20 Under 40: Tal Cohen

Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Tal Cohen

Tal Cohen, 37

Manager of Provider Data Strategy, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

Mantra: #togetherindistance

Quarantine projects: Family health and safety was the top priority, but once we figured that out and set a daily routine, our plan was to stay in touch with the community (via Zoom) and be outside in our yard as much as possible ... since we have three young children that are very active.

What motivates you? I bring in and encourage diversity, and while leaving the world as a better place is a big statement, we try to live by it within our family and community.

Has the pandemic changed your outlook in any way? No, it's just another challenge we have to deal with and adjust around. I learned that change is something that is always going to happen and I find this pandemic to simply be another change in our lifestyle or hygiene, but we will get though it together as a community.

One thing you couldn't live without? My family, here and in Israel. We cherish our Jewish culture and language (Hebrew) and stay in touch with everyone by leveraging technology available to us.

What's something you can't have in your house? Pork, lol. We are Jewish.

What do you credit for where you are today? My exposure to organizational culture, innovation and leadership in the military early on in my career, and the programs or mentors that helped shape my leadership skills as my career developed. My mentors gave me tools to develop and the ability to make good, solid decisions. I give them the credit for where I'm at today.

What's one thing about Chattanooga you'd change? I'd attract more startups and companies to invest in our city. I think that's the key that will bring more talent and families into the area. If I can pick another item, it would be investing in public education, which is shaping the future generations to make an impact.

What (else) did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a professional basketball player. I was able to play professionally in Israel for a few years and here in the U.S. as a D1 student-athlete, but then decided to turn pro in another profession (IT and data) and have loved doing it ever since.

One thing you wish you'd known at the start of your career? Value the exposure to leadership and mentoring, as those are critical to develop your career. I think young employees focus their efforts on the job title, experience and benefits, which are all important, but forget that mentorship and exposure are key to success, too.