Injury and that classic desire to help people first drew Victor Leclere to consider the healthcare field. But it was a desire to have a macro impact – and an ever-expanding sense of what that meant – that brought him from consulting to investment banking and a full-time Berkeley MBA.
A competitive swimmer in high school and college – he earned a spot on the French national team in 2008 – Leclere suffered a series of stress injuries. His attempt to find pain relief beyond physical therapy and cortisone shots led him to explore acupuncture and alternative medicine and then on to the healthcare field in general.
“When you’re interested in healthcare, the first thing that comes to mind is being a doctor or nurse. But that’s the micro level. As I learned more about the field, I found myself attracted to macro changes and how to impact health at a population level.”
After earning a degree in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he landed a job in the healthcare group at Kurt Salmon, a boutique consulting firm. Over the next four years, he worked in strategy consulting at more than a dozen hospitals and clinics in four countries.
Changing the healthcare landscape
On a project in Qatar, he helped set up the first dedicated pediatric hospital in the gulf region. This seminal experience, “transforming the landscape,” as Leclere puts it, was most satisfying.
“When you think about it,” says Leclere, “a physician sees a thousand to two thousand individuals in a year,. but a hospital touches tens of thousands and a health system adds a multiplier. As the field redefines ‘health and wellness’ to include more than our interactions with healthcare facilities, the impact will expand."
But consulting had its limits in his mind.
“I was helping facilitate change, but it lacked the element of ownership,” he says. “In consulting you develop a plan or strategy and hope the client implements it. But for me, that lacked the passion that comes with execution and ownership.”
The lure of investment banking
Fortunately, Leclere’s work in emerging markets allowed him to work closely with private equity firms that were creating new healthcare systems. That was his first interaction with investment bankers – providing the support necessary to finance and acquire clinics, hospitals and retailers to transform health care in emerging markets. It was the kind of macro impact and execution that he craved. But he had no credentials or formal education in finance and the capital markets. So when Kurt Salmon was sold, he thought an MBA focused on investment banking was the next logical step.
His decision to attend Berkeley Haas was shaped by his experiences at Days at Haas, an event where the school invites prospective students to sit in on classes, talk to professors, and socialize with current and other prospective students.
“I’d been to a few of these at different schools, and it always felt a bit like speed dating,” says Leclere. “I was disappointed with the superficial connections and shallow depth of conversation.”
But his first evening at Berkeley, despite nasty jet lag after a flight from Dubai, he sat down to a small group dinner with a dozen others at the house of a second-year student.
A culture that fit
“That’s where it clicked,” he says. “The thoughtfulness of prospective students and the acute focus on the role and responsibility of business in addressing social issues. I thought, ‘This is the culture that fits for me.’”
It was the people at Berkeley Haas more than anything else that proved most influential over the next two years.
“Even though I’d lived in France and the Middle East and thought of myself as informed,” he says, “I continued to perceive the world through my own narrow lens and experiences.”
The diversity of his classmates and professors broadened and developed him in ways he did not expect. And it wasn’t just about different cultures.
“Anyone can read a case study, identify a problem, and craft a superficial solution,” says Leclere. “But when you’re surrounded by curious individuals, many who have worked in these industries or with these companies, it gives substance to the case and your education goes many levels deeper.”
Now an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in New York, Leclere is immersed in deals and thinks about how to continue having an impact on the healthcare landscape at a macro level.