KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Alex Azar

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Alex Azar Profile Photo

Keynote Speaker

Alex Azar

24th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018-2021)

Alex Azar has extensive healthcare experience in the senior-most levels of the U.S. government and the private sector that gives him a unique perspective and background. He has committed his professional career to protecting and enhancing the health of all Americans.  

Alex Azar Profile Photo

CONTACT WSB FOR Alex Azar'S SPEAKING FEES

Alex Azar served as the 24th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018-2021), leading over 85,000 employees with a budget of over $1.4 trillion, the largest budget of any cabinet department on Earth. He was the architect of Operation Warp Speed, delivering COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics in record time. He led the historic transformation of the healthcare system in the United States and HHS’s response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. He drove U.S. Government efforts to tackle the opioid crisis, increase private insurance options, bring transparency of price and quality information to healthcare, expand telehealth, give patients ownership of their health records and make those records interoperable and transportable, enable healthcare provider collaborative care models, remove regulatory barriers to low-cost, high-quality care, transform payment systems to pay for health and outcomes rather than sickness and procedures, reduce drug prices, and transform kidney care for the first time in almost 50 years. Azar also led key public health initiatives such as banning flavored e-cigarettes and reducing youth tobacco use by nearly one-third in one year, creating and implementing the program to end the HIV epidemic in America in 10 years, preparing for and responding to public health threats, crafting the first rural health initiative to improve access and quality of care, and launching a program to reduce dramatically maternal mortality. Azar has played significant roles on the global health stage, leading many of the U.S.’s global health security efforts, representing the U.S. in the World Health Assembly, working with the WHO to end Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, chairing the most active G7 health ministerial in history in 2020, and convening and leading western hemisphere coordinated efforts to assist with the Venezuelan refugee crisis.

Azar served for five years (2012-2017) as president of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest affiliate of global biopharmaceutical leader Eli Lilly and Company, producing over $10 billion in revenue (2016).  Azar previously was vice president of Lilly’s U.S. Managed Healthcare Services and Puerto Rico from 2009-2011. He joined Lilly in 2007 as senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications.  

Before his tenure at Lilly, Azar was the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2005-2007), where he was the number two official and chief operating officer.  From 2001-2005, he served HHS as General Counsel. 

Azar earned a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in government and economics from Dartmouth College in 1988, and a law degree from Yale University in 1991. After law school, he clerked for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Secretary Azar is currently an advisor to Foresite Capital, sits on several corporate boards, is a part-time Adjunct Professor of Business and Senior Executive-in-Residence at the University of Miami Herbert Business School, and is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Health Strategy Group and the American Task Force On Lebanon’s Policy Advisory Board.  Azar previously served on the boards of HMS Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: HMSY), the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the Healthcare Leadership Council, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Indianapolis Airport Authority, the American Council on Germany, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.  

Featured Videos

Alex Azar Profile Photo
Alex Azar
Alex Azar on Approving COVID-19 Vaccines
Alex Azar Profile Photo
Alex Azar
Alex Azar on Health Savings Accounts
Alex Azar Profile Photo
Alex Azar
Alex Azar on the Challenges of COVID-19
Alex Azar Profile Photo
Alex Azar
Alex Azar To Americans: ‘Please Get The Vaccine’

Alex Azar’s Speech Topics

  • Lessons and Stories from the Front Lines of Global Public Health

    Alex Azar led the Department of Health and Human Services during some of the most impactful years in the history of public health. Join Secretary Azar as he takes you on a tour of the world through the lens of global public health. 


    A vivid narrator, Azar will:

    • Walk you through the global dimensions of the COVID pandemic, including his leadership of the G7 health ministerial throughout 2020.
    • Take you to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda, where he worked with the Presidents of each country and the Director General of the WHO to contain successfully one of the most dangerous Ebola outbreaks ever, a historic public health risk and accomplishment that was overshadowed by the COVID pandemic.
    • Tell you how he assembled the health ministers of South, Central, and North America on an ongoing basis to tackle the Venezuelan refugee crisis.
    • Recount how he worked to ban flavored e-cigarettes, overcame the forces of opposition to those efforts, and helped deliver an unprecedented one-third reduction in youth tobacco use in one year.
    • Explain how Azar harnessed the vision of the nation’s top public health leaders to craft, sell, and implement the historic campaign to end the HIV epidemic in America.
    • Discuss the struggle against the opioid crisis in America, the transformation in thinking about the nature of drug addiction, and the successes and defeats in this struggle that has touched so many lives in America.
  • Purpose Driven Leadership: How to Lead Complex Organizations Through Times of Change and Uncertainty

    Gain insight from a business and government leader who has led some of the most complex and largest organizations on earth through transformational change. Secretary Azar most recently led the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the COVID pandemic and the fundamental restructuring of the American health system. He did so with his learnings and experiences as the longest-serving President of Eli Lilly and Company’s U.S. business. At Lilly, Azar steered the affiliate through the largest relative losses of exclusivity of drugs that any pharmaceutical company had experienced, repeatedly reorganizing and resizing the structure of the entire organization to meet strategic needs, operating goals, and a changing portfolio, reinventing Lilly’s commercial model, even while delivering on the existing model, all while increasing employee engagement to a whopping 88% top-two box score, gaining often industry-leading customer loyalty scores, and delivering above-plan profit, revenue, and operating expense performance each year. 


    You will hear:

    • Azar’s experiences embedding Purpose-Driven Leadership into Lilly and HHS and how a focused alignment of Mission, Vision, Strategy, and Values within an execution framework (Franklin Covey’s Four Disciplines of Execution) that creates and empowers a team of winners leads to exceptional employee engagement and teamwork, customer loyalty, and business performance even in times of disruption, uncertainty, and transformation.
    • How Azar builds resilience and confidence in teams, even as they are asked to do things differently and even as they may face uncertainty regarding their own futures.
    • How he applied these lessons and learnings to the U.S. Government’s response to the COVID pandemic and delivered transformational change to the U.S. testing system, reinvented the Strategic National Stockpile, created the first real-time public health data system, and architected Operation Warp Speed, all in the face of significant institutional and cultural resistance to change.
  • Healthcare in America: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

    During Alex Azar’s tenure as Secretary of Health and Human Services, some of the most consequential changes in modern history to how healthcare is delivered and financed in America were put in place. Learn how Secretary Azar worked to change the rules of the road in healthcare to enable a system that puts the patient at the center, removed regulatory distortions in the delivery of healthcare, and for the first time in 55 years created the preconditions for a competitive market for healthcare in which prices go down and quality improves, rather than the other way around. 


    You will hear:

    • Why the patient/consumer, rather than the government regulator or the current value chain participants, will be the most potent force for disruptive and positive change.
    • How Azar crafted and implemented his vision of healthcare in the face of internal and external resistance.
    • How he introduced a much more sophisticated stakeholder analysis process (Ron Adner’s The Wide Lens) to align obstructive forces behind positive change.
    • Why American healthcare will be fundamentally different and better a decade from now because of the transparency of prices, enablement of coordinated care delivery, payment for total cost of care, portability of a patient’s health records, and deregulation/right-regulation of healthcare delivery that Azar delivered during his tenure.
    • Why these changes will endure regardless of who is in political power.
  • Operation Warp Speed: Lessons From Business – Lessons For Business

    Hear from the architect of Operation Warp Speed how Secretary Azar combined his extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry with his deep understanding of government programs to create and co-chair the largest and most successful biomedical development program in world history, delivering vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19 within months. Almost everyone said it couldn’t be done. But seven months later, thanks to OWS, the United States had two remarkably safe and effective vaccines with tens of millions of doses and authorized therapeutics to treat COVID. Many attribute its success to good fortune or a “miracle,” but he knows the truth. The success of OWS was a function of exceptional leadership and teamwork, an insightful strategy, and exacting execution.  As a result of the vision he articulated and the incredible OWS team he and his co-chair Secretary of Defense Mark Esper assembled, and the efforts of the biopharmaceutical industry, hundreds of millions of Americans were already vaccinated less than one year after OWS was announced. 


    A gripping raconteur, Azar will:

    • Tell the story of how Operation Warp Speed came to be.
    • Discuss how learnings from his time at HHS leading medical countermeasures programs and pandemic preparedness and his comprehensive knowledge of the drug development process and how drug companies function enabled him to build OWS to solve the critical problems standing in the way of development, approval, and commercial-scale manufacturing within months of the pandemic’s hitting our shores.
    • Describe how OWS cut through the normal bureaucratic barriers associated with the federal government and the unprecedented relationship he established with DOD.
    • Reflect on the lessons learned from OWS for future government Manhattan Projects and lessons for business leaders who need to lead teams and organizations to do the “impossible.”

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