The rest of the 100 (in alphabetical order): Busy Burr, Humana Health Ventures

Busy Burr, now chief innovation officer and head of Humana Health Ventures, has responsibility for one of the most important challenges in society – improving health.

It is a role she has leapt at. Bruce Broussard, CEO of US-based Humana, in support of Burr’s nomination for the GCV Powerlist last year said: “Busy Burr joined Humana at an important time in our company’s history as we focus on delivering on our bold goal of improving our members’ health 20% by 2020.

“To accelerate our progress toward that goal, it’s critical that we seek out, attract, partner with and invest in the most innovative startups in health care.

“In a remarkably short time, Busy has built a world-class venture team and made Humana a prominent and respected partner in the health industry. Our members are already reaping the rewards of the investments and collaborations Busy and her team have identified, established and continue to grow.”

Based in California and reporting to chief innovation officer Chris Kay until his departure last year to set up CEK Ventures when she stepped up as CIO, she was previously a managing director of Citi Ventures and led large-scale innovation efforts as the global head of US-listed bank Citigroup’s DesignWorks before joining Humana in 2015.

At Humana, Burr has founded the company’s Silicon Valley office and built a world-class team and reputation in healthcare venturing and innovation in the space of a year – a remarkably short time.

In her profile, Burr said: “Humana pays approximately $40bn in medical benefits annually. Leading the Healthcare Cost Trend organisation, I am accountable for driving the strategy, operations, digital products and programs that bend the trend on medical costs. In just two years at Humana, my team has transformed existing operations and built new programs, products, and processes to deliver over $500m in medical cost savings over the next five years by focusing on member health – at a time when medical costs are rising rapidly.

“As chief innovation officer, I lead the enterprise-wide innovation strategy and efforts to build new platforms, assets and technologies to enable new business models for Humana. I am also the founding partner of Humana’s Health Ventures group, charged with identifying, partnering and investing in the most-promising emerging companies in the health care space.”

She and her team have met with hundreds of startups and other leaders in the venture community and she recently closed investments in Omada, Livongo, and Aspire Health. Livongo Health, the US-based developer of an assistance platform for chronic health conditions, raised a further $105m at an $800m valuation last month, while Omada closed on another $50m round last year.

She said for last year’s award: “I am inspired by and proud of the team we have built…from amazing investor leaders (Saurabh Bhansali was recognised as a GCV Rising Star [2017]!), to a team of outstanding researchers, product developers, designers and other innovators who are champions and advocates for our startup partners, guiding them through the complexity of working with a large Fortune [75] company. We have worked tirelessly to change internal processes like onboarding in order to move at Silicon Valley speed. We have also created an enterprise wide ‘Discovery Network’ connecting people across Humana who are engaging with startups in order to provide more seamless connectivity for our startup partners.

“While we are proud of our investments and the work we do with our startup partners, my proudest moments this year have come from the time my team has spent with our members.

“We have long believed that despite being the primary consumers of health care in this country, Medicare members rarely, if ever, have a seat at the table when technologies and services are designed for them. Our intergenerational code-a-thon, which put seniors together with coders and developers enabled us to bring insights back to folks developing for Amazon Echo, as we placed Alexa in the homes of seniors —some cognitive impairment — to learn how the technology can work for them. We also partnered with Omada to bring their Prevent program to Medicare members, learning a great deal about how they adopt virtual solutions.

“It has been those face-to-face moments, talking with our members to learn how to bring the right kind of changes… that’s what keeps me fired up.”

In addition, she established and directs the work of a new products foundry including research, design, development and commercialisation functions. This has built on her cutting-edge work before entering healthcare.

Among her accomplishments at Citibank was leadership of the transformational redesign of Citi’s Global Private Bank, an initiative which received innovation awards as Spear’s Private Bank of the Year and Euromoney’s Best Overall Bank.

Burr is the author of From Ideas to Impact, a playbook for driving innovation in a global enterprise and said her innovation bug started early. When she was in the third grade 9aged about eight or nine), she built a time machine out of a refrigerator box. It was a disappointing failure, but it marked the first of her many adventures into disrupting the status quo, she said. Since then, her inspirational leadership and passion for customer experience has resulted in several groundbreaking businesses and products, and she holds patents (some pending) in mass – customisation, alternative currency and social payments.

After school she spent seven years in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston executing initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions for some of the best companies in the technology space.

As vice-president of Global Brand Management at Gap, she was responsible for creating global branding consistency across merchandising, print, TV, stores and online for four brands in six countries. As entrepreneur-in-residence at eBay, she led the creation of an innovative social e-commerce platform.

Burr holds an MBA from Stanford and a BA in Economics from Smith College. She was named one of Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence in 2016 and has been honoured as Frost & Sullivan’s Innovator of the Year. A sought-after speaker and collaborator, she is also a long-time performing member of the Bay Area improv troupe Subject to Change.