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Meet the Advisory Board -  Craig Samitt, MD, MBA

by The Leadership Development Group

We are fortunate to have an advisory board, comprised of multi-sector industry leaders from a variety of disciplines, to guide our strategy and growth. We have created the “Meet the Advisory Board” series as a way to introduce you to these talented leaders and learn about their perspectives on leadership and cross-sector collaboration.

In this interview, meet Advisory Board member Craig Samitt, the CEO and Founder of ITO Advisors, a healthcare advisory and investment firm.

Why did you choose to join TLD Group’s Advisory Board?

I have long been an outspoken advocate for transformation and re-invention of the healthcare sector, and now more than ever, we as industry incumbents are in a primary position to be leaders, not followers.

In my experience, the greatest examples of positive change in our industry have come from a unique cadre of leaders that are inspiring, caring, brave, and skilled. If we were to create an army of such leaders, through the work and support of organizations like TLD Group, we would see an accelerated transformation of US healthcare — something which is long overdue. 

What is the biggest leadership challenge facing leaders today?

Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” and Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Within these famous quotes lies my view of the biggest challenge healthcare leadership faces today.

While our industry is ripe with vision, we are lacking the execution, follow-through, and cultural engagements of a talented workforce. I suggest that the biggest challenge we face today is the imperative for us to focus on strategy less, and to focus more on building an environment that culturally engages, attracts, and retains a workforce and assures that our vision for change is successfully and consistently enacted.

What advice do you have for leaders looking to develop themselves to make an impact on the healthcare industry?

Every leader learns and develops differently, but for me, I find that comes from reading avidly and stealing shamelessly. As it relates to the first, I very much adhere to the Warren Buffett philosophy of constant learning — the more I read, the more I know, the more I follow the success and failures of other companies, the more I learn.

And as it relates to stealing shamelessly, I believe that good leadership isn’t just innate, it’s carefully constructed. I’ve studied leadership (initially as a follower for decades), and I have become a composite of leadership styles I’ve liked with a purposeful absence of leadership styles I’ve hated. So go ahead and steal – the approaches, styles, and strategies of the leaders you most admire – you will become a better one yourself.

What is your leadership motto? Why?

My favorite motto comes from Mahatma Gandhi. “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I’d rather that than the alternative (which I candidly see too often in business) which is “Talk a good talk and people won’t notice that you’re not changing the world.”

There is a lot of hype in healthcare, and disappointingly so, there isn’t a lot of substance. To me, being the change means finding problems that are in need of a solution (versus the other way around), and then tenaciously attacking them until they’re fixed.

How do you enjoy spending your time out of work?

I’m a work-hard, play-hard type guy. When I’m not trying to reinvent healthcare, you can find me on a bike, in a gym, on the slopes, on the water, climbing a mountain, in the kitchen tackling some monstrously complicated recipe, traveling the world, or napping.


Craig Samitt, TLD Group Advisory Board Member

Craig Samitt

Craig Samitt, MD, MBA, is the CEO and Founder of ITO Advisors, a healthcare advisory and investment firm. Previously Dr. Samitt served as EVP, Chief Clinical Officer, and President of Anthem's Diversified Business Group, and most recently as President & CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Dr. Samitt has led sequential health systems transformations, having served as President & CEO of HealthCare Partners and President & CEO of Dean Health System. From 2012-2018, Dr. Samitt served as a Commissioner on MedPAC, an influential, independent Congressional Agency established to advise Congress on policies related to payments to private health plans participating in Medicare and healthcare providers serving Medicare beneficiaries.

Dr. Samitt received his undergraduate degree from Tufts University, his Doctorate in Medicine from Columbia University, and his Masters in Business Administration from The Wharton School. He is a nationally recognized expert and thought leader on industry transformation, care delivery and healthcare policy. His record of collaborating across the healthcare system to deliver higher quality care at a lower cost led to him being named as one of the “50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders” by Modern Healthcare in 2018.

Topics: Healthcare Ecosystem, Leadership, Meet the Advisory Board