Some Marshall stories feature an alumna. Some highlight business success that goes beyond the everyday. Some stories focus on real-world influence and improving lives.
Kathryne Cooper and The West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics (CTIP), recently the subjects of a case study by Pai-Ling Yin and Benjamin Rostoker for the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, represent all three. The case,“Kathryne Cooper and CTIP: Accelerating Diversity in Medtech,” focused on the path to increasing diversity among applicants to the CTIP portfolio and claimed third in the 2020 Case for Women competition, organized by Emerald Publishing.
Cooper’s educational journey took her from the UCLA Lab School, to Harvard-Westlake, Stanford, and acceptance into the USC Keck School of Medicine.
After a few years into her studies at Keck, she pivoted to the business world of healthcare startups; first at a healthcare technology company, then at FIGS Medical Apparel via a request from a friend from Stanford. While leading business development, Cooper enrolled in the Marshall Online MBA program. The culmination of her experience in medicine and business, including the connections made at USC, led her to consult, and eventually take on a Co-Director role, with CTIP.
Cooper’s story encapsulates anything but the linear path many envision for success in either medicine or business, let alone a combination of the two.
“I certainly never expected to be part of a case study,” said Cooper. “That’s usually something commonly associated with Fortune 500 CEOs, and it can be tough to think of oneself in that way.”
Developing that ability to see herself as the focus of a case – and the relevance for students who may never have otherwise seen themselves as a case protagonist – was a core motivation for Cooper.
Representation is a Learning Opportunity
“Some students see their experience and identity represented all the time in class and never have to step outside themselves to be the center of the story,” said Cooper. “Others never see their experiences or anyone like them represented and are constantly expending that cognitive effort to put themselves into the cases, into the class lessons.”
She was invited to speak on the recently released case study in two classes; an undergraduate class and one at the MBA level.
It was the feedback she received after the classes that had the biggest impact on her, she said. The students’ questions in essence allowed her to “see” the case and its impact through their eyes.
“When I spoke to the undergraduate class, women who didn’t normally participate in class discussions were very involved with questions,” she said. “And in the MBA class a woman came up afterward to tell how inspiring it was to learn about Black women in leadership roles. We had a lovely follow-up conversation about opportunities in investing and innovation.”
Students’ engagement with the case meant it was a success, she said.
“The goal in connecting with the case process is to help others understand and explore healthcare innovation,” she said.
As she was discussing a potential case with Yin, Cooper was also contributing as an alumna in the Greif Center's DEI task force. She found the two experiences complemented each other.
“That was an incredible experience,” said Cooper, “providing a first-hand look at what the Greif Center is doing to change the teaching of entrepreneurship.”
The Value Add
Beyond seeing a woman of color as an entrepreneurial player, the CTIP case is helping students understand the role the organization plays in the accelerator and medical device markets.
Prior to Cooper’s arrival in 2017, CTIP, funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), primarily distributed innovation grants. Cooper helped lead the transformation and reorganization, so it functioned more like an accelerator and micro-VC fund, albeit using the same public funding.
“Kathryne’s approach ensured that the companies that she is supporting in the pediatric medical device space received not only some funding,” said Dan Wadhwani, professor of clinical entrepreneurship at the Greif Center who taught the case, “but also guidance and access to a network to navigate the tricky process of approval and commercialization.”
Wadhwani used the example of CTIP as a “model” for student projects. Groups of students were charged with identifying an opportunity in an industry where they could have a targeted impact, and then given a hypothetical $5 million to develop a portfolio and a sensible accelerator program.
“It turned out to be a fantastic way for students to learn strategically about innovation,” said Wadhwani.
“This entire experience was wild,” said Cooper. “In the best possible way.”