Sharon Bracken

MBA '13

President
Abbott Point of Care

What do you do professionally?

I am fortunate to lead a global diagnostic business for Abbott Laboratories. We manufacture a wide variety of diagnostic tests used by our healthcare customers around the globe. In my division, we provide portable diagnostic tests. We are able to help healthcare providers shape their diagnostic workflow to provide optimal patient care and favorable economic outcomes.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Personally, healthcare is a very fulfilling space, because you can tangibly see the benefits of health and ultimately the positive impacts on peoples' lives through solutions we provide to the market. I have worked in other industries as well but I find the healthcare industry is so motivating. The industry brings richness and challenge with the multiple variables presented through optimizing care management, driving for high quality innovation, while balancing economics. As a person who thrives on problem solving and collaboration, there's plenty of opportunity in healthcare. The most enjoyable part of the job is working with a group of people who all want to change the world for the better—I see many parallels with the Team Fuqua culture and aspiration.

What is the biggest challenge you face?

As the head of my business, I am responsible for creating a motivating environment for our employees. So communication (I know a cliché) is always top of mind, and understanding how people are feeling, while striking a balance with high expectations and providing context of the overall landscape is critical.

What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?

Fortunately I've been to China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, many countries in Europe, Turkey, Australia and Japan to name a few. India intrigues me. The deep and vastly rooted history opposed by rapid progress and innovation creates such a striking contrast of energy. Lots of macro-level problem solving is happening in India right now and I have been there more recently to study opportunities to improve healthcare in clinics and hospitals. I am impressed with the sophistication and independence that many of the healthcare institutions have built despite infrastructure and logistical challenges.

What is the best professional advice you've received?

That we can't be everything to all people and be successful, one must become adept at prioritizing what is important, and make conscious decisions about what is deprioritized. Be true, don't try to emulate someone else—be yourself, and treat everyone with respect.

Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?

A sound engineer where I can tour around at a variety of concert shows and listen to great live music while helping it sound better!

What do you like to do outside of work?

My two daughters, my husband, and I enjoy boating, off-roading, and getting good seats at concerts.

What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?

Macroeconomics—not just in the classroom, but out on our field trips. Things that may not appear connected at a surface look may very well have deep relationships. Learning becomes so much more fulfilling by getting out and experiencing the environment and connections on the ground.

Who was your favorite professor?

A tie between Allan Lind and Katherine Schipper. Allan really helped put structure and context around what makes good leadership. I had been through several leadership courses, but never attended a robust class in leadership. Having served in a number of leadership roles, I found Alan's approach very beneficial in bringing the aspects of leadership to life. Katherine taught me about the complexity and variety of global influences relative to "how things work." I would never understand the realms of possibility for how industry, community, cultures, and commerce are shaped without attending her class.

What is your favorite Fuqua memory?

Riding in tuk-tuks and rickshaws then touring the local streets in China, India, and Thailand with my classmates to experience the cities.

Why do you support the Fuqua Annual Fund?

Duke is such a powerful global force, with exponential impact on the world, and I love Duke's culture - leading, thoughtful, externally-focused but with a striking element of humility. I want to help preserve the legacy.

What does Team Fuqua mean to you?

Impressive people, even when working separately, are always connected and collectively changing the world for the better.