By | Alexandra McLaughlin ’16

“My diverse coursework and research opportunities at Macalester prepared me for the ‘on your toes’ and innovative problem-solving aspect of consulting."      —Jyothi Dhanwada ’15

Jyothi Dhanwada ’15 (Cedar Falls, Iowa) never imagined a career in healthcare consulting. But in her senior year, an information session with Macalester alumni working in the field caught her attention. “I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare field in some capacity after graduation, but was uncertain what kind of work I wanted to do,” said Dhanwada. “Seeing Macalester alumni so excited about the work they were doing motivated me to apply.” She now works as a healthcare consultant within the Leadership Acceleration Program at Optum Consulting, a branch of UnitedHealth Group, in Eden Prairie.

“Consulting is all about problem-solving,” said Dhanwada. She works with providers, health plans, employers, individuals, and the government to solve complex business problems. Sometimes she manages a project to maintain a specific time, scope, and budget; other times she enhances a project plan to better fit the needs of a client. Recently, Dhanwada worked with a provider network on the West Coast to strengthen claims-processing, payment management, and revenue generation.  

“Consulting is fast-paced and often ambiguous work, especially in the area of healthcare, which is becoming more complex and interconnected,” said Dhanwada. “The most challenging aspect of the job is working through the ambiguity to produce tangible results that will meet the needs of your client.”

As a biology and political science major, Dhanwada entered the consulting field with a different perspective than the traditional finance or business major, a distinction she considers advantageous. “My diverse coursework and research opportunities at Macalester prepared me for the ‘on your toes’ and innovative problem-solving aspect of consulting because of the strong focus on critical and interdisciplinary thinking,” she said. “Having the ability to approach the needs of a client with this background has been extremely useful.”

Her work with Optum has revealed a new perspective on healthcare. “I love that my day-to-day work allows me to solve real-world, complex problems in the field,” said Dhanwada. “Seeing how interconnected the industry is becoming, and how fast it is growing, has motivated me to pursue graduate school; I want to better harness my skill set to work in the field long-term.”

November 13 2015

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