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Peter Buggy Leads New Directions in Health Care Strategy
Alumnus Enjoys Long, Healthy Career at Kaiser Permanente

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By Marianne Skoczek

As Kaiser Permanente’s director of strategy management, Peter Buggy leads a  high-powered team of business consultants that work with the health plan’s business lines to better execute strategies and measure their success. Often referred to as the model for the future of health care, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente is the nation’s largest not-for-profit health plan and health care provider, with annual operating revenue of more than $42 billion.

What motivated you to earn an MBA?

After graduating from UC Riverside, I worked for a recreational equipment manufacturer in Ventura before being hired by Kaiser Permanente as a health plan representative in San Joaquin County in 1985.

Several years later, I had been promoted to area marketing director for Sacramento and the Central Valley. During my performance evaluation, my supervisor suggested that while I had strong relational and communication skills, my relative weakness in analytical skills would likely limit my career. I took her words to heart and determined to earn an MBA. I selected UC Davis because of its reputation as a strong quant program.

How did your UC Davis MBA help you advance professionally?

My MBA studies focused on finance and healthcare management. With this knowledge and my new analytical skills, I was able to transition from a line management role to more strategic leadership roles at the regional and statewide levels.

My career has been heavily influenced by one of Professor Michael Maher’s courses that included Kaplan and Norton’s book The Balanced Scorecard as required reading. I became very interested in strategy execution and performance management, and my enthusiasm eventually translated into my current position.

How has your nearly 30-year career at Kaiser Permanente evolved?

Back in the mid-1980s, healthcare organizations had just started to focus on sales and marketing. It was a thrill to be part of the team expanding Kaiser Permanente’s operational footprint throughout the Central Valley—from Sacramento to Fresno—over a 10-year period. The market was simpler then, and we were able to compete and grow by emphasizing Kaiser Permanente’s advantages in price, convenience and quality.

During my Kaiser Permanente career, I’ve served as the marketing leader for the Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto and Fresno markets for 10 years, as director of strategic initiatives for three years, and as director of the Office of Strategy Execution for the past five years. I’m also a charter member of the Palladium Execution Premium Community of Practice, a high-impact online community for strategy management professionals.

What’s most exciting—and most challenging—about working in health care today?

Today’s market is extremely complex in terms of product offerings, funding mechanisms, distribution channels, market segmentation and customer expectations. Making health care affordable, and hence more accessible, is the single greatest challenge. The promise and uncertainty created by healthcare reform has resulted in both opportunities and risks in the short term.

You’ve worked with a UC Davis MBA student consulting team and represented Kasier Permanente at a recent career fair at the School. What motivates you to help current students advance?

I enjoy being a good thought-partner as students figure out what interests them and where the opportunities are. And I am thrilled when they can match their interests to an opportunity at Kaiser Permanente. Five years ago, we had between three and five UC Davis MBAs working here; today we have 30—that’s a testament to quality graduates and the relationship the School has built with us.

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