In this third edition of Slone Partners’ new interview series on executive and workplace diversity, we’re delighted to present an exclusive interview with Jacqueline Kosecoff. As one of the most experienced and accomplished leaders in the managed healthcare field, Jacqueline Kosecoff is truly a pioneer in the industry. Having earned her Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles, Kosecoff has served in a variety of important roles at some of the nation’s top health care, diagnostics, and drug development companies. At the beginning of her career, she helped found and lead Private Equity-back companies, including Value Health Sciences and Protocare, and then later served as Executive Vice President of PacifiCare and CEO of OptumRx at UnitedHealth Group. Dr. Kosecoff is a seasoned corporate executive and board member with a unique depth of knowledge in health services and technology.
Dr. Kosecoff also has an academic background, having served as Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Today she serves as a Managing Partner of Moriah Partners and a Senior Advisor at Warburg Pincus, a private equity investment firm. She sits on the board of directors of several public companies: Houlihan Lokey (NYSE: HLI), Sealed Air Corporation (NYSE: SEE), STERIS Corporation (NYSE: STE), and TriNet (NYSE: TNET). Kosecoff is also an active member of the board of directors of several private companies: Alignment Healthcare, GoodRx, InformedDNA, Intelligent Medical Objects, Prolacta Bioscience, SOC Telemed, and Virgin Pulse.
Slone Partners: With your decades of experience as an executive leader in the healthcare industry, what shifts, if any, have you noticed in terms of women assuming leadership roles in the industry? Are you encouraged by the recent trends you are seeing? Do you feel there is still more work to be done to ensure that women are fairly represented in top positions throughout the industry?
Jacqueline Kosecoff: Today there is a heightened awareness of the value women offer in the C-suite and boardrooms. This is a very encouraging trend, but we must be careful to ensure that it continues. I was in a board meeting where we were discussing with our CEO the profile for a new Board member. He announced that we did not need to consider gender as we already had two female board members. I cannot imagine the same being said if there were just two males on the board.
Slone Partners: You sit on numerous boards, representing women in life sciences and healthcare, where it is acknowledged that women are underrepresented. California passed a law in 2018 that requires publicly-traded companies with headquarters in the state to have at least one female board member. Do you see greater female representation today than before and if so, how do you see that shifting the conversation and the ways in which boards make decisions?
Jacqueline Kosecoff: I think it is wonderful that shareholder groups are demanding greater diversity on boards. I worry that legislating diversity might devalue women’s participation. We must ensure that women are not offered a “female” slot but valued equally with all other board members for the skills and experience they can offer.
Slone Partners: Much has been written about the ‘glass ceiling’ in the life sciences and other STEM occupations. Please explain the ways in which this phenomenon has impacted you during the course of your career? How have these personal experiences influenced your maturity and effectiveness as a leader?
Jacqueline Kosecoff: In my career, I worked very hard to get the C-suite jobs I thought I deserved. This was much more difficult than negotiating pay once I got the job. I understand that is not everyone’s experience and recommend that all companies annually conduct studies to understand the representation of diverse employees at all levels, as well as pay-fairness. I always request to see the results of those studies when I sit on a board.
Slone Partners: The COVID-19 crisis has proven to be an extraordinary challenge and opportunity for life sciences companies on the front lines of research, testing, and drug development. In your opinion, how has the industry responded to this moment and what role can it play in helping mitigate the impacts of future pandemics?
Jacqueline Kosecoff: I am heartened to learn that many companies are working together to find cures and vaccines. We must work collaboratively and not competitively to defeat Covid. And, once these cures and vaccines are available, the public deserves accurate information about how well they perform as well as affordable pricing and widespread availability.
Slone Partners: What advice do you have for young female life science professionals as they begin to find their place in the industry?
Jacqueline Kosecoff: Take the time to explore what type of job interests you.
- Do some soul searching and make sure that you will be great at these jobs. Too often we want a job and are not suited for it.
- Make sure you understand the nature of the job including time commitments, travel, and all the associated responsibilities.
- Determine the skills needed to get that job and ask for opportunities to acquire those skills.
Slone Partners: What are the things you make time for in your personal life that bring you the most happiness?
Jacqueline Kosecoff: The most important things in my life are family and friends. One of the worst parts of Covid is not being able to spend in-person time with them. I try to compensate through socially-distanced visits or by using Zoom, but it is not the same. I am an avid reader and enjoy several books every week. I treasure spending time with family and friends in Maui, which is truly a nature-lover’s paradise. Finally, my husband and I are (were) regular travelers and enjoy seeing new places and cultures. One of my favorite trips ever was to Antarctica with a group of friends.