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Kageyama-Hunt Global Speaker Series Brings Global Heathcare Leader to Campus

  • Global Education
  • Speaker Program
Kageyama-Hunt Global Speaker Series Brings Global Heathcare Leader to Campus

On February 16 Dr. Karan Thakur delivered the 13th Annual Kageyama-Hunt Global Speakers address in the Chapel. 

An award winning healthcare administrator, public speaker, opinion writer and policy expert on healthcare based out of New Delhi, India, Dr. Thakur serves as the Group Lead for Sustainability and Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance for Apollo Hospitals, India’s largest hospital group with 73 hospitals, 300+ clinics, and over 5000 pharmacies. With over fifteen years of experience in varied roles, Dr. Thakur specializes in hospital operations, project management, healthcare policy, public-private partnerships, human resource management and team building. 

In 2022, Dr. Thakur was chosen as the Eisenhower Fellowships Global Fellow (along with former Global Speaker Jason Hsu), where he studied how American healthcare institutions are decarbonizing and building resilience while strengthening their promotion of public health in the face of colossal climate change challenges.

Seeking to engage boys in his personal as well as professional journey, Dr. Thakur opened his address with Namaste, the traditional Indian greeting, and a brief introduction to his many identities: father, son, husband, doctor, Formula 1 fan, cricketer, administrator, and activist. Reflecting upon his evolution from clinical physician to administrator to climate advocate/ activist, Dr. Thakur shared his core ethical principles: Greek physician Hippocrates’ injunction to “First, do no harm” and the Ashoka Chakra. 

As India’s air and water pollution climbed to alarming rates, compromising public health, Dr. Thakur felt compelled to revisit his interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath, which has guided medical practice for millennia. If he was caring for individual patients but not bringing about change in how the health care sector conducted its business — with relation to its delivery of care, energy consumption, water use, and sourcing of medical equipment and medicine — then was he really doing no harm? The Chakra, familiar to most people from India’s flag, represents a wheel which symbolizes the virtues and actions that result in harmony. According to Dr. Thakur, the hub represents core principles and beliefs; the spokes stand for perspectives and actions, and the outer wheel represents how those perspectives and actions impact community and the world at large. Having faced the harsh reality that the healthcare sector’s status quo was contributing to, and not mitigating, the climate crisis, Dr. Thakur felt impelled to go back to square one. Were his perspectives and actions really aligned with his core principles and beliefs? And if not, then how did his actions (and career) need to change in order that his work truly “do no harm”?

Dr. Thakur’s reflections catalyzed a career shift and his ongoing commitment to helping the Apollo Hospital Group (and now India’s health care sector at large) reduce its carbon footprint across its operations. Citing Gandhi and the Boston Medical Center (BMC) as inspirations for his shift, he spoke of the challenges involved in getting institutions and people to change their ways of doing business. Gandhi’s injunction to “Be the change that you want to see in the world” is manifested in the BMC’s dramatic turnaround from the brink of receivership to international health care leader in sustainability.

In 2021, as India was still grappling with the COVID epidemic, Dr. Thakur helped launch the Apollo Sustainability Action Plan (ASAP). Launched initially in eight hospitals, ASAP now extends to 43 hospitals, over 5,000 pharmacies, 23 clinics, and 700 tele-health centers. An emissions inventory led to organization-wide projects to reduce energy, water, and waste emissions, increase efficiencies, and build Plan buy-in from the ground level to the executive suite. 

Beyond Apollo’s ASAP initiative, Dr. Thakur has galvanized support at the national level for health sector-wide efforts and has advocated and spoken at international healthcare gatherings with the goal of achieving health sector Net Zero. 

Closing where he began, Dr. Thakur challenged each audience member to reflect upon the principles and beliefs they hold most dear. Use them to guide your decisions in life and never be afraid to return to Square One to reevaluate and recalibrate your choices and actions. He closed his address with some inspirational words from Henry David Thoreau, nearby Concord’s beloved naturalist, activist, and philosopher: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

About the Speaker Series
The Kageyama-Hunt Lecture Series, established in 2012 by Belmont Hill parents Bill and Yuko Hunt, brings speakers to campus who model global citizenship and can inspire generations of Belmont Hill boys to embrace the challenges and opportunities of an interconnected world.


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