Meet the Experts: Harry Greenspun, M.D

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‘Calibre One: Meet The Experts‘ is a series that delves into the minds of our Partners at Calibre One. Join us as we talk with our industry leaders about their experiences, insights, and strategies in navigating the competitive landscape of executive search and placement.

While I would not have predicted how my career would evolve, it seems to make sense in retrospect. Aside from a few months in third grade when I wanted to be a truck driver, I’d always wanted to be a doctor.  After graduating from Harvard and finishing medical school, I started my clinical career as a cardiac anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins.  While there, doing early work in minimally invasive heart surgery, I recognized how information technology could revolutionize care, and ultimately wound up splitting my time in the operating room and launching a health IT company.  That grew into larger roles, including being Chief Medical Officer for Northrop Grumman and then Dell.  I then took on roles at large consulting firms including Deloitte and Guidehouse, covering every aspect of health: payers, providers, life sciences companies, government agencies, retailers, tech companies, and even national security organizations. 

Areas of Specialism

I lead the health and well-being practice within our healthcare and life sciences group, focusing primarily on placing Chief Medical Officers, board members, and similar executives across nearly every industry.  Having served as a Chief Medical Officer myself, I understand the challenges people face in these roles, both inside and outside traditional healthcare.  Beyond that, I rely on my clinical, research, and leadership experience to advise companies, organizations, and academic institutions seeking to advance their missions.

What Do You Love About Your Role?

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of impacting health and care one-on-one with patients, across communities, and throughout entire countries. Through conversations, speeches, articles, and engagements with clinicians, executives, and government officials, I’ve had the unique opportunity to navigate the intricately intertwined forces of health globally.  During that time, I’ve also become friends and colleagues with countless dedicated innovators.  Consequently, I’m now in a position to understand organizational needs and address them with exceptional leaders.

What is the Greatest Opportunity of the Decade?

Outside of traditional healthcare organizations, the primary role of a Chief Medical Officer varies greatly.  In some, the focus is on occupational health and safety, particularly in manufacturing.  Large global companies often need to arrange or provide healthcare for a large workforce that may have limited access to care.  Product and service companies may need a clinical expert to interface with customers and clients. 

However, as the senior physician in an organization, no matter what your primary duties are, undoubtedly anything remotely health-related comes to you.  During the pandemic, the depth and breadth of these needs grew exponentially.  I, like so many other clinicians in industry, was called upon to address needs in public health, policies and procedures, clinical care, and continuity of operations.  As the time went on, issues of health equity, sustainability, community responsibility, and behavioral health pushed to the surface. 

I saw the Chief Health and Chief Clinical Officers of organizations being stretched to their limits, while other organizations that lacked Chief Medical Officers having no one with a comprehensive view of these challenges.  Thankfully, companies are becoming more aware of the value of having an integrated approach to the health needs of their employees, customers, and communities.

What is a significant challenge you solved as a Chief Medical Officer?

One of the biggest challenges companies face is a lack of trust when it comes to health.  Employees typically do not trust that their benefits are designed with their health as a priority.  Customers and clients are skeptical that a firm truly understands their needs.  Executives fear that no one in their organization can help them navigate complex medical and scientific situations.

In my role as a Chief Medical Officer, I’ve been able to draw upon my training, experience, and network to address these concerns.  People know I will actively listen, hear them, and give clear, unbiased advice that fits their situation and priorities.  In this way, I have built trust with clients and colleagues while supporting our business objectives.

What’s Your Favorite Quote?

People who know me appreciate that I’m a complex person.  I’m an Ivy League-educated physician who rides motorcycles, plays in a band, and does Tarot card readings.  In college, along with my pre-med requirements, I studied psychology, architecture, and ancient Greek history.  I’ve loved quotes from Pericles, Shakespeare, Shackleton, and other luminaries.  However, a quote from Janis Joplin continues to resonate with me:

“The more you live, the less you die.”