Laureate Leadership Perspectives: Dr. Francisco Gutierrez, Senior Vice President, Medicine & Health Sciences

To continue our Laureate Leadership Perspectives, I spoke with Francisco Gutierrez about his progression as a Laureate leader since he joined the company in 2008. He leads our network’s Medicine and Health Sciences vertical and is someone who immediately comes to mind when I think about innovation and meaningful scale. His work spans 37 institutions, 17 countries, and more than 160 campuses where we are operating world-class Health Sciences schools and programs.

Esther Benjamin: How did you come into your role at Laureate? What drew you to the company?

Francisco Gutierrez: I have a background both in medicine and business and came into contact with Laureate as a consultant at some of our early institutions. I knew Ricardo [Berckemeyer] from the time I was leading the International Health Practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Washington and he invited me to conduct several of the initial health projects in the network.  From the beginning, the opportunity was very intriguing to me, and I was working very closely with some of the Laureate institutions that were just joining the network and had a presence in medicine and health sciences. When I was asked to join the company officially in 2008, it was because we saw a strategic opportunity to make Health Sciences a priority for Laureate. At the time, Health Sciences was seen by many regions and institutions as a challenging area to have programs in, as it is a highly technical and heavily regulated field. But I had no doubts about joining the company and knew that we could move beyond this short-term mindset to make this a strategic differentiator for Laureate.

EB: What are your priorities in your current role and how do you work with institutional and regional Health Sciences leaders?

FG: My role is to make this great international matrix of Health Sciences leaders and programs work to produce growth and quality. I work not only with the leaders of programs and disciplines at different institutions, but also closely with local and regional CEOs, rectors, marketing teams, and others. My team focuses on giving clear direction about growth, best practices, and strategic priorities, both at the global level, and also at the institutional level, as all of them are different and may require a unique portfolio of programs. I am also responsible for the stewardship of our unique Laureate Learning Model in Health Sciences, which aims to produce the best graduates possible through innovative educational practices. That is what makes our network so unique.

EB: What are Laureate’s most significant accomplishments in Health Sciences?

FG: There are several initiatives that we are particularly proud of. First of all, I am proud that we have been able to grow and expand in efficient and high-quality ways. There were only 30,000 Health Sciences students in the network when I joined, and now there are nearly 250,000. We know that having health professionals who can serve their communities not only contributes to the physical health of a country, but also to economic and social health. We are a part of that transformation in all of the countries where we operate. Second, the Laureate Learning Model is the network-wide model that our Health Sciences programs adopt, and it has six key methodologies and four outcomes that become the building blocks of their programs. It creates a common language that unifies all our schools, and in a field that is often bound by tradition, it has allowed us to focus on innovation, employability, and quality. And finally, as a part of that model, we link social and academic outcomes and make it a priority to serve our communities while also giving students practical experience in their disciplines. This was a natural way of doing things for us, and the social impact we have had through our institutions is incredible.

EB: How do we differentiate further in Health Sciences as we look to the future for the Laureate network?

FG: Everyone would say that we should continue to educate the best health professionals, but we want to go beyond that. Our programs need to be based on our principles of innovation and excellence, and there are a few things we are particularly focused on. We have been integrating the concept of “One Health” into our schools. This is an idea that many in the health community are talking about, and it is about recognizing that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are all linked and that we must tie those disciplines together as we educate students. We also believe that all of our students should be accustomed and committed to working with health professionals in other fields, so we make our Health Sciences programs all one school, often in one building. We want them to have inter-professional experiences so that they can get the best results for patients. And of course, we must be working with the best new technology as we educate students. It is always easier to stick with the old ways of doing things, but we want to pick the best pathway for the future. We have been recognized as pioneers and innovators in simulation, in the design of immersive labs, and we have started and want to expand our digital learning and virtual patient models to become a global leader. Our clinics are state-of-the-art and serve thousands of patients. Our network of partner hospitals and clinics in different markets is also unparalleled and critical to our future. We are committed to continuing to innovate.

EB: What keeps you going in your work as a Laureate leader, even when circumstances are challenging?

FG: For me, it really is the people. All of this success is the result of an amazing team. First of all, I know that we have the trust of the leadership of our company and that has allowed us to grow and innovate in the ways we have. I believe that our health leaders have some of the most interesting work in the network, and not only is it interesting, it is meaningful. Our faculty members inspire me when I see their enthusiasm with the adoption of our model. There are so many examples of how we are truly making a difference in our communities and even leading the way on addressing major health issues. The Here for Good mission is embedded in what we do, and I know that it is shared by my entire team.

It was a pleasure to speak with Francisco, and I want to thank him for his insights and dedication to our network. We look forward to sharing stories like his and highlighting the many ways that the leadership of our company are innovating and creating impact in the communities we serve.