2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Taylor Henning, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Taylor Henning

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

StrengthsFinder: Achiever, Learner, Individualization, Woo, Realtor. I work hard, but love to have a good time.”

Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas

Fun fact about yourself: I went to the emergency room a lot as a kid – six times before the age of 8. Maybe that’s what spurred my passion for healthcare!

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bachelor of Science in Public Health

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Huron Consulting Group, Healthcare Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? UNC Health Care, Strategy Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? Atrium Health, Charlotte, North Carolina – Administrative Fellow

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Healthcare Club – President (2018-19), University Engagement Liaison (2017-18)
  • Dean’s Fellows – Executive Steering Committee Member
  • Family Planning National Training Center program – Research Assistant (2017-18)
  • Forte Foundation Fellowship & A.L. Hobgood, Jr. Fellowship
  • Co-author of white paper, UNC Kenan-Flagler Center for the Business of Health
  • Independent study providing research to support a local foodbank that feeds over 75,000 individuals annually

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am very proud of my role as the Healthcare Club president. The Healthcare Club has about 140 members, and developing a nationally renowned healthcare program is a top priority for the faculty and administration at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

In my role as president, I engaged and collaborated with a phenomenal group of 12 students who took on VP roles. Together, we led the planning of the largest UNC Kenan-Flagler Healthcare Conference to date with over 55 speakers and 300 participants. My team also hosted the first ever National Interdisciplinary Healthcare Case Competition in which we invited teams of interdisciplinary students from universities around the country to participate. Additionally, we planned the first International Alumni Night at UNC Kenan-Flagler, helped launch an alumni mentorship program for healthcare students, successfully grew the Healthcare Entrepreneurship & Innovation Exchange, coordinated multiple learning and development sessions, and streamlined communication to better communicate opportunities for our members. Needless to say, this group of VPs and the first-year MBA liaisons are incredible. I’m proud of my ability to empower, support, challenge, and encourage them as we accomplished clearly defined goals and contributed to making UNC Kenan-Flagler a national leader in the business of health.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of turning my most terrifying, “can-I-really-do-this?” moment into a rewarding, valuable learning experience. I previously worked as a consultant in clinical operations at Huron Consulting Group, helping hospitals run more efficiently so patients could discharge at an earlier time.

Healthcare, and especially health systems, are complicated. So my 22-year-old self wasn’t entirely confident providing insights to seasoned healthcare executives. But I put my head down and worked hard to learn everything I could. Long story short, after one year in my role, my confidence in the progress I made was shattered when the associate I reported to unexpectedly quit. This left us with quite a mess as the trust had been damaged with the client and no transition of information had taken place. I reassured myself that my manager would bring in an internal all-star to backfill the position and get us back on track. I was shocked when, the next day, I was told that I would step into this position with no backfill for my role. I would oversee the functional area and “own” a key client relationship: the director of case management within the hospital (who by the way, was rightfully very frustrated with the events that had unfolded). Cue: exhausting self-doubt.

The night after receiving the news that I would act as the new associate, I was overwhelmed. But as I lay in bed, a sense of empowerment came over me and I knew I had a choice: I could either buckle under the pressure or I could do everything in my power to knock it out of the park, win back the client’s trust and approval, and step-up for my team. Fast-forward six months and both our team and hospital client were incredibly satisfied with the work we accomplished together. For the next project, I was officially promoted to associate. Fast forward four years, and I’m still getting lunch with the former director (now VP) who had initially been skeptical of my ability but ended as a champion of the work and a friend.

Why did you choose this business school? My experience as an undergraduate at UNC was incredibly positive, so UNC Kenan-Flagler was a natural business school for me to explore. As I learned more about UNC Kenan-Flagler, I found the same culture I loved as an undergrad: a culture defined by collaboration, ambition, passion, and fun. I knew I would be challenged with a rigorous core curriculum and rewarded with endless opportunities for growth. I was also really impressed by the administration’s desire and commitment to developing a top healthcare business program. After I was extended the opportunity to be a Dean’s Fellow, my decision was solidified. Not to mention, Chapel Hill is one of the best college towns there is!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be authentic! We have a strong sense of community at UNC Kenan-Flagler, and I believe everyone can find their ‘place’ here. That sense of community also instills in our students the need to leave the school better than we found it. Think about ways you want to be involved – in clubs, mentorship programs, student representatives, community services, etc. – and highlight that in your applications and interviews. Demonstrate interest in the school by speaking with staff and students, taking a tour, and sitting in on a lecture so you can articulate how accepting you as an applicant would be mutually beneficial for both you and UNC Kenan-Flagler.

What is the biggest myth about your school? We hate Duke. It’s a myth that helps fuel the greatest rivalry in college athletics, and as a “double Tar Heel” it’s one I could (should?) get behind. But there’s an important addition to that sentence to make it true: We hate losing to Duke (and we love beating them). In reality, we interact with Duke students quite frequently, and our collaboration continues to grow. Each year, we co-host the “Blue Cup,” a series of games/matches in various sports and activities that brings our schools together for some healthy competition. We also participate in the same case competitions, host each other at conferences, and network at club-sponsored happy hours. This helps broaden our personal and professional networks, and we are fortunate to be so close geographically. (Note: Carolina Blue will always be the best shade of blue.)

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Business school has really challenged me to think about how I spend my time. It has made me more intentional in all areas of life. Schoolwork alone keeps us extremely busy and, as I’ve mentioned, there are so many opportunities for leadership roles and engagement in clubs and extracurricular activities. I believe it is incredibly important to spend quality time with friends and loved ones. Time is a limited resource, so my experience at business school has really pushed me to figure out my priorities; learn to say “no” to things that may be interesting but don’t align with those priorities, and use my time efficiently and purposefully.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have some amazing classmates. I particularly admire Delphis Vera. Delphis is incredibly accomplished: he’s a physician by background, worked for the U.S. military doing biomedical research, and is an international student who moved here from Lima, Peru. He’s currently working part-time as a healthcare informatics consultant while completing his MBA, and he’s a husband and a father of three young children.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Delphis in my role as Healthcare Club President; he was our VP of international experience this past year. In this role, Delphis led the planning of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s first- ever International Alumni Night, hosted by the Healthcare Club in partnership with other Career Clubs. The idea originated from Delphis – he saw the need for more support for international students during the career search process. The event was a fabulous opportunity for alumni to share their career search insights, offer words of encouragement, and network with students. I admire his commitment to improving the community around him while balancing his family life, working toward career goals, and remaining a dedicated student.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I am incredibly lucky my parents are such supporters of higher education. My mom is a teacher and understands how education changes lives. When I was in elementary school, my dad would buy me t-shirts with logos of colleges I’d never heard of, but “should consider” nonetheless. Growing up in that environment, I always planned to pursue the educational opportunities that made sense for my career goals. As an undergraduate, I studied health policy and management and developed a valuable skillset and knowledge of healthcare. I saw an MBA as a way to supplement those skills with more business acumen and better equip myself to make cross-functional decisions. When I talked to my dad seriously about earning an MBA, he encouraged me wholeheartedly. He received his MBA from Kelley (Indiana) and articulated the value of the degree, emphasizing the perspective, tools, and credibility it would lend me. He read over my essays, discussed interview questions with me, and has cheered me on throughout this journey.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? In our core curriculum, there is a grading scale: H = High Pass, P = Pass, Low = Low Pass. The core is stressful and, of course, everyone has high aspirations to obtain the esteemed H remark. To alleviate some of the stress, my friends and I started calling each other HPGs, which stands for “High Pass Gal/Guy” for small accomplishments or pick-me-ups outside of the classroom. Get a workout in? HPG! Cook a great meal? HPG! Find time to squeeze in a nap? Come on, everyone knows HPGs need to be well-rested.

I’ll admit, it’s a little dorky and is likely one of those “you have to be there” things, but as sleep-deprived MBA students, we get a kick out of it.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…lacking a broader perspective on innovative solutions to common problems across industries.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? If I have to place a number on it, I’d say $3,000,816. How did I reach that value? In true MBA fashion, I made some rough estimations in Excel. Research from Forbes indicates that MBAs, on average, earn about 50 percent more on their starting salary post-MBA. Five years after an MBA, this jumps to 80 percent compared to pre-MBA. Making a blanket assumption that both my pre- and post-MBA salaries would grow at 3 percent annually for the next 30 years, the difference in sums lands right around $3 million. And this is strictly financially. There are so many intangible benefits from earning an MBA. Rest assured, I did not pay $3,000,000 for my MBA, so it is definitely worth more!

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Run a marathon
  • Attend the Super Bowl, NCAA Basketball National Championship, World Series, the Masters, Stanley Cup, Wimbledon and the Olympics.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I hope my peers remember me as someone who cares about their success and happiness, as well as someone who is positive, approachable, and hard-working.

Hobbies? Traveling, running, attending sporting events, reading, spending time with family and friends, learning to cook

What made Taylor such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“Taylor Henning’s impact on the Class of 2019 can be seen in her work in the classroom and on all of our healthcare initiatives. I have had the good fortune to teach her in multiple classes and work closely with her as we have been building the Center for the Business of Health.

Taylor is truly an exceptional student and leader. We were lucky to have her as a student in the Class of 2019. She is a smart, positive leader who works well with others. She is organized, determined, and hard-working. She has shown an ability to thrive in uncertain and ambiguous environments.

Having taught her in three classes in her first year at UNC Kenan-Flagler, let me start by highlighting Taylor’s academic excellence. I saw her in three different topical environments: analytics, operations, and a survey healthcare course. She excelled in each one. She was comfortable with the technical topics that we covered in analytics and operations – explaining topics clearly to others and then performing well on homework and tests. The healthcare course involved understanding and integrating the many complex challenges that make up our 21st-century healthcare environment. She excelled in moving across the many parts of the healthcare value chain. In addition, the class had many visitors and she was able to ask thoughtful questions that brought together the many threads of the course. Throughout all of this she helped her classmates to learn the skills they will need to be effective now and going forward.

Taylor converted her academic knowledge into practical action when she helped me to write a white paper about the challenges in healthcare and our focus areas for our Business of Healthcare Initiative. She and I talked at a high-level about a number of issues and then she quickly converted them into clear problems with suggested solutions. This work served as the foundation for the launch of our Center for the Business of Health.

Not only has she contributed to the academic side of the program, but Taylor is a strong leader who had an impact on our healthcare efforts in a way that will be seen for years. She is the president of the Healthcare Club at UNC Kenan-Flagler. As a result, I work closely with her in advancing our joint goals.

Taylor starts is a strategic thinker. She not only thoughtfully chose her leadership team but also took them through a strategic planning process for the upcoming year. Although she can step back and think about the bigger picture she also excels in getting things done. She works well with her team and the administration to turn ideas quickly into action. I have been quite impressed with Taylor’s ability to shift between the big picture – thinking about what should be done – and then getting into the details to make it happen. Already her impact on the club can be seen as she helped to create the first-ever National Case Competition, the first health-oriented Day of Service in partnership with Diversity Clubs and the first ever International Alumni Night.

Taylor is truly a unique student. I do not know of anyone else who brings such compelling talents and also is such a joy to work with. She brought this passion, energy, and skill to create a foundation for our healthcare efforts, enable students to engage in new and important opportunities, and help all of us to learn.”

Brad Staats

Professor of Operations

Faculty Director of the Center for the Business of Health




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