Forum, executives put careers in healthcare in spotlight

An executive speaks at the Healthcare Forum

When someone says “healthcare,” the first things that comes to mind are probably doctors, nurses, and hospitals. But beyond the obvious components lies a vast and growing industry that has great career potential for Farmer School students.

“Healthcare is one of the biggest sectors of the economy. So I think that obviously creates a huge amount of opportunity,” Centene Corporation executive vice president and chief strategy officer Jesse Hunter explained. “It's not one industry, it's a whole collection of industries. So there’s lots of variability.”

Hunter and executives from Stryker, Aetna/CVS, Agendia, Cleveland Clinic, Tempus Labs, and Eli Lilly and Company – almost all Miami graduates -- spent two days at the Farmer School, talking with students and faculty about their careers, their experiences and their company’s part of the healthcare economy.

A recurring theme in their discussions with students focused on the kind of person who finds themselves drawn to working for healthcare companies. “I think we actually have an advantage for business students because of the mission of what we do. When you have the opportunity to make an impact on healthcare, it allows us the opportunity to deliver on trying to make the world a little better place,” Stryker group president Spencer Stiles said. “They can say, ‘I want to join a company that has a mission that surrounds this and literally is driven to make the healthcare place better.’”

Some students may think they don’t know enough about healthcare to be qualified to work in the industry, but Carrie Chapman, head of global sales effectiveness at Aetna International, said that the skills needed in healthcare business are the same as those in other industries. “I think a lot of what you learn on the job is the technical aspects in terms of learning the healthcare business and industry. I really think the critical skills are the soft skills -- leadership, being articulate, communicating your point, summarizing information that you've learned, and understanding your audience to communicate points to that audience because people don't understand healthcare. How do you translate it to somebody who does not understand? And that's a harder skill than people realize -- how do you make something hard sound very simple?”

“Empathy is certainly one of the healthcare-specific attributes needed, and passion for helping others as part of that. But I think most of the skills to make people successful in healthcare would make people successful for anything else -- agility and flexibility, problem solving skills, and I'd say most importantly, the ability to work well with others,” Hunter pointed out.

“Critical thinking, strong leadership skills, decision making, and the ability to cultivate and find the future leaders of tomorrow,” Stiles said. ‘So it's really still about talent. It's about understanding people, and it's about figuring out how to make sure people continue to grow and prosper so they're better tomorrow than they are today.”

Stiles said he’s found that Oxford is a great place to find future employees with the skills they need to succeed. “One of the things I've always loved about Farmer School students and Miami in general is their ability to have the strong interpersonal skills, communicate and think strategically on their feet. So they're usually pretty sharp, so they have the intellect, but on top of that, they're able to articulate it in a way that makes sense to say, ‘Hey, we're solving a problem, here's a solution, here's another diverse, unique point of view.’ And Farmer students seem to be better than most when it comes to being challenged with some of those challenges and opportunities.”

Check out more photos from the forum and presentations