2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Christine Lum Lung, Yale SOM

Christine Lum Lung

Yale School of Management

Age: 51

“A physician innovator catalyzing  improvements in healthcare and inspiring others to follow her lead.”

Hometown: Fort Collins, CO

Family Members: Parents (Paul & Colleen) 2 brothers (Mike, Kevin) 1 sister (Lisa) 10  amazing nieces and nephews!!

Fun fact about yourself: When I was in first grade, there were no girls soccer teams  in the area. Therefore, my dad signed up to be a coach so he could add me to his  roster. I was the only girl on the team and in the league. So, I credit my parents for  teaching me at an early age about the importance of creating your own opportunities and of not being afraid of being the only “girl” in a what may appear to  be a “boys game.”

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • Undergraduate: Stanford University, BA Political Science
  • Medical School: University of Colorado Health Science Center, Doctor of Medicine
  • Residency Program: University of California San Diego, Internal Medicine

Where are you currently working?

  • Origin Healthcare, Inc., CEO/Co-Founder (started 1/1/21)

When I began the EMBA program I was a practicing internal medicine hospitalist physician and CEO/Founder of Northern Colorado Hospitalists, LLC, which I  started 16 years ago. NCH is an independent physician-owned and operated company that provides internal medicine care for patients in the hospital. We now have 43 physicians providing care at three regional hospitals. While I loved the company and the care we were providing, I was motivated to find other ways  to improve the health of my patients and the future of healthcare. Therefore, I left my company at the end of 2020 and am currently the CEO/Co-Founder of  Origin Healthcare, Inc. We are a healthcare start-up company dedicated to  overcoming the problems of a traditional hospitalization by providing expert hospital level care to patients within the comfort of their own home.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • Christ Clinic Volunteer Physician: providing primary care services to patients who are uninsured or underinsured.
  • Catholic Charities Board of Directors: term ended Fall 2020.
  • Yale Philanthropy Conference 2021 Planning Committee
  • Origin Healthcare received the Yale InnovateHealth Rita Wilson Seed Grant in January 2021 and has been selected as one of four finalists to present for the Wilson prize at the Startup Yale Pitch competition on April 30th.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my involvement with the 2021 Yale Philanthropy Conference planning committee. Philanthropy has been a significant part of my life and this past year brought renewed attention to the important role philanthropy can play in healing the nation. The conference is entirely student run, which was an attractive element. Each of the planning team members was responsible for developing an idea, finding speakers, and organizing their own panel for the conference.

My panel focused on the “Roles and Responsibilities of Philanthropy” and I was fortunate to have Dr. Una Osili from the Indiana University Lily School of Philanthropy, Erik Clemons from ConnCAT, and Caren Yanis from Croland  Consulting as my panelists. The panel was moderated by Kimberlee Cornett from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In addition, I was also on the sponsorship subcommittee interacting with corporate and foundation donors. This year’s conference was unique as the pandemic forced us to pivot to a virtual format. There were many new aspects that we had to incorporate, but it also allowed people from around the nation and the world to attend. We had almost 1,500 participants attend the Thursday night-Friday conference, and the online platform provided the opportunity for robust interactions and networking. Our hope is that the event was a catalyst for each of our attendees to increase their awareness of the importance of philanthropy. I am committed to maintaining a focus on philanthropy and service and I was fortunate to incorporate that passion into my experience at Yale.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I knew entering into the EMBA program in 2019 that the next two years would be some of the most challenging of my life. I was the company’s CEO and still actively practicing clinical medicine prior to starting school and I continued both roles during the program. The rigor of the Yale SOM curriculum impacted me both physically and mentally. I found I could manage on even less sleep. In spite of the frustrations of being slow to understand second derivative economic curves, I also truly loved learning.

I challenged myself further when I decided to begin working on a new healthcare startup venture at the beginning of 2020. And then the pandemic hit. As a group of internal medicine hospitalist physicians, we were on the front of the frontlines and it was my role as the leader to navigate us safely through it all. We faced PPE shortages, institutional roadblocks, critically ill patients with few treatment options, and a lot of uncertainty. I took seriously the responsibility that I had to ensure that my group was taken care of and safe. I instituted a crisis plan, helped secure additional PPE, advocated for the hospital staff and our patients, and ensured our hospitalist leadership team was frequently present in the hospitals to check on and support our clinicians.

What I am most proud of is the way our group faced this challenge by working extra hours and extra shifts. I was also proud of how well we cared for not only our patients, but how well we cared for each other. Our entire team has remained healthy and steadfastly committed to the work they do in service of others.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? As a physician and a more “seasoned” executive, returning to school may not have seemed like an obvious choice. However, as a clinician, I continued to see first-hand the struggles that my patients faced due our broken U.S. healthcare system. I was compelled to find other ways to make healthcare better. While I believed my years as a physician executive and clinician provided me with a unique perspective, I also understood that an MBA would be a powerful tool to help me achieve my goals.  There is no better program to be a part of if you want to make a big impact.

Yale SOM has incredible professors, a unique curriculum approach, and a broad and  knowledgeable network. Yale also is unique as it has a healthcare track embedded in the program. I was able to receive a rigorous MBA education while also having the benefit of some classes that were specifically dedicated to my area of interest. In addition, SOM’s mission to help us be “leaders for both business and society” is evident throughout all aspects of the program. Beyond these important elements, it was the peers that I met during the informational sessions and on my interview day that solidified my desire to come to Yale. I interacted with incredibly thoughtful and accomplished individuals and I knew that learning with them would have a profound impact on my life. That has absolutely been the case. My classmates inspire me to leave the world better than it was the day before.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at  work? Professor Sonia Marciano taught us in Competitive Strategy about the importance of building a strategic moat in order to outperform competitors. She developed a 6-element approach that centered around investing in relationships, infrastructure, and innovative capacity in order to mitigate the need to compete on price or features. I have utilized these 6-elements to develop the strategic approach for my startup, Origin Healthcare, so we can position ourselves for success.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? In December of 2020, we were at the height of the pandemic surge in the hospital.  We were caring for a large number of critically ill patients, spending hours in uncomfortable equipment to protect ourselves and others, and actively discussing the need to ration care. The time and energy that pandemic planning took from a leadership standpoint was overwhelming but necessary in order to manage the uncertainty and to prepare for multiple contingencies.

I profoundly felt the weight of the responsibility I had to my group, their families, and to our patients to lead them through this as safely and effectively as possible. I worked extra clinical shifts in the hospital because of the high number of patients we were admitting. What made the timing even more challenging was my scheduled departure from my company at the end of the month in order to launch my startup. Throughout this all, we still had schoolwork and deliverables, although Yale was very supportive and understanding.  I recall physically hurting from the lack of sleep and from the emotional toll of leadership during this unprecedented time. What kept me going was the love and support of my amazing family, my friends, and my classmates at Yale SOM. There was always someone reaching out to provide support, or even offering to just listen.  The strength of this community is what made the difference for me and I will forever be grateful.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? This will be one of the best decisions in your life. While the stress and workload should not be underestimated, the benefits you receive will vastly outweigh any potential negatives. You may already have an idea of what you hope to gain from the program, but keep an open mind and be willing to explore unexpected avenues. Build your network and focus on cultivating relationships. You will meet classmates who will not only be an integral part of your survival during school, but who will also become your closest friends. Finally, do not spend time obsessing about your grades.  Learn for the love of learning and to make yourself better at what you do, not because of a grade.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish that I had spent more time during class weekends really getting to know everyone in my class. I thought that I would have time during the two years to do this. However, none of us could have anticipated COVID-19 and how that would significantly alter the rest of our EMBA experience. While our class has remained

incredibly close during this challenging time, there is a sense of loss for what could  have been if we had been able to continue to be with each other in person during  class weekends.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Renee Greene. Renee has so many traits that make her an outstanding student, professional, leader, and friend. She is one of the few women in the asset management track and was elected their class representative. Renee always makes insightful comments in class, she does not hesitate to stand her ground, and she is the only one who has done a presentation speaking Korean! Outside of class, she is also one of the few women on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs. She is active in mentoring underrepresented youth and she is also involved in a few startups. On a personal level, she has an intuition and ability to reach out to others and to support  them in incredibly meaningful ways.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives?  The EMBA was the only option that I knew would be right for me. While studying at a respected institution was important, it was equally (if not more important) for me to make that journey with other motivated individuals. The opportunity to learn and be challenged occurs within the classroom, in the hallways, and over dinner after class. This cannot be replicated through an online program. Traveling to school and taking time away from work and family was not a decision that anyone made lightly. Each of us chose to do this because being together frequently as a class allowed us to form close bonds and to inspire each other to find ways to be better leaders in business and society.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I aspire to have a career where I can say at the end: I always remained true to my personal values and I never stopped trying to find ways to make life better for others.

 What made Christine such an invaluable member of the Class of 2021?

“I have been mentoring Christine for the past year as she develops her “hospital at home” start-up, Origin Health. During this time, Christine has never ceased to inspire me. After leading her own hospitalist group for many years, she grew frustrated with the way hospital care is delivered, and decided to create and test a new model. She has worked ceaselessly over the past year to refine and test the model, and to put together the team and logistics required to execute. I have no doubt she will go far. In a system where entrenched interests are working against patient outcomes and value based care, social entrepreneurs like Christine are needed to challenge the status quo. I am proud to support her nomination and her work in any way I can.”

Teresa Chahine
Sheila and Ron ’92 Marcelo Senior Lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship

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