2020 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Daniel Lakoff, MD, Cornell University (Johnson)

Daniel Lakoff, MD

Samuel Curtis Johnson College of Business, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“Mission-driven servant leader in emergency medicine.”

Age: 39

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

Family Members: Brothers: Stephen & Joshua, Sister-in-Laws Kristina & Alana + Nieces/Nephew Isabella, Madison, Mia, Tommy, Elsie & Viviane

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • McGill University, BSc 2003
  • George’s University, MD 2007

Where are you currently working?

  • Weill Cornell Medicine – Department of Emergency Medicine
  • Healthcare Leadership and Management Fellow
  • Interim Assistant Director of Operations – Lower Manhattan Hospital

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • Chair – Wellness Committee – New York Chapter American College of Emergency Physicians
  • Co-Founder – National Physician Suicide Awareness Day

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Though physician burnout has recently come to international attention, it’s been a space I’ve been working in for years. Along with local initiatives, during the past two years, I’ve been able to launch a few on the state and national stage.  Notably, for New York State, I was able to launch the first-ever awards for emergency departments and residency programs that best demonstrate their commitments to physician well-being.  These awards are heavily focused on mental health access, operations, diversity/gender equity, and community- building in addition to the traditional concepts of well-being at the workplace.  It is my hope that leaders recognize that there is more to well-being than social outings and pizza dinners.

Along with a great friend and colleague Loice Swisher MD, I also co-founded National Physician Suicide Awareness Day with inaugural event in September 2018. Physicians, unbeknownst to many, have very high suicide rates compared to the general population. Unfortunately, many suffer in silence. We established this day to create a safe space for physicians to remember colleagues who have died by suicide, share stories, and resources about how to seek help. In our second year, we were able to grow our list of participating organizations to 77 throughout the US and even included a few international.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m proud and thankful every day for my career in emergency medicine. Though challenging at times, emergency medicine has provided me with a unique opportunity to use my whole being to care for another person. I can use my scientific background to diagnose and medically manage a patient and I can use my natural compassion and empathy to provide the emotional support a patient needs in that moment.

I’m also extremely proud to have added to my skill set through this program, as I now possess a deeper understanding of the interplay of industry, policy, and social determinants of health in America.  Newly-equipped with these insights, I can interject myself and influence my organization to better serve our community and population.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is a very difficult decision since we’ve had so many brilliant and engaging professors. However, since I’ve been asked to select one, I’d have to say Dr. Lawrence Casalino who taught us Healthcare Policy & Economics in our first year. Every single topic that he raised in class about our healthcare system fired me up, from the funding of the health system to the opioid epidemic.  Through the depth of his knowledge and experience, he was able to guide the class through complex discussions that undoubtedly will inspire all of us to continue to work towards a better system for Americans.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? It was a pretty easy choice for me. On its own, the program offered the combination of an MBA and MS degrees, which spoke to the breadth of education that I wanted. I wanted to ensure I could bridge my medical/scientific background with a deeper understanding of the business of medicine and healthcare policy, so that I can engage on all fronts to help craft a better system for my patients and community.

New York City also just made sense, as I’ve lived here for 15 years and have a good pulse on the city and its communities. NYC has also been transforming into a health industry hub, given the number of hospitals in the area, the population density, and the need for the industry to innovate to meet the needs of the people.  The icing on the cake was clearly that I was able to stay close to my group of friends and colleagues!

What did you enjoy most aout business school in general? While the learning was engaging and great, I truly enjoyed connecting with my classmates. For the first few months of classes, it was incredible to meet such a diverse group of people so passionate about the same subjects, and connect on so many levels beyond healthcare.  It has been a rare treat in my life to have met such a good group of people, and gain an enormous group of friends.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I’m leaving business school feeling validated about my natural skill set as a leader. Whereas in the past you would see traditional leaders as the loud, aggressive, sole decision-maker; business school has opened my eyes to the absolute need for soft-skills to lead high functioning teams and to externally negotiate bigger and better deals with other firms.

At the end of the day, organizations certainly have a bottom line, however, to ensure an organization thrives and grows requires more than financial incentives, it requires a humanistic approach to team management.

What was your biggest regret in business school? The biggest regret I have is that I didn’t get to spend as much time with my classmates!  Fortunately, a lot of the group lives in the NYC area, and we’ve forged incredible bonds during these past two years, so I’m 100% sure we’ll be in each other’s lives for a long time to come!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire?

Easy call on this one for myself and I’m sure the rest of the class would support me.

Juan Serrano.

Juan walks the talk.  He is a military veteran-turned-healthcare administrator and now an AVP at Northwell Health with a focus on Military and Veterans. He is smart and dedicated and is always where the action is. From speaking out on veterans’ health issues to getting involved in the USNS Comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic or spearheading benefit concerts, Juan is a leader I’d follow.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I wanted a seat at the table. Learning from experience is traditionally the route physician leaders take. However, I knew I wanted to level-up my skillset and get a broader perspective on the healthcare industry.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Like many in our program, I want to make the lives of people in my city and community better. To do this, my goal is to bridge hospital systems to the innovation that is taking place in the rest of the health industry as a means to improve population health.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? He was that nice guy in class who really cared about his patients and work.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? First, I’d like to go on a nice month-long vacation to South East Asia to do some scuba diving and kitesurfing. And second, I’d like to start building a better healthcare system!

What made Daniel such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“It is our great pleasure to nominate Daniel Lakoff of the Cornell Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program Class of 2020 as an outstanding candidate for Poets & Quants “Class of 2020: The Best Executive MBAs”

Daniel is currently a Healthcare Leadership and Management Fellow with the Department of Emergency Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and the Interim Assistant Director of Operations at Lower Manhattan Hospital, where he has demonstrated impressive leadership and decision making with the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. Daniel is a dedicated student, an exemplary leader in emergency medicine, and committed to improving the healthcare industry.

Before applying to the Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership, Daniel was an emergency medicine attending physician at the Alice Hyde Medical Center, where he moved up the ranks quickly through steady promotions and leadership positions. Daniel was accepted to the Weill Cornell Medicine Emergency Fellowship, awarded to one physician each year, and began classes with the Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership at the same time. Throughout his career, Daniel has been passionate about improving quality of patient care and leading with a patient-centered perspective.

During his time in the program, Daniel has become a valuable addition to the Class of 2020 cohort and has implemented the knowledge and skills of the Healthcare Leadership program into his professional life. While balancing the demands of his professional responsibilities and the rigor of academics, Daniel found time to co-found the National Physician Suicide Awareness Day, aiming to create a safe space and provide resources to physicians experiencing burn-out. Since it’s founding in 2018, Daniel has helped successfully grow the initiative to reach over 77 partnering organizations. Finally, over the past few months, our program has seen Daniel take an active leadership role in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. His quick decision-making and strategic leadership have certainly made a tremendous impact at the Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine.

Daniel has been an outstanding student and collaborative teammate during his time in the Cornell EMBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership. We highly recommend him for the “Class of 2020: The Best Executive MBAs.”

Sara Lynn Ianni
Senior Director of Admissions and Marketing
Cornell Executive MBA Programs

Shivani Dhir
Program Director
Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership




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