2015 Best EMBA: Meera Atkins

Meera Atkins

Meera Atkins


Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

After completing her medical residency, Meera Atkins discovered a cruel irony: “I realized there was this other half of healthcare that I knew absolutely nothing about.” To Atkins’ credit, she focused on learning the business side as well, eventually opening her own medical practice and enrolling in Kellogg’s Executive MBA program. And it paid immediate dividends, proving that one of the core benefits of every EMBA experience is that what you learn in class can be brought to work the next day. “What was really fun was during school, as I’d learn something, I’d be able to incorporate it right away. We increased our efficiencies and quality during my operations course.” Meera also served as a de facto leader of her class, being elected as one of two student ambassadors to the administration. In her spare time, Atkins is a volunteer medical care provider to women at the Lazarus House and serves on the quality improvement committee at Northwestern Medicine’s Delnor Hospital.

Age: 42

Location: St. Charles, Illinois

Family Members: Tom (husband), Aidan (son, age 10), Sienna (daughter, age 8)

Undergraduate School: Youngstown State University; Northeast Ohio Medical University

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Science (Major: Combined Sciences),

Where are you currently working? Renaissance Women’s Health; Founder/Owner

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I finished residency and entered my first “real job.” I realized there was this other half of healthcare that I knew absolutely nothing about.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…applying right now! It was always part of my plan.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I want to be able to make healthcare more accessible for everyone. Having been “in the trenches” as a clinician and now having a deep understanding of the economics, that hopefully will get me there.

Favorite Courses: World Economy with Professor Sergio Rebelo

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? I started my own medical practice from the ground up a few years ago. I was involved in everything from marketing to contract negotiation and strategy. What was really fun was during school, as I’d learn something, I’d be able to incorporate it in right away. We increased our efficiencies and quality during my operations course. My office was really enthusiastic about our changes, too. It is incredibly satisfying to take an idea, nurture it and watch it grow!

Who would you most want to thank for your success (and why)? My family. I couldn’t have done this without the support of them. My husband has been absolutely amazing – picking up so much slack at home so I have time to devote to school. The kids have also been great – they love that we sit down at the table and do homework together. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my EMBA family, especially my study group (“D-Block”). We’ve learned what it takes to be a team – leaning on each other when other priorities took precedence, and learning from each other’s wealth of experience.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I was all set to go to another program, when my husband said I should just check it out. That was the best advice. I was hooked from that very first informational session. I happened to talk to the program director, who just seemed so hands-on and approachable. Then I talked to current students – who said it was life-changing. Plus, the hors d’oeuvres were really tasty!

What did you enjoy most about the executive MBA program? Besides the learning? The people and conversations. There are such incredible people in the program – not only at Kellogg, but at their international ‘sister’ schools. You can learn so much from their experiences – both while in the classroom and outside.  We get to spend a lot of time together, since we all stay on campus. This gives us plenty of opportunities to build and grow our network.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? My study group and I had dinner with Harry Kraemer, the former CEO of Baxter International. I had read one of his books (“From Values to Action”) and it really resonated with me. He was so genuine and down to earth. It far exceeded my expectations.

Fun fact about yourself: For my wedding anniversary, one year we went rock climbing in the Uinta mountains (Utah). There was a lot of trust and teamwork involved, and just listening to directions. You could only see what was in your immediate vicinity – and were so focused, you couldn’t do it alone. It’s amazing what you could accomplish when you set your mind to it.

Favorite book: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

Favorite movie: Lord of the Rings – all of them!

Favorite musical performer: Right now it’s Ed Sheeran

Favorite television show: Game of Thrones – it’s the only TV show that I’ve watched since starting the program!

Favorite vacation spot: Park City, Utah

What are your hobbies? Running, skiing, mountain biking, reading

What made Meera such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015 for your executive MBA program?

“It seems like yesterday when Meera was elected by her classmates early in their journey as one of two cohort ambassadors to represent them in strategic partnership with our administration throughout the program. Time has proven the students to be incredibly prescient in choosing her (and the other ambassador), as she continually impresses me with her servant leadership style, caring about the other students and the program as a first priority, and she hasn’t wavered from that values-based leadership model. All of our students end up juggling the demands of academics with professional and personal goals and needs, but Meera seems to excel at all of them with a “zen” calming effect on those around her- I’m sure she doesn’t always feel that way, but it appears that way to us! I will miss her as a current executive MBA student leader, but I’m also excited to have her play an active alumna role in support of future Kellogg students.”

Greg Hanifee, Associate Dean of Executive MBA Programs


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