Q&A with Ali Hashemi of Avicenna Partners

Ali Hashemi
Co-Founder, Managing Partner
Avicenna Partners

What is your fondest memory from your time at Duke?

One fall semester, we had an unseasonably warm December… i tied up a hammock between two trees in the Sarah P Duke gardens, and studied for my organic chemistry finals – in style.

What advice would you give a young business person going into health care today?

Three things to always keep in mind as you build your career:

  1. Achieve expert status in whatever you do – content depth matters. what will ultimately differentiate you to employers, to investors, and to stakeholders is what you know and how well you can put it into practice.
  2. Be generous with your time when helping and connecting others. Invest in relationships, based on trust and with a long term view. This mindset, layered on top of the first point around content depth, will pay dividends… folks you’ve impacted with your time won’t soon forget and will return the favor many times over.
  3. Look for problems to solve, avoid the opposite – which is championing orphan “solutions” looking for relevance.

What do you wish you knew at the start of your career that took years to understand?

The importance of surrounding yourself with people smarter than you. As a younger version of myself, I always endeavored to be the smartest guy in the room. Not only was this an outrageously presumptive way to approach life, it was also immensely naïve. The moment you recognize that there will always be someone out there more experienced than you in a particular area is when you begin to understand the concept of collaboration and constructive leverage. Strong leaders pull together brilliant people and minds to achieve great things.

What is the most exciting initiative in your organization today, and why?

We are rapidly evolving the provision of long term care and rehabilitation in the Middle East. It is an area that had not been seriously tackled in a comprehensive and holistic way. We jumped in to solve some very big problems facing government and society. There were, and still are, a great many patients here “stuck” in acute-care hospitals as long-term patients. Some of them are truly long-term, in that they will never be able to return to a home setting. Others are rehab patients with the potential for functional recovery and reintegration into society. Across the board, we have worked with our government counterparts to re-write laws and regulations and architect health care finance reform to make an impact on these patients’ lives. But what’s probably more impactful than the policy and strategy work is the human side of what we’re doing. Many of our patients have effectively been neglected for years by a system that has not had the capabilities to be attuned to their physical and mental needs. We have pioneered work on the introduction of art, music, and poetic therapy into our care model. We work with local artists – who come in and spend hours interaction with our paraplegic patients, often on life support – to create original works of art to adorn their rooms and the hospital hallways. Not only is the collaboration incredibly uplifting for patients who are otherwise essentially imprisoned in their bodies, but it is also quite cathartic for the artists and volunteers who get involved.

What does the future of health care services look like to physicians and providers in the Middle East?

The great thing about working in developing economies is that the future is almost certainly better than the past. There is tremendous scope for improvement and impact – and young professionals, whether on the clinical or investment side, will find plenty to keep them challenged and motivated.


About Mr. Hashemi

Ali Hashemi is a Co-Founder at Avicenna Partners. He is a health care strategist and a widely-consulted expert on health care in the countries of the MENA+T region. Prior to co-founding Avicenna Partners, Mr. Hashemi was the founding member and leader of the Middle East health care Practice for Booz & Company, a top-tier international management consultancy, where he led health care strategy and investment advisory assignments for private equity, corporate, institutional and public sector clients across the Europe, Middle East and Asia, and across all major verticals including services, insurance, pharmaceuticals, devices and biotech.  He was previously based in New York City as a member of Bain & Company’s health care and Private Equity practices. He currently serves as a member of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Regional Advisory Board for the Middle East, as well as the Advisory Board of the Duke Islamic Studies Center (DISC).

Mr. Hashemi studied Medicine and received his MBA concurrently from McGill University as part of a joint MD/MBA program. He also received a B.S.E. with Distinction from Duke University with a dual major in Biomedical Engineering and Religion and a minor in Chemistry.