A one month vacation? Pack Health recently added a special benefit for its employees: An employee sabbatical program. After five years of continuous full-time employment, anyone can take a month off to fulfill a goal, build a skill, or do research – no strings attached. Dave Masom, Pack Health’s Director of Product Management, is the first to take the opportunity. We asked him about his history with the company and how an extended trip overseas helped him unplug.

How long have you worked at Pack Health, and how has your position evolved?

Five years. It’s evolved a ton! I joined Rob Ginter in Operations when we were in a single room at Innovation Depot and helped set up our initial system on Salesforce. After that, I created the Outcomes team to focus on how we collect and use data in our program. In 2016, I took over managing Pack Health’s “product,” which at the time meant the pack itself, but has increasingly evolved to mean the technology and processes that support the member experience, Health Advisor experience, and our customers.

Tell us where you went for your sabbatical!

Patagonia! Most of my time was spent in Chile, but I also hopped across the border to Argentina for the middle part of the trip.

What was your favorite part of your trip?

The O Circuit in Torres Del Paine National Park. This is an eight-day, 70-mile hike that includes a trip over a mountain pass at 3,871 feet above sea level where we experienced winds at about 70 mph. That day was 11 hours of hiking, but it was worth it for the views of Glacier Grey that you get below you after you cross the pass.

What was the most valuable thing you learned while being away from the office?

The importance of taking true breaks for your productivity and mental well-being (this is a lesson I need to learn again and again). And perhaps just as importantly, I learned how to make empanadas and a good pisco sour ;-).

How did having time off work contribute to your mental health?

Being able to totally disconnect was incredibly valuable. Even with a weeklong break, it’s hard to completely stop thinking about work. With a month, I had to hand over all my responsibilities, and so it was actually easier to let go. Just being able to hike, eat, explore, read — basically do anything not work-related — helped me to recharge and as appreciate all the things about my regular life (including my work at Pack Health!) that are rewarding and that I was able to look forward to when I got back.

How did your teammates handle you being away?

They did fantastically! We planned out our work in advance so that the team knew what they needed to work on and were empowered to make decisions as needed while I was gone.

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