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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Tom Hickey

MBA 2021

What initially sparked your interest in the healthcare industry?
My entry into the healthcare industry was largely accidental. I studied engineering as an undergraduate and wanted to work for a technology company upon graduation. I ended up going to work for the Wisconsin-based electronic health record company Epic. This choice was driven by my desire to work for a fast-growing technology company – and not necessarily because Epic was in healthcare.

My passion for healthcare was discovered soon after I began understanding the challenges my clients faced. The US healthcare system is incredibly complex, rife with inefficiencies, but also capable of producing significant good. The source of my passion for the industry comes from the hope and promise of what the US healthcare system could become.

How have you benefited from being a member of the Healthcare Club Executive Board?
My role as Vice President of Entrepreneurship & Innovation has allowed me to take on projects that both benefited the school and helped develop me personally. In the fall, I was on the team that wrote the prompt for our annual case competition. This exercise proved to be just as academically rigorous as any class I have taken in the program. Writing the case turned into a not-so-small consulting engagement. It required wide-ranging research that ultimately needed to be crystallized into a compelling business problem for the teams to solve. The whole experience was extremely rewarding – especially getting to see the different teams’ creative solutions to the prompt.

I am also leading the team that is planning the spring’s Healthcare Entrepreneurship & Innovation Exchange, which will be hosted virtually on Thursday, April 8th. The exchange is an opportunity for students to learn from healthcare innovators who are working to positively disrupt the industry. In building out our speaker and panelist list, I have gotten the opportunity to interact with many visionary people.

Do you have any advice for incoming and current students?
The best advice I can give an incoming student is to treat yourself like a small business.

When you enter into a full-time MBA program, you become your own CEO. You have full control over what you prioritize and how you invest your time. Unlike the professional world where most of your priorities are dictated by business need, the MBA program is exclusively what you make of it.

With so many opportunities offered in the program, you need be goal oriented and make sure your time is invested accordingly. Seek opportunities that help you achieve your goals and don’t be afraid to say “no” to opportunities that don’t align with your goals.

Finally, don’t forget to invest time in relaxing – even CEOs take vacation.

If you could have dinner with anyone who is currently alive, who would it be?
It would have to be Bill Gates. In many ways, I think he embodies the good that capitalism can be (Microsoft’s antitrust history aside). As an engineer, he created software that produced tremendous value for society. As a business leader, he was able to anticipate the needs of his customers and position his company to meet them. As a philanthropist, he appears to be taking a methodical approach not seen since Rockefeller. I would want to focus the dinner’s conversation on his second act as co-chair of the Gates Foundation. I would bend his ear on how he has maintained his optimism for global health’s prospects despite the setbacks COVID has caused.