Dr. I. Pete Hanna, WG’20, came to Wharton to bring more value to medicine by expanding his business knowledge.

Dr. I. Pete Hanna, WG’20, became a surgeon to help one patient at a time. Today, he is impacting thousands of patients as chief medical officer of Inova Mount Vernon Hospital in Northern Virginia.

Pete’s healthcare journey began in his home country of Syria, where he attended medical school before moving to the U.S. for his surgical residency. As his career grew, he became chair of surgery at a hospital and a medical school and took on more executive roles at a large health system level. Working with high-level management and leaders, he began thinking about getting an MBA.

“With fast developing technology and the huge amounts of raw data that comes with it, the financial and regulatory complexities of the healthcare system are more challenging to maneuver. Historically, physicians focus on one-on-one relationships with patients to give them the best care – while management, finance, and technology are not part of our medical training. However, all aspects of healthcare are tied together in medicine,” he said. “I realized that to bring more value to medicine, I needed to expand my business knowledge.”

Pete and his classmates pose at a HRC fundraiser

As he looked at executive MBA programs, Pete decided that Wharton was the right fit for him. He explained, “Wharton has a world-renowned reputation, a focus on quantitative learning and leadership, and a global network of change makers and leaders in their fields.”

Another differentiator for Wharton, he noted, is its focus on helping students make a bigger impact. “There are a lot of MBA programs out there that offer a basic management and leadership education. Only a few teach you how to make a real impact, and it was clear to me that Wharton is at the top of that list. In addition to its incredible and powerful alumni network, Wharton students take an extra step to dive deeper into the foundations of leadership, operations, finance, strategy, and entrepreneurship. They breathe data and complex calculations day in and day out. That is what it takes to make a great impact.”

He also pointed to the program’s focus on all industries as opposed to solely healthcare as a unique benefit. “As a physician, I did not want a healthcare-focused MBA. I already have knowledge about the healthcare system — I wanted to learn how healthcare can benefit from other industries.”

An Inclusive Environment

Pete with his learning team

Pete, who is openly gay, says he felt at home at Wharton from day one. “The diversity of the program covers the entire spectrum of backgrounds and ethnicities. Not only have I felt included and celebrated, but classmates and alumni connections provide another layer of support and close relationships. I was enlightened every day by my wonderful classmates, and I felt the psychological safety to be who I am, and hopefully I enlightened them as well.”

He added, “It starts with the culture of the program, and that was clearly defined from the first day.

Career Impact

As Pete approached graduation, he was excited to put his business knowledge to use in a new role. “I felt ready to conquer the world, but then I realized that you can’t drink the ocean. To make an impact, I needed focus and direction.”

Utilizing the individual career coaching offered to Wharton EMBA students and networking with classmates and Wharton alumni, he started to find that focus and direction. It became clear that he would bring the most value in a hospital or healthcare system administration setting.

Pete Hanna and his group wear matching navy Wharton shirts. They pose with bike parts in front of red and blue stadium seats.
Pete with his learning teammates after a successful bike build

“I began looking for a hospital that is part of a robust and innovative health system and was incredibly honored and privileged to become the chief medical officer at Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, working alongside an amazing team of great leaders across the health system and in an organization recognized regionally and nationally for its outcomes, culture and vision. I’m excited to put all of my lessons from Wharton into action from management and operations to team leadership, strategy, finance and, most importantly, data analytics,” he said.

“One of the biggest areas of pride for Wharton is its quantitative focus and how students learn to utilize data to drive operational and strategic decisions. I am using those quantitative learnings on a daily basis. I look at all of the clinical and financial data and I see opportunities to make an impact. This requires critical thinking, innovative imagination, a true understanding of data and knowing how to utilize it to deliver better results. Most of all, making a true impact requires the courage to challenge the norms and debate new ideas – a trait every successful leader should possess.”

Pete added, “Coming to this program was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Read more about Pete and what to expect in the first week at Wharton.

– By Meghan Laska

Posted: February 28, 2022

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