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T'08

Julie Skaff

Chief Operating Officer, Viz.ai

When you go to Tuck, you're there for two years, but you're a part of the community for the rest of your life.

The Journey

Julie Skaff T’08 studied Political Science and planned to become a lawyer before her work as a legislative aide for Sen. Diane Feinstein intervened. In three years on Capitol Hill, Skaff gained an appetite for tackling complex issues that a legal career seemed unlikely to satisfy. “I realized an MBA would better prepare me for the kind of work that I wanted to do, which was addressing the big macro issues I dealt with on the Hill, but in a more innovative and entrepreneurial way,” says Skaff, who chose Tuck for its academic rigor and strong feeling of community. “When you go to Tuck, you're there for two years, but you're a part of the community for the rest of your life.

The Revelation

After graduation Skaff joined the health care group at Booz & Company, for reasons both practical (much of the industry is centered around New York) and idealistic. “Once you start working in health care and get that adrenaline rush of having a positive impact, it’s hard to think about being in another industry,” Skaff says. A founding team member at OODA Health, a startup developing technology to streamline the health care payment system, she is now Chief Operating Officer at Viz.ai, which uses artificial intelligence to speed stroke treatment.

If doctors identify a particularly devastating type of stroke called a Large Vessel Occlusion quickly enough, they can clear the blockage using new procedures, but due to delays in diagnosis and lack of coordination, fewer than 10 percent of patients receive the treatment. “In stroke care, we say ‘time is brain.’ For every minute somebody is not treated they lose two million brain cells,” Skaff says, adding that studies have demonstrated Viz.ai’s technology saves an average of 52 minutes.

The Future

Skaff’s health care career has provided her the opportunity she sought to make meaningful change, and fostered a deep appreciation for the type of wise leadership the industry needs. “There’s huge opportunity for programs like Tuck and MHCDS because you need people who understand the constraints of health care. Facebook used to talk about ‘go fast and break things.’ Well, it’s the opposite in health care. In health care it’s ‘first, do no harm.’”

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