I saw myself becoming a surgeon ever since I was a little kid. But after medical school at Harvard and beginning to work as a physician, I found I was interested in helping to influence that system not in the traditional path of 20 years but in 5-10 years. That point came in my third year when I was walking around the wards learning how difficult it was to provide quality care for patients because the whole system didn’t work very well together. To go after that problem and work with companies and governments to solve it became what I am most passionate about.
On a more personal level, I’m a person who needs to be challenged. I need to be in a dynamic environment where I’m constantly excited about facing interesting problems. I found that medicine to me was very algorithmic: I felt I could master the information in a couple of years and be a fine doctor, but it didn’t have the appeal of long term personal growth. I was always straddling that question of, how do I make the ideas I have work in industry or in government? That’s precisely where McKinsey plays and where as a physician or scientist, you don’t really have to.
I’ll never forget the partners I worked with during my first client study. They have started companies, traveled the world, and they have a lot of experience to draw from. I learned how to be effective by watching them in action.
The first time I had to lead a meeting, it was with a pharmaceutical client, and I was sitting there, somewhat nervous, not knowing what to say. The two clients started arguing. I had absolutely no idea how to stop them. The partner on the study asked a very simple question about the product we were helping them with, and they looked at him and both fundamentally saw the question in the same way. From that point of commonality he was able to take them through the rest of the thinking and get them to align. It was incredibly powerful.
Our client, a national healthcare provider, was facing the problem of how to provide better quality care and incentivize all their government hospitals to do the same. We helped them think about how to evaluate the process of bringing providers on board to provide high quality care for a patient population that really needed it. What got me excited was sitting down with the regional health authorities and helping them figure out what services they were lacking in their region, and how to design a program that could benefit the population. Some patients waited 6 or 9 months for certain procedures and we were helping our client figure out how to change this to bring better quality services to the patients, more quickly.
I often get asked “How do you use your degree in what you do?” At McKinsey we serve hospitals, payors, pharmaceutical companies, global public health initiatives, as well as clients outside of healthcare, in the financial, industrial, energy, media, or insurance industries. As a physician, regardless of where I’m serving in any of those areas, I’m constantly using my medical knowledge. It’s everything from me having been exposed to a hospital environment and understanding that dynamic, to my ability to acquire new scientific information, and directly applying my medical knowledge to a question a client might have about a product. The fact that I spent four years getting a medical degree has really helped advance my career as a consultant at McKinsey. And there’s a ton of appreciation within the firm and among my clients for me having this background.
Advice for APDs
If you love taking care of people and love having that impact on the life of an individual patient, there is no substitute for medical practice. If you are interested in affecting change at a broader level and you’re passionate about leadership and healthcare systems, then McKinsey is the place to develop or to start exploring that. Yesterday I was having lunch with the governor of a state in the South and talked to him about the healthcare problems his state is facing. At this point in time my colleague would probably be finishing a 24-hour shift in a hospital emergency room. It’s all about what you want out of life.
|Harvard Medical School
|Kennedy School of Government
||AB, AM, Neurobiology, Molecular Biology