01 Mar 2014
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Clubs Hopping: A Healthy Dialogue

by Daniel Morrell

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This past November, the HBS Healthcare Alumni Association held its 14th annual conference at the Charles Hotel in Boston, with more than 300 alumni coming to connect and hear from industry leaders. We asked HBSHAA president Tom Robinson (MBA 1989), managing partner of the life science executive search firm RobinsonButler, for a quick rundown of the day.

Was there a takeaway from the event that struck you—an insight that really resonated?

Kent Thiry (MBA 1983), cochairman and CEO of DaVita, one of the world's largest dialysis companies, talked about how he changed the culture of the struggling company, turning it into an industry leader. His insights on how he empowered his employees were really unique, and I heard many CEOs in the audience say that they wanted to start implementing some of his methods. Scott Huennekens (MBA 1991), president and CEO of Volcano Corporation, also shared his story of turning an early-stage medical device company into a market leader with about $400 million in revenues. His plan included adding and integrating significant and complex acquisitions as well as empowering his employees to keep moving forward despite obstacles and giving them the courage to make decisions in challenging situations.

Health care reform was making national headlines—and not in a good way—about the time the conference was held. Did you find that it quelled optimism or that people simply viewed it as another challenge to be addressed?

Both Ben Sasse [US Senate candidate from Nebraska and former US Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services] and Don Berwick [former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and current Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate] said that our health care system is broken and badly in need of change. They also noted that the President was focusing on trying to get more people covered and shifting more of the costs to wealthy people while reducing costs to those with lesser incomes. But there was much debate about how to shift those costs, what is fair and not fair, and how far the insurance companies will go to support this plan. None have publicly come out against it, but many believe it will be coming soon. It seems like the big insurance companies are just waiting for people to revolt, and then they will join in—in a big way.  —Dan Morrell


London

More than 150 local HBS alumni attended a December networking breakfast cohosted by the Harvard Business School Alumni Office and the HBS Club of London. The event included a presentation by Dean Nitin Nohria in which he shared updates and exchanged ideas about the mission and priorities of the School.

 

In Profile, Extraordinary Alumnae

From Lillian Lincoln Lambert (MBA 1969), a child of the segregated South who would become the first black woman to earn an MBA at HBS, to Mia Mends (MBA 2003), who emigrated from Ghana to escape civil unrest, the HBS African American Alumni Association is profiling some of its outstanding female members. Lambert and Mends are among the initial alumnae profilees at www.hbsaaa.net in a project whose goal is to create a total of 50 profiles in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first full-time MBA women at Harvard.

"These women are exemplary leaders from a variety of career paths," says HBSAAA president Kenneth Powell (MBA 1974), who leads the organization's 2,300 members. "All of them," he notes, "are giving back to their communities." Explains Ivy Jack (MPA/MBA 2004), head of the association's W50 Celebration Committee, "For our profile subjects, we're selecting HBSAAA alumnae who've been recommended by our members as women of the African diaspora who are making a difference in the world. It's been a revelation to learn more about the extraordinary lives and experiences of our African American alumnae."
  —Garry Emmons

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Class of MBA 1989, Section I
Class of MBA 1983, Section C
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Class of MBA 1991, Section B

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