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Dr. Laura Furstenthal

Senior PartnerBay Area

Serves healthcare clients globally as well as not-for-profit organizations, governments, and Nobel laureates, guiding innovation in strategy, organization, research and development, commercialization, and operations

Laura is a leader within the global Healthcare Practice. She serves clients in the pharmaceutical, medical-device, insurance, construction, automotive, and other sectors across Asia, Europe, and the United States. In addition, she leads innovation transformations—including digital, analytics, agile organization, and new business model development—across industries.

In her advisory work in the healthcare sector, Laura draws on strong expertise in making commercial operations more efficient and cost effective, from sales and distribution to physician and patient services. Taking a broader view, she also focuses on setting successful competitive strategies, helping healthcare sector companies grow and thrive while maximizing healthcare value for all.

When working across industries, Laura focuses on identifying and delivering growth from new sources, such as new products, services, technologies, and business models. To do so, she brings creative approaches and proven methodologies for delivering successful innovation. Also in this capacity, she has helped establish innovation-transformation partnerships with companies in the healthcare, high tech, automotive, insurance, consumer, and public sectors, and with not-for-profit foundations. These efforts often include establishing a clear innovation vision and aspiration, ensuring effective operating models to deliver internal and external innovation solutions, and developing new product and service concepts.

Examples of her recent client work include the following:

  • advising pharmaceutical companies as they make commercial operations more efficient, including efforts to optimize sales, marketing, and distribution efforts and provide better patient and physician support services
  • setting value-based strategies for payers, providers, and manufacturers to reduce overall healthcare costs and improve quality
  • leading efforts to create and establish partnerships with accountable care organizations and consumer-driven health exchanges to increase healthcare value
  • developing the vision, strategy, and operating model to deliver innovative new business offerings for life-science, insurance, consumer, automotive, and other industry leaders and disruptive new entrants
  • supporting digital transformation for industry leading organizations, including establishing digital transformation offices, identifying and prioritizing use cases, and rapidly building prototypes that can be tested with customers, iterated, and scaled
  • leading organizational development, capability building, and scale-up for agile transformations within industry-leading companies seeking to keep pace with rapidly evolving industry contexts and threats of disruption

Beyond client service, Laura is the leader of McKinsey’s annual West Coast Women’s Summit (keynote speakers include Geena Davis, Condoleezza Rice, and Sheryl Sandberg). She has authored publications in journals, including Nature, and speaks regularly at innovation and women’s leadership conferences. Laura also serves on multiple boards, including the California Academy of Sciences, the American Diabetes Association in the Bay Area, and Seven Hills School.

Published work

Taking fear out of innovation,” McKinsey & Company, March 2023

Steadfast but nimble: CEO Christi Shaw on cancer treatment’s cutting edge,” McKinsey & Company, January 2023

Committed innovators: How masters of essentials outperform,” McKinsey & Company, June 2022

Fear factor: Overcoming human barriers to innovation,” McKinsey & Company, June 2022

The Committed Innovator: Women continuing to change the world,” McKinsey & Company, March 2022

Innovation—the launchpad out of the crisis,” McKinsey & Company, September 2021

Where are all the women innovators? Here’s a start,” McKinsey & Company, May 2021

The essentials of healthcare innovation,” McKinsey & Company, May 2021

Genomic sequencing: A vital tool in combatting the pandemic,” McKinsey & Company, April 2021

Innovation: Your launchpad out of the COVID-19 crisis,” McKinsey & Company, March 2021

The biopharma marketer of the future: Closing the gap,” McKinsey & Company, November 2020

Healthcare innovation: Building on gains made through the crisis,” McKinsey & Company, November 2020

Innovation in a crisis: Why it is more critical than ever,” McKinsey & Company, June 2020

The outlook for personalized medicine” (PDF—7.46 MB), McKinsey & Company, March 2013

The microeconomics of personalized medicine, a compendium published by McKinsey’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices R&D Practice, February 2010

What drives success for specialty pharmaceuticals?,” Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, July 2008


Stanford University, School of Medicine
PhD, cancer biology

Harvard University
AB, biology