A Healthy Interest in Creating Change
Danny Plooster, ’17 MHA-MBA, isn’t naïve.
The recent Carlson School and School of Public Health graduate sees a national healthcare landscape rife with shortcomings and fractures. Yet he’s undaunted by the challenge.
“I know that today our system is broken in many ways, but there are a lot of incredible, passionate people working to fix it,” he says. “I want to be a part of that solution.”
After graduating in May with his dual degree, Plooster joined The Chartis Group, a Chicago-based advisory services firm that works with some of the country’s largest healthcare providers, as a senior consultant. He’s one of a growing number of Carlson School students pursuing careers in healthcare—based on a Poets & Quants analysis of 2016 employment reports, the school had the second-highest percentage of MBAs taking jobs in the industry among elite programs in the U.S. and Europe.
For Plooster, who entered graduate school without a set career goal but a budding interest in healthcare consulting, landing a position at Chartis capped a strenuous-but-enlightening three years. He felt he came in lacking leadership experience, so he decided to “throw myself at everything that seemed interesting.”
That included founding the School of Public Health Consulting Club, which sent him to Tanzania on a volunteer consulting assignment helping to redesign the medical records system at a regional hospital in the East African country—an experience he calls “a defining moment in my life.”
He served as president of the Carlson School’s Medical Industry Leadership Institute Student Association, as managing partner of the Graduate Volunteer Consultants, a student group that provides pro-bono consulting services to local nonprofits, and in a host of other leadership roles.
“I cannot imagine a better environment to go out and try new things,” Plooster says of his time on campus. “It was a place for me to try leading a club, to go to a different country, to consult for leading healthcare companies, and to develop lasting relationships with a diverse group of people. The relationships I have built with faculty and friends throughout these three years of graduate school have allowed me to be my best and most passionate self.”
Plooster singles out Severin St. Martin, the director of the Carlson Consulting Enterprise (CCE), for playing a particularly influential role in his development. During three projects over two years in the CCE, Plooster “learned to put a stake in the ground with my assumptions to get to a hypothesis, then work backward with the client to fill in the holes and adjust as necessary.”
“Danny is the most conscientious, engaged, and self-motivated student I’ve ever seen, and yet he maintains his humility and a focus on self-development,” says St. Martin. “It gives me great hope for the future of our healthcare system in the U.S. to know that Danny is on the case.”
Plooster was the first Carlson MBA student to intern at Chartis. During his internship, he worked with a top-10-ranked academic medical center to develop a post-merger integration strategy for its cancer service line, a project that involved analyzing data to tease out insights and having “tough conversations.”
“I fully immersed myself in the data and research behind the story we were attempting to build. We needed to help our client create an environment in cancer that took disparate parts and melded them into a great patient experience,” he says. “I feel my ability to jump right into building the story with often ambiguous direction and communicate effectively with the client during times of change led to my success.”
That success led to a full-time offer from Chartis, where he’s wholeheartedly embraced the firm’s mission “to materially improve the delivery of healthcare in the world.”
“I want to have a meaningful impact on the shift to value in healthcare. I want to facilitate providers and patients coming together to make living a healthy life simple,” he says.
“Whether that means I stay with Chartis and provide deep relationships with providers throughout the country or I off-road to a large integrated system that has the impact to drive change, I hope to work every day to help keep the populations I serve healthy.”