Alumnus gives back to MBA students

James “Jim” Corbett knows learning a concept in the classroom doesn’t always translate into understanding it in the workplace. That’s why the alumnus, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas in 1980, worked to help launch a new speaker series in the KU School of Business that will bring top business executives into the classroom over the 2018–19 academic year.

“Connecting the business experience to the academic experience is what can benefit students tremendously,” Corbett said.

He kicked off the series Aug. 15 during the school’s MBA student orientation and will serve as this year’s featured speaker.

“My career passion is working and developing organizations and people,” Corbett said. “I love to help them gain new capabilities, develop new skills and grow in their careers.”

In his own career, the alumnus has excelled in the world of medical tech. He has served as CEO of Alphatec Spine, Vertos Medical, ev3 Inc., Microtherapeutics, Home Diagnostics Inc.; president of Boston Scientific International; and held a number of executive roles during his 11 years at Baxter Healthcare.

Corbett now is focusing on a number of startups, including Israel-based CathWorks Ltd., a medical technology company for which he serves as CEO. CathWorks is working on technology that could have a major impact on the cardiology world.

“The way you measure flow in your coronary artery is done either visually in estimate or with a wire that measures the pressure change in the artery,” he explained. “We’re able to, with software, look at the pictures they take from different angles and process the whole coronary physiology millimeter by millimeter with the flow, and it just will transform how physicians make the diagnostic decision to make a coronary intervention.”

The technology is not far from market, Corbett said. Also on the horizon for the company is a corporate headquarters based in the U.S., bringing working a little closer to home for Corbett, whose career has taken him around the world.

Still, he has a strong attachment to KU.

“Lawrence is a great place to go to school,” he said, adding, “the enduring nature of the friendships has been remarkable.”

Conversations in the C-Suite

Geared toward first-year MBA students in the full-time program, “Conversations in the C-Suite” will feature a monthly presentation by an executive who graduated from KU. Alumnus Jim Corbett worked with Dee Steinle, executive director of MBA and MSB programs, and Melissa Birch, associate professor and co-director of the school’s Center for Global Business Studies, to develop the series. Presentations throughout the year may vary in format, but all will focus on the topic of how to adapt to and take the lead in a changing global business environment.

“We are so fortunate to have Jim Corbett as an active KU alumnus,” Steinle said. “His offer to share lessons learned with our incoming full-time MBAs, and continue with them in a coaching capacity, is a gift beyond measure. I think we have created a series that will continue to bring value to our students over the course of their careers.”

As this year’s featured speaker, he returned to campus as part of the series in November and will deliver the final presentation in April 2019. Other planned speakers during the fall 2018 semester include alumni Jim Schwartz, chairman, CEO and president of NPC International Inc., and Craig Levra, president of outdoor gear retailer Gear Coop LLC and principal at analytics and strategy firm SafeRock Inc.