Five years ago, Shane Kiernan was an investment banker for a private equity real estate fund, helping evaluate potential acquisitions. In 2008, he established, and subsequently sold, a Dublin-based business called DealHunter that enabled consumers in Southern Ireland to buy products from Northern Ireland more cheaply. Today he’s studying at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) on a Fulbright Scholarship, on track to earn a master of science in health policy and management in 2014. His goal? To bring his business expertise to bear on health care improvements that have a transformational impact.

Why the switch? One reason is that Kiernan came from a family of health professionals—his father is a primary care doctor in Navan, County Meath, in Northeast Ireland. His mother is a nurse, his older brother is a doctor, and his sister is a neuropsychologist—so, even though Kiernan didn’t want to be a doctor himself, caring about people’s health was ingrained.

Another reason was rather serendipitous: in the spring of 2010, Kiernan happened to attend a lecture at his alma mater, University College Dublin, where he learned about the work of the Clinton Foundation, which fosters public-private partnerships to improve health, the environment, and economies around the world. It helped him realize that he could use his financial expertise not just in the world of business, but also in the developing world to make a difference in the lives of others. “For me, it kind of clicked,” he said.

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