2018 Best EMBAs: Holly Robinson, Indiana University (Kelley)

Holly Robinson

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Business of Medicine Physician MBA

Optimistic, I believe everyone is doing the very best they can given their own situation.”

Age: 46

Hometown: New Albany, IN

Family Members: Husband of 24 years – Paul, Tucker- 22yo, Maddie – 20yo, Garrett 18yo

Fun fact about yourself: I plan to live to be over 100

Undergraduate School and Degree: Indiana University – BS in Biology; Indiana University School of Medicine – MD

Where are you currently working? Eli Lilly and Co, Senior Medical Advisor – Pediatric Strategy

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Medical Director for Non-Profit Pediatric Care Coordination Company, Women’s Bi-Partisan Policy Circle, Physician Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The opportunity to combine my clinical knowledge, healthcare administration experience, and now business skillset to impact healthcare not just in my community or nation but all over the world.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In this challenging health care environment, it is the opportunity to work with great people to keep our small health system independent and financially strong as well as achieving top quality ratings and rolling out cutting edge community initiatives to tackle addiction and mental health crises. When I was 11 years old, I was very ill. My treatment put huge financial strain on my family. I’ve never forgotten the anxiety and distress of that time, and it motivates me to find ways to change the flaws in our current healthcare system.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Phil Powell, Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Associate Clinical Professor of Business Economics.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Macroeconomics taught by Phil Powell. He brought amazing energy and the ability to present an incredibly balanced and optimistic perspective.  Insight: almost no one creates policies, systems, or rules with negative intent. The complexity of our world can often not be fully appreciated except in hindsight.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? Excellent reputation, previous student’s high recommendations, desire to develop a skill set that could allow me to have greater impact in the healthcare industry.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Learning about topics I had never been exposed to. The study of medicine is very deep but narrow; science degrees often don’t leave time to explore other areas. It opened my eyes in so many ways that I can apply personally as well as professionally.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? No one, no matter what their title, has all the answers. Do what you think is right, even if you are not sure how exactly to do it; ask for help; and most of the time things will end up better than you expected!

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Audio! My family likely feels as if they went to school with me! Multi-tasking makes me happy…hate all the bad press! Lectures, business books, articles…whether folding clothes, showering, driving or watching videos…audio learning was key. Thank goodness for technology!

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? It is wonderful way to improve interpersonal skills, communication, and teamwork which are critical for success in today’s world…and make the day-to-day more fun too! Effectively assessing one’s strengths and having executive coaches help you decide how you might like to use them…even better! These friendships will be forever – the students who successfully navigate these programs are unique and that uniqueness creates bonds.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not spending even more time with classmates…it went too fast

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Dr. Saura Fortin… survived Honduran medical school, studied alone for months in the US apart from her small children to pass the USMLE, got accepted in the US, and completed her residency. She has a management position at her clinic and is raising 4 children. She has the greatest sense of humor and makes me laugh all the time. She is amazing and an inspiration.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…prior students told me how great it was!”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…wishing I had! I would still be in my previous role. It was very rewarding but I am thrilled to have new opportunities as a result of attending the Kelley Physician MBA program.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To shape healthcare delivery so that the system helps each of us be our BEST rather than a system that rewards the treatment of illness. Chronic disease is often affected by our choices, but those choices are not completely voluntary. Our bodies are longing for some behavioral economic help!

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Optimistic, honest, sincere 

Favorite book: So many…The Glass Castle

Favorite movie or television show: Hidden Figures

What are the top two items on your bucket list? 1. Start a business with one of my children 2. Walk all or part of the Wild Atlantic Way

What made Holly such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Holly is remarkable individual, who has managed simultaneously to succeed as a physician, a business leader, and Business of Medicine Physician MBA student, all while (somehow) maintaining a balanced life as a parent of three children. She has pulled off this juggling act through a combination of a sharp intellect, an ability to multi-task (she listens to audio of course material while showering and doing yard work) and most of all, a singularly positive attitude toward life and other people. While writing this recommendation, I conducted a thought experiment in which I tried to imagine Holly looking bored, or angry, or impatient. I couldn’t do it. As a result of these qualities, Holly’s growth as a leader during her MBA program has been extraordinary. During the course of the program, she has transitioned from being the chief quality officer for a small clinical care company in southern Indiana, to her recent appointment as Senior Medical Advisor for a $22 billion multinational bio-pharmaceutical company. It has been an absolute delight having Holly in the Business of Medicine Physician MBA program, and to watch her use what she has learned to take her career to new heights.”

Anthony D. Cox, Ph.D.

Chair, Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program

Professor of Marketing

Indiana University Kelley School of Business



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