Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management
Gina Bruno came to Vanderbilt with a purpose: The former Booz Allen consultant wanted to learn business tools that would her to improve the quality of care enjoyed by patients. Based on her two years at Owen, she is well on her way to doing just that. Described as a “force of nature” by Professor Tim Vogus, Bruno served as the president of the Vanderbilt Health Care Club and the team lead in the school’s Project Pyramid in Botswana. Academically, she was elected twice by her peers to the Academic Honor Council, along with being only one of seven students to be named a Dean’s Scholar. Her team was also the runner-up in the 2014 Business School Alliance for Health Management (BAHM) Case Competition.
Hometown: Boston, MA
Undergraduate School: Harvard University
Undergraduate Degree: BA, Cum Laude, Government
Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Booz Allen Hamilton as an associate, Strategy and Change
Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA
Where will you be working after graduation? naviHealth as Director of Clinical Strategy
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I found myself (unexpectedly) single. I had been considering business school and a career change for a couple of years, and this was the jumpstart I needed!”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…in a new city—perhaps back home in Boston—pursuing a career in public service or healthcare and saving up for a trip to Italy with my family (finally).”
What are your long-term professional goals? I would like to serve as a senior strategy executive in a hospital or other healthcare organization, where I can improve the quality of life for aging and terminally ill Americans. End-of-life care is wrought with challenges, and the costs associated with end-of-life care are staggering. I believe we can do more to improve care for these patients and reduce costs by developing innovative business models in a for-profit setting. I hope to pursue roles in which I can drive change in this part of the care continuum, and I hope to continue to travel internationally to gain new perspectives on these issues. My new role as Director of Clinical Strategy at naviHealth is a great first step on this path!
Favorite Courses: Managing and Improving Processes, Health Innovation and Evaluation, Organizational Learning and Effectiveness, and Negotiation
Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? I am most proud of my accomplishments during my internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, ranked the #2 hospital in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The hospital received over 200 applications for its administrative internship program, and only four MBA candidates were selected. During my internship, I worked with Mara Bloom, the executive director of the Cancer Center, and led strategic internal consulting projects to increase funds for supportive care, to decrease costs related to end-of-life cancer care, and to expand the reach of the Cancer Center in Uganda. The unbridled dedication of my colleagues and the work itself solidified my plans to work in healthcare long-term.
Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my mom, who started her healthcare career transporting patients at 17 years old and who worked tirelessly to give my brother and I the opportunity to achieve all that we wanted. As a child, I begged her to take me to the library (almost daily) and she obliged every time, reading with me each night. She valued family and our humble roots, and she promised me that girls who work hard can grow up to be whatever they want to be—and she was right.
I also want to thank my father, who owned a small business for 25 years. When I was not at the library, I was working in his store or riding along with him for customer deliveries. He taught me the value of hard work and the importance of respecting your customers. But, to him, work was just the start. Life was about giving back to your community, offering even when you have little to give, and lending a voice to those who had been quieted. For these lessons, I am thankful.
For all those along that way who took a chance on me: Thank you.
Why did you choose this business school? I chose to apply to Owen, because I had committed myself to pursuing a new career in healthcare. I felt the school offered an exceptional Health Care MBA program centered on interdisciplinary and experiential learning in a small, collaborative setting. In my interview, when I shared my passion for healthcare with Consuela Knox, director of admissions operations and diversity recruiting manager, her face lit up with excitement, despite my lack of experience in the industry. As if that was not enough, we discovered our shared love of cooking while listening to 90’s hip-hop. I knew in that moment that I wanted Owen to be my home for the next two years.
What did you enjoy most about business school? I enjoyed the lazy afternoons, when I should have been in the library studying, but instead chose to sit in the lobby with a cup of coffee and my classmates, talking about everything from celebrity gossip to dining in Tokyo to protests in Ferguson. Everyone in business school has a personal story, beliefs, and unique interests that are not often shared in the classroom. In those unremarkable moments, I shared my story, too. In the “real world,” afternoons like these will be rare, so I cherished them, because they are where my truest friendships were forged.
What is your most memorable moment from business school? In 2014, two classmates and I competed in the Business School Alliance for Health Management (BAHM) Case Competition, in which we analyzed innovative models in healthcare technology. We road-tripped together to Memphis to interview the CEO of a healthcare analytics firm and toiled for hours and hours to perfect our case study and rehearse our presentation. On the day of the competition, nerves were running high—and Frozen was all the rage—so we let out some energy with a sing-along to “Let it Go” before presenting. Ultimately, we secured a second-place victory. What was most memorable, however, was standing alongside two strong, talented women who set the bar that day and who have become friends for life.
Fun fact about yourself: As a child, my brother and I recorded commercials for Radio Disney. Only one of us got tickets to Walt Disney World—and it wasn’t me.
Favorite book: There are two: War is a Force that Gives us Meaning by Chris Hedges, a book so engrossing that I missed my train stop one day, and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, which brought me to tears as I finished it.
Favorite movie: Boondock Saints
Favorite musical performer: Whitney Houston
Favorite television show: Lost
Favorite vacation spot: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
What are your hobbies? Cooking, exploring new restaurants, yoga, reading, hiking, traveling, and cheering for (or ranting about) Boston sports teams.
What made Gina such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?
“Gina Bruno is a force of nature. Her presence has been nothing short of transformative in her time at Owen. She has been a model in the classroom – brilliant, passionate, and thoughtful, yet humble. In doing so she always elevates the discourse in the room, deepens and extends the conversation in a way both practical and scholarly. She writes with the clarity, rigor, and sophistication of a seasoned author and researcher. This was evident in the award-winning case she co-authored. She has also worked diligently to transform the Owen health care curriculum by innovatively redesigning a foundational course on Health Care Delivery Organizations to rave reviews. In all things academic Gina embodies the scholar-leaders that the Owen Graduate School of Management is aspiring to cultivate. Her academic contributions alone merit this recognition, but Gina does so much more. She drives the collaborative and mission-driven culture of Owen through her leadership of the Vanderbilt Health Care Club, Honor Council, and Project Pyramid (focusing on business as an instrument of poverty alleviation). In the latter she has done amazing work with Holy Cross Hospice in Botswana and has extended this work on the critical and increasingly pressing issue of end of life care at Brookdale, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. For her dedication, excellence, and infectious curiosity and rigor in the classroom, her transformational leadership, and her devotion to making a profound difference across the globe in the lives of the most vulnerable and those who love them, Gina Bruno is one of the Top 50 Graduates of the MBA Class of 2015.”
– Tim Vogus, associate professor of management (and past P&Q 40 Profs Under 40)