Drew Asher

Serving a purpose beyond the numbers

Fisher School of Accounting alumnus Drew Asher says a successful business career is built on strong operational and financial performance as well as social responsibility.

Drew Asher knew he was interested in studying business when he came to the University of Florida, but wasn’t exactly sure which discipline would be best. The approach he took to choosing a major was slightly different than what most 18-year-old freshman might be tempted to do.  

“I started asking around about what the most difficult major within business was,” the West Palm Beach-native said. “My mentality in coming to college was to get a job, and I figured I could get a job by having an in-demand skill set.”

At the time, the consensus was accounting, and Asher (BASc ’90) jumped in.

“I didn’t [initially] do it for the love of accounting,” he joked. “I didn’t even know what it was at the time. But once I got into the major, I loved it.”

Asher’s learned love of accounting led him to pursue a master’s in taxation from the University of Central Florida and his first job out of college at Deloitte. While Asher believes the academics within the Fisher School of Accounting well prepared him for his role at Deloitte, he also credits the multitude of opportunities he had outside of the classroom with giving him the skills he needed to be successful.

“The University of Florida really prepared me well as much outside of the classroom as it did inside the classroom,” he said. “The ecosystem at Florida complements the base of knowledge you receive and enables you to do your job and do it effectively.”

In the roughly five years Asher spent with Deloitte, he worked to problem solve issues within multiple industries. Like with choosing to pursue accounting, the healthcare industry seemed an exciting challenge for Asher to take on when thinking about how he could advance his career. It was then that Asher decided to leave Deloitte for a role within a small healthcare management firm. With that step, Asher launched into the kind of successful career path people dream about.

That path includes positions like Senior Vice President at Coventry Health Care, Divisional Chief Financial Officer at Aetna, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at WellCare Health Plans, and currently, Executive Vice President, Envolve Specialty, at Centene Corporation and CEO of Envolve Pharmacy Solutions.

During his time at Coventry, Asher led 25 mergers and acquisitions, as well as grew the company’s revenue from $2 billion to $14 billion by the time Coventry was sold to Aetna. In his role at Aetna, Asher was responsible for $30 billion of revenue across commercial, Medicare and specialty business. At WellCare, Asher presided over revenue growth from $14 billion to $30 billion.

While Asher is proud of the role he’s played in growing the companies he’s worked for over the years, what means the most to him is something the husband and father of two children and three dogs says he didn’t realize until the middle of his career – serving a purpose beyond the numbers.

“Besides driving strong operating and financial performance, I also love having a social purpose in what I do and working for a company that is solving problems that need to be addressed,” he said. “Especially in my work at WellCare and Centene, in serving the medically complex and economically challenged populations, it’s really fulfilling to know you’re improving people’s lives.”

Working to improve people’s lives has also trickled into Asher’s personal life. As a current board member of Southeastern Guide Dogs, an organization that provides guide dogs for the vision-impaired and veterans, Asher notes the importance of using business skills to further social goals.

“That’s the sweet spot, the nirvana, of a successful business career,” he said.

While Asher says it took him a while to realize this, it’s something he believes students understand and value as they pursue life after college.   

“The generations coming out of college now already have an appreciation for social responsibility within business,” he said. “Millennials and Gen Z come out knowing that they want to serve a purpose.”

Asher admires this quality, and notices it among many other strong attributes of students at the Warrington College of Business during his visits to campus.

“I’m so impressed with the caliber of students at UF,” he said. “Last year, at a lunch and learn session with students, the questions I was getting from them were better than those I get from investors. I love being able to help connect what they’re learning in the classroom and books with real-world experiences and what happens in the capital markets.

They make me proud and make my degree more valuable!”