Kellogg Chronicles: Leading the Business of Healthcare Conference

Mike Pykosz (Left), President of Healthcare Delivery at CVS speaking at the KBHC Conference in January

On a chilly Saturday in January, hundreds of Kellogg students, alumni and Chicago-area healthcare professionals streamed into the Global Hub. They came for the school’s marquee healthcare event of the year: the Kellogg Business of Healthcare Conference (KBHC).

Despite the cold weather, this was the hottest ticket in town. The conference sold out of all 450 tickets a month early and drew a long waitlist. As student organizers, we were delighted and felt rewarded by the interest and turnout. A star-studded speaker lineup and Kellogg’s growing reputation for hosting a premiere annual healthcare conference heightened the intrigue this year.

The increasing interest in KBHC reflects the growing healthcare community among Kellogg students. This year, for example, the Healthcare Club doubled in size, thanks to the strong leadership of co-presidents Jon Haugen (2Y ’24) and Pam Divack (2Y ’24). Across KBHC and the Healthcare Club, 96 students hold club leadership positions, making our healthcare student community one of the largest of any business school. Across all Kellogg programs, there are around 400 students who partake in Kellogg’s healthcare offerings.

Our growing membership and engagement have continued to energize us, particularly during “Healthcare Week” preceding the conference. It featured four speaker events, during which the Chief Marketing Officer of Eli Lilly’s Neurology unit, Roberto Servi, gave nuanced advice to students on how to market healthcare products to a global audience. Craig Garthwaite (Director of Healthcare at Kellogg) hosted an “Ask Me Anything” session that revealed his perspectives on drug pricing and his power ranking of Taylor Swift’s songs to students. During small-group, topic-themed dinners, we ate ramen while debating the merits of different health care systems in Latin America. Healthcare Week represented the culmination of year-long initiatives to strengthen the Kellogg Healthcare Community and showcased the energy leading up to KBHC.

KBHC Team Photo


On the Friday of Healthcare Week, KBHC hosted the Startup and Growth Fair, a career fair of 26 early-stage healthcare companies interested in recruiting Kellogg talent. Growing by over 60% from the prior year, the fair allowed companies to engage with hundreds of Kellogg students in attendance. The growth and engagement reflect increasing interest in healthcare entrepreneurship on campus.  During the main event on Saturday, KBHC hosted 32 executives from companies ranging from Kite Pharma to UnitedHealthcare to speak on innovative pathways to progress in the industry.

Christi Shaw, former CEO of Kite Pharma

This year’s KBHC keynote speakers have led incredible careers with major positive impacts to both their businesses and to society. They included Christi Shaw, former CEO of Kite Pharma and co-founder of the More Moments More Memories Foundation. Under Christi’s leadership, Kite Pharma became the global leader in life-saving cell therapy. She spoke about the importance of people and relationships as a business leader, healthcare professional, and caregiver. She shared that the best way to influence others in the healthcare industry is to show people how much you really care about patients and patient outcomes – and she doesn’t just talk the talk. Christi opened up about stepping away from her career to serve as a caregiver for her sister while she battled cancer. This personal connection to the hardship of a cancer diagnosis continues to inform her career trajectory. Hearing her story firsthand reinforced our shared purpose as aspiring healthcare leaders dedicated to improving patient lives.

Mike Pykosz, President of Health Care Delivery at CVS Health and co-founder of Oak Street Health, was the keynote speaker in the afternoon. He detailed CVS’s role in expanding Oak Street Health’s business model nationwide, with plans for 60 new centers this year. One key insight from Mike’s journey was his unplanned path to entrepreneurship, sparked by probing why high healthcare costs in the US do not yield superior outcomes. Oak Street’s model stands out for tying its financial success to enhancing healthcare quality and accessibility in the nation’s most underserved areas. Mike’s story shows that entrepreneurship can be opportunistic and unplanned, and that positive business outcomes in healthcare can align with societal benefits.

Our panels featured diverse topics, reflecting our varied roles in the vast healthcare ecosystem. This provided the opportunity to broaden our industry knowledge and educate us in areas outside of our expertise. We dove into the near-term impact of generative AI innovations in care delivery, explored the evolving landscape and accelerating momentum of women’s health innovation, and tackled the economic implications of rising demand for anti-obesity treatments. The panel discussions throughout the day helped us to achieve three outcomes:

Anti obesity Drug panel

1) First, we gained first-hand perspectives and insights from leading experts, such as Parry Bhatia, Chief AI Officer at GE Healthcare. We were excited to hear from him and the other AI panelists on the near-term industry applications of generative AI in areas such as diagnostics. Engaging with Parry and other innovators truly distinguished this conference as a unique business school experience for us.

2) In the Anti-Obesity Drug panel, the panelists opened up about their own personal battles with this chronic disease. We admired the panelists’ vulnerability. It showcased their vested interests in the cause and commitment to collaborating across the necessary industry stakeholders. In doing so, they can meet the strong patient demand and provide holistic care to those suffering from this complex disease.

3) Lastly, our panelist and sponsorship roles provided an opportunity for us to bring many accomplished healthcare alumni back to campus, strengthening our community. The conference programming preparations and networking events fostered personal connections amongst our team members, healthcare student community, and alumni. For example, we were joined on the VBC panel by Wyatt Decker, Chief Physician of Value-Based Care (VBC) at UnitedHealth Group and Kellogg alumni from the Class of 2011. He shared his genuine perspectives and confidence in the ability of specialty-led VBC models to impact high-cost care episodes in disease areas like nephrology. “Those who pursue value-based care will be on the right side of history,” he remarked to us. We were ecstatic to connect with and learn from distinguished alumni like Mr. Decker. Mr. Decker and other speakers are now actively engaging with KBHC leadership’s posts on Linkedin; he is now an invaluable member of our networks.

VBC Panel with Wyatt Decker (Far Left), Chief Physician of Value-Based Care (VBC) at UnitedHealth Group


As our conference ended, we felt a sense of fulfillment and gratitude upon seeing the energized faces of conference attendees. Reflecting on this year’s KBHC, the conference played a role in equipping attendees to make a bigger impact in their roles, while feeling support from and connection to the healthcare community at Kellogg and the greater Chicago area.

For us, the student organizers, the conference marked a true capstone leadership experience at Kellogg. There were several key decision points which offered us very real opportunities to hone our leadership skills. These ranged from recruiting a 54-student team across six committees to leading group visioning sessions to select salient panel topics. We discovered how to motivate our peers and drive progress, ensuring connectivity amongst team members. This allowed us to assemble an exciting speaker lineup, compelling marketing campaign, and smooth run-of-show. Our dedicated KBHC Executive team committed themselves tirelessly, engaging with potential speakers, driving fundraising efforts, promoting the event, developing a bespoke digital application, and coordinating the surrounding programming such as the Startup and Growth Fair. We have each grown as leaders from this experience, and strongly recommend Kellogg to prospective students interested in joining a robust healthcare community!


Jake Howell

Jake Howell, KBHC Co-Chair, is in his second year of the full-time MBA program at Kellogg School of Management. Prior to Kellogg, Jake advised healthcare providers and public health departments on health equity analytics as a Strategy Consultant in Deloitte Consulting’s Healthcare and Life Sciences practice. After interning at Oak Street Health this summer, he will be returning to Deloitte to focus on population health and healthcare innovation.



Mara Walli


Mara Walli, KBHC Co-Chair, is in her second year of the full-time MBA program at Kellogg School of Management. Prior to business school, she worked in corporate finance in the biotechnology industry, first at Amgen in Thousand Oaks, California and then at Atara Biotherapeutics in South San Francisco. She is going to work at Boston Consulting Group in Chicago after graduation.


Megan Sullivan

Megan Sullivan, KBHC Speakers Committee Lead, is a second year MBA candidate at Northwestern Kellogg. She was previously a Strategy Consultant in Deloitte Consulting’s Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice in Chicago, where she will also be returning upon graduation from Kellogg to continue her focus in Pharma/Biotech Strategy. She received her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

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