Betting on Better Health Care in Southern Europe
When Alberto Fernández Sabater (MBA ’03) selected JPMorgan for a summer internship in 2002, the dot-com bubble had burst and banks weren’t hiring. A job in a buzzworthy group like consumer, financial institutions, or technology, media and telecom wasn’t available.
“‘Sorry, you’re going to health care,’” Fernandez says the hiring manager told him. “But let me tell you something: Health care is the only industry that has been growing for the last 20 years and will continue to grow for the next 20.”
Seventeen years later, the prediction is on point, and Fernandez is proof. As the sector evolved, his career in investment banking with a health care focus soared. Fernandez worked at JPMorgan, Rothschild and Blackstone/PJT, where he led the health care industry team in Europe for three years. In January, he became CEO of Healthcare Activos after helping found it and three years of board service.
With €500 million in assets under management in Spain, the Madrid-based firm’s two funds invest in health care real estate.
The portfolio includes nursing homes, acute-care hospitals and social health centers, with plans to add diagnostic centers and clinics for specialized medicine and mental health.
“Health care is one of the few industries where, if you invest in better quality and more technology, not only do you provide better care for your patients, but you’re more successful,” Fernandez says. “Doing the right thing is better for patients, better for the payer because it’s cheaper — the majority of health care in Europe is publicly funded — and better for the provider because it’s more profitable.”
Health care even a decade from now will look dramatically different, he says, calling the industry “fascinating.” Industry observers predict more outpatient surgeries, services for seniors and use of telemedicine. Less time will be spent in doctors’ offices and hospital beds.
Healthcare Activos owns more than 40 buildings – 35 already in operation and 9 under construction – and it plans to continue growing significantly in the coming months and years in Southern Europe.
Fernandez says he is in full-on entrepreneur mode, following the creative impulse that emerges when learning something new. It reminds him of his time at Darden, where he found the right mix of rigorous academics and entrepreneurial, outside-the-box thinking. In one of his favorite classes, “Organizational Behavior” with Professor Jim Clawson, he learned about flow theory.
“When you are in flow, which means that you sit at your desk doing what you have to do, the time flies and you realize you’re in the zone. You really feel you are succeeding at what you are doing,” he says. “The reality is when I finish work, I realize, whoa, Clawson, I’ve been in flow a long time today.”