson was Coach Wren’s passion for academic and athletic excellence.
“Coach told me up front that he takes academics more seriously than the athletics when it comes to his students-athletes. Academics comes first. Athletics is important, but being a great student-athlete is more important. That has really stuck with me all these years. “
The respect and admiration is mutual between both men.
“Mike Finch is an amazing young man who added a lot of energy to the Ottawa University cross country and track program as a runner and coach,” said Wren. “He has a high level of professionalism and it’s been a pleasure watching him develop into an outstanding alumni, parent and friend to the program and community.”
While Finch’s career has traveled down many paths, he looks back to the point where it began and realizes the impact OU had on his life.
“I don’t think I understood just how much I learned, especially from a physical education standpoint, from OU until I got into my career. I didn’t truly value the education coming out of college. I knew I learned a lot and I wouldn’t say that I am surprised by much I did know when I graduated, but I didn’t realize just how prepared I was for a job until I had the opportunity to apply everything I had learned to my career.”