With a father in the US Air Force, Vivian Hunt (MBA 1995) moved often as a young girl, living in places as far flung as Montana, Alabama, and Japan. That experience was difficult at times, but it developed her ability to engage across cultures—a trait she built on during a two-year Peace Corps posting to Senegal. Hunt had hoped to work with entrepreneurs, but was instead assigned to a midwifery program. “It was overwhelming and humbling,” she says. “But it was also so rewarding to help people when their needs were most acute.”
In Senegal, Hunt learned the lifesaving power of centralizing and scaling local knowledge. Back in the United States, that realization led Hunt to explore other aspects of the health care industry’s value chain, from billing to insurance to product development. “I loved the sense that I was working in an area that was vitally important to the economy and to people’s health and well-being,” she says.
At HBS, Hunt saw her MBA coursework as an opportunity to build on what she had learned and to make a difference through diversity and scale. “There were so many students who had been working in very different fields from the one I’d chosen,” she recalls. “The diversity of professional experiences and personal stories created a great environment for learning and helped me expand my network.”
Now a senior partner and the managing partner of McKinsey’s UK and Ireland offices, Hunt has used the firm’s global footprint to scale the impact she had when she led its Pharmaceutical and Medical Products Practice in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. And as a member of the global board of directors, she has spearheaded flagship research linking diversity to performance, championing the notion that increased participation in the workforce (particularly by women) isn’t just a social good but improves performance within organizations and in wider economies.
A London resident of two decades, Hunt serves on numerous UK boards, including the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board, the Tate Modern, HRH Prince of Wales’ Business in the Community, and the Henry Smith Charity. In 2017, Hunt was made a Dame in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for services to the economy and to women in business, recognizing her work as a “powerful advocate for nontraditional voices in the corporate world.”
“I feel strongly that if you want to make a difference,” says Hunt, “you have to engage on a global scale with organizations of all types—governments, private corporations, philanthropic bodies, and small and large businesses.”
(Published March 2018)
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