FACES: Andre Heeg, Managing Director and Partner at BCG Digital Ventures Berlin
From facial reconstructive surgery and the startup world to DV, Andre Heeg wants to make an impact.
Before entering the business world, Andre Heeg trained and practiced as a doctor and dentist. He holds degrees in both medicine and dentistry, and worked as a maxillofacial surgeon.
Now, after a varied career, he finds himself at BCGDV. Although technology and business might seem like a radical departure from maxillofacial surgery, Andre’s reason for leaving the medical world stems from a motivation that brings both together: The desire to make an impact.
“I loved working as a surgeon, it was very practical and hands on. You see immediate impact: Someone comes in, you operate and fix it, the patient is better. But I calculated that, if I’m a surgeon for 40 years, I’d probably reach 100,000 people and impact their lives directly. That’s great, but it’s not a million people. I wanted to learn how I could make an impact on a bigger scale. That’s what led me to business.”
“I calculated that, if I’m a surgeon for 40 years, I’d probably reach 100,000 people and impact their lives directly. That’s great, but it’s not a million people. I wanted to learn how I could make an impact on a bigger scale.”
Andre began his career outside medicine as a management consultant, where he learned the ins and outs of business operations and helped companies on what he describes as an intellectual level. This was closer to his goal of impacting more people, but it still wasn’t enough. “I got to look at problems and recommend solutions. But I wasn’t the one executing. It wasn’t hands-on like surgery. I’m a practical person, I wanted to do it myself.”
Balancing his desire for impact with his desire to execute sparked a move to the startup world. Leveraging his medical experience, Andre moved into the fledgling healthtech sector, joining online medical care appointment booking service Zocdoc in New York, a city he’d dreamed of living in since childhood. “Zocdoc was one of the first healthcare technology startups to get significant traction. I became responsible for the commercial side of their business.”
With his medical background established, Andre was well-positioned to see the potential of technology to provide advances in the healthcare industry. His career trajectory aligns strongly with the growth of the healthtech sector.
“It was obvious for me early on. At that time we saw Yelp, OpenTable, and LinkedIn take off, and we all already had Facebook. I began to see how tech and consumer-centric products enabled by tech were becoming increasingly integral to our lives. I saw no reason why healthcare should be an exception. As a doctor, I had an intimate perspective into healthcare, and I saw how archaic it was. Many of the things that were done when I first worked in that area more than 10 years ago are still being done today.”
Here, in the digitization of healthcare, Andre had identified an area where he could have a decisive, hand-on role while impacting a huge number of people. He moved on from startup life to Sandoz, a subsidiary of Novartis, where he joined as Chief Digital Officer, looking to unlock the potential of the company’s massive scale through digitization. “What drew me to Sandoz was the sheer scale. 500m patients per year use Sandoz products. If I could impact this number of people I’d be really close to my dream as a young doctor of making an impact in the lives of millions.”
In Andre’s view, the healthcare sector has a huge amount of room for further digitization, more so than many other sectors that are already some way along the path in their digital journeys. It also has the scope for the deployment of radical new technologies to solve humanity’s greatest challenges.
“There is still the need to digitize a lot of the basic things: E-prescriptions, home delivery, healthcare accessibility based on consumer tech. This can be solved by taking a consumer-led approach. Then there’s the potential of high-tech, cutting edge solutions to advance life and health overall. There’s the fancy stuff, like Elon Musk’s Neurolink, technology to reverse aging, people working on eradicating cancer…looking at the computing power that will be available in the next few decades, addressing these issues becomes a likely reality.”
Andre is now a Managing Director and Partner at DV, where he’ll take a key role in the company’s healthcare work. He’s excited about combining the hands-on approach that he’s applied to working as a surgeon and at startups with the scale provided by large corporates. “There are a lot of smart people at corporates, but they sometimes lack the ability to move fast. DV moves fast and can help corporates to do the same, while also leveraging their resources. There’s so much potential in the healthcare sector, and so much DV can do to unlock it.”