It's corporate America's version of boot camp.
Over a two-week period in bitter January, a group of executives from around the country and abroad live together, dine together and log 14- to 15-hour days dissecting financial case studies.
Those who survive Harvard Business School's corporate finance seminar find this sort of "basic training" isn't basic at all.
It's "intense, challenging and strategic," said Michael T. Healy, vice president of finance and chief financial officer at Sacred Heart Health Services in Yankton, S.D.
"I also survived the blizzard of 1996," added Healy, who arrived in Boston a day before a record snowstorm blanketed the Northeast.
As winner of the 1995 Cain Brothers award, which honors a top finance executive in healthcare (June 5, 1995, p. 45), Healy attended Harvard's 1996 Focused Financial Management series for senior executives. Cain Brothers, a New York-based investment banking and capital advisory firm, paid Healy's tuition, room and board.
The 14-day session, which drew executives from an array of industries, provided "an opportunity to really get exposed to corporate America from a nonhealthcare perspective," Healy said. It has helped him focus on useful concepts that have not been widely applied in healthcare.
One of the seminar's modules, "Creating value through corporate structuring," proved particularly useful. Healy is scrutinizing Sacred Heart's programs and services for consolidation opportunities and assessing existing capital investments to maximize returns. The exercise is part of the rural referral center's strategic planning process.
At Harvard, he learned that "we (in healthcare) have to be much more timely in assuring that we're utilizing our assets to the best of their ability."
Healy attended all four modules offered by Harvard, including sessions on the evolution of private equity, risk management in corporate financing and valuation. Some 30 executives participated in each module, working individually and in groups on eight case studies. Healy was one of five executives who attended every module, covering 32 cases in all.
The four modules revolved around defining, protecting and defending the balance sheet, Healy observed. Healthcare finance executives must strengthen the left side of the balance sheet, where assets are recorded, and adopt appropriate risk-management strategies to manage liabilities posted on the right side of the sheet, he said.
Healy was impressed by Harvard's faculty, whose case-study presentations represented real business situations. "The professors themselves had written and had worked with the companies in developing these cases, and that made the opportunity to learn in depth about the cases much greater," he said.
Nominations for this year's Cain Brothers award will be accepted through Aug. 1. Applications may be obtained by calling Claudia Pinto or Becky Grzywacz at 312-280-3173. The 1996 winner and runners-up will be announced in the Sept. 16 issue.