Meet Giri Rao, Senior Advisor

June 26, 2018

At HighPoint, one of the things that sets us apart is our approach to client engagement. Because business leaders face complex challenges that defy short-term solutions, our partnerships deliver lasting results through deep engagements. These partnerships are shaped by our drive to align on the why before executing the how and HighPoint’s Senior Advisors are an integral part of this process. Comprised of former leaders from the world’s top consulting firms, our Senior Advisors are valuable resources for clients, providing thoughtful collaboration and partnership on projects at all stages.

A former Partner at both BCG and Booz & Co., Giri Rao has over 25 years of experience advising and working with venture-backed to Fortune 500 companies in the healthcare and insurance industries. He specializes in growth strategy, business development, and operational effectiveness. He is both an investor and advisor to multiple health technology companies and has extensive experience working with health services companies on innovation, new product design and development, as well assisting companies on their digital and data science strategies and roadmaps.

Giri recently sat down with us to discuss his career, interests and experience:

You’ve been advising health care industry players for more than 25 years. What inspired you to pick this as your area of expertise?

My first exposure to health care was in India, where the government guarantees health care for all but most citizens rely on a self-pay private system. When I first came to the U.S., I was intrigued by the contradictions in the U.S. health care system. It’s one of the few industries where if supply increases, demand goes up as well, defying basic laws of economics. Consumers are largely dissatisfied with their experience, not caring about who provides their insurance, just what it offers. Insurers primarily sell their products through brokers and agents, resulting in very little control about what’s said. Now the government is involved, and it’s become even more complicated.

It’s also an industry that’s ripe for innovation. And that’s where the fun is.

Is there one client engagement that stands out in your memory?

Every project offers its own set of challenges and inspirations. I remember sitting in a meeting with the leadership team of one particular insurance provider. They were debating the fundamental question of who their primary “customer” was: their members or the health care providers that contracted with them. After several hours going back and forth, the CEO got so frustrated and said no one was leaving the room until they resolved the question.

He and I both knew that until they had a clear focus on who their primary customer was, they couldn’t iron out their strategy. Eventually, they chose the consumer, and the company transformed its business. They set up a separate unit to pursue consumers, transformed internal processes and systems, and rethought all the contracts they had with providers. The decisions made in that particular meeting basically decided the future of the company.

What inspires you most about consulting?

It comes down to three things. First, I love the intellectual challenge and the trust my clients have in me to help solve their issues. Second, I relish the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with my clients to not just solve a problem theoretically, but to work together to create solutions and manage change. And finally, I enjoy the opportunities to team up with all sorts of personalities, which keeps the work dynamic and interesting.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t think people would be surprised to hear that I play chess, or that I’m not very good at it. I picked up the game, however, not because it’s an intellectual challenge that involves lots of strategy, but because I spent so much time bored watching my kids play that I picked up the game myself.