Thunderbird’s Oath of Honor provides an anchor for the school’s graduates in an era of rapid change that has industries such as health care scrambling to adjust, the president of a hospital network said Aug. 21 during commencement exercises.
“The village has gone global faster than we can keep up,” said Linda Hunt, service area president for Catholic Healthcare West Arizona, which includes Chandler Regional Medical Center, Mercy Gilbert Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Phoenix. “It demands a new breed of innovative leaders.”
Hunt said these leaders will see dramatic changes as the global economy emerges from the financial crisis, but the values embedded in Thunderbird’s oath will remain constant.
“The way we conduct business, consume resources, raise our families and plan our futures will all have to evolve in new ways,” Hunt said. “But our values — derivatives of the sacred oaths and vows of our leaders — are the constants that guide us from one day to the next.”
Hunt delivered her keynote address at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa after watching 158 Thunderbird School of Global Management graduates from 18 countries stand and recite the oath, which the school adopted in 2005. Graduates included 34 LG Electronics executives from South Korea, who represented the fourth cohort in a custom Executive MBA program.
“This declaration holds the potential to be a real beacon for your profession,” Hunt said. “I hope those words moved you deeply when you recited them.”
She said similar declarations guide the way Catholic Healthcare does business. Doctors follow the Hippocratic Oath, while faith leaders follow religious vows. Hunt said she took the Florence Nightingale Pledge when she started her career as a nurse.
“Those commitments shape our entire organizational culture,” she said.
Hunt said many business leaders in the past disregarded or exploited the goodwill, the labor, the natural resources and the health of faraway countries and their people, often in the name of maximizing returns for shareholders. She said such a mindset no longer can work in the 21st century.
“Now we are in urgent need of a new cadre of leaders who truly understand the fundamentals of our increasingly global existence,” she said.
She cited many examples from the health care industry of the increasing interconnectivity that comes with globalization.
“Ten years ago, people believed that no one from the United States would travel abroad for health care,” Hunt said. “Conventional wisdom held that U.S. health care was such a cut above the rest that Americans would simply not go anywhere else.”
Yet the growth of medical tourism from the United States to foreign countries seemed to be on an unstoppable trajectory before the global financial crisis.
“In the past few years, Americans have been traveling extensively to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and India for all kinds of medical procedures,” Hunt said. “Even Mexico has seen increasing growth of this medical tourism.”
She said St. Joseph’s Hospital has seen the trend in reverse because of the international reputation of its Barrow Neurological Institute.
Globalization also impacts how Catholic Healthcare trains future physicians. Hunt said students in Arizona travel elsewhere in the world to study, while international students come to Arizona.
“And here you come, this new class of Thunderbird graduates, having just sworn an oath to do what the world needs most,” Hunt said. “Lead us into tomorrow with confidence, resolve, compassion and respect for humanity.”