On a recent wintry afternoon, Mark T. Bertolini, the 58-year-old chief executive of Aetna, the health insurer, was sitting in his Hartford office wearing a dark suit and a crisp, white, French-cuffed shirt. But instead of a necktie, he wore a shiny metal amulet engraved with the Sanskrit characters “sohum.”Roughly translated, sohum means “I am that,” and repeating the phrase is used to help control breathing in meditation. Mr. Bertolini says the word also signifies a divine connection with the universe. (He has a similar design tattooed on his back.)In case there was any doubt, Mr. Bertolini, who runs one of America’s 100 largest companies by revenue, wants to make it clear he is a different sort of C.E.O.Continue reading the main storyRelated Coverage App Smart: Video Feature: Apps for Meditation and Calming on iPhone and AndroidFEB. 25, 2015 Snowmen represent countries around the world at an exhibition in Davos, Switzerland. Amid the Chattering of the Global Elite, a Silent InterludeJAN. 21, 2015 Suze Yalof Schwartz at Unplug, her new meditation studio in Los Angeles. Mrs. Schwartz, a former magazine editor in New York, says her program is for “Type A personalities: clean, modern, secular, effortless to attend.” Scene Stealers: Inventing a Drybar for MeditationNOV. 14, 2014 A meditation meeting at the Path in Manhattan. How to Find a Job With Meditation and MindfulnessNOV. 21, 2014In recent years, following a near-death experience, Mr. Bertolini set about overhauling his own health regimen, as well reshaping the culture of Aetna with a series of eyebrow-raising moves. He has offered free yoga and meditation classes to Aetna employees; more than 13,000 workers have participated. He began selling the same classes to the businesses that contract with Aetna for their health insurance. And in January, after reading “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the treatise on inequality by the French economist Thomas Piketty, Mr. Bertolini gave his lowest-paid employees a 33 percent raise.Taken together, these moves have transformed a stodgy insurance company into one of the most progressive actors in corporate America. Most health insurance companies are thriving, largely because of increased enrollment. Aetna’s stock has increased threefold since Mr. Bertolini took over as chief executive in 2010, and recently hit a record high. It’s a decidedly groovy moment for the company, and Mr. Bertolini is reveling in his role as an idealistic, unconventional corporate chieftain.NEXT
Mark Bertolini, the unconventional chief executive of Aetna, the health insurer,
Aetna employees at a yoga class at its headquarters in Hartford, Conn. The health insurer also offers its workers meditation classes.