Former Chairman and CEO of Aetna, and
Transformational Business Leadership Expert
A veteran business leader, turn-around expert and advocate for value creation, Ronald A. Williams is the chairman and CEO of RW2 Enterprises, LLC. He is active in private equity as well as a director on corporate, public sector and non-profit boards. The former chairman and CEO of health insurance giant Aetna Inc. devotes his time and energy to helping future leaders with strategy, values-based leadership, public-private partnership and the continued transformation of the health care industry.
Through RW2, Mr. Williams advises senior corporate executives on the development of strategy and on how to achieve transformational leadership grounded in core values, keys to successful board service. He coached 190 executives during 2015, and works with private-sector, public-sector and nonprofit groups to address critical societal needs, including how to transform American health care so that it creates more value for consumers.
Since 2011, Mr. Williams has served as Operating Advisor to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC (CD&R), a private equity firm focused on the health, retail, manufacturing and service sectors with $21 billion in assets under management as of December 2015. He is chairman of CD&R’s portfolio company, agilon health, a health services and technology company aiming to speed physician transition to value-based care. He successfully guided two CD&R portfolio company exits: Envision Healthcare (NYSE:EVHC) and PharMEDium Corporation.
Mr. Williams is a Director of American Express, The Boeing Company, Johnson & Johnson, Envision Healthcare and is a member of Deutsche Bank’s Americas Advisory Board. He was appointed and served on President Obama’s President’s Management Advisory Board from 2011 to 2017, where he worked to bring the best of business practices to the management and operation of the federal government.
At Aetna, Mr. Williams turned a struggling organization into an industry leader, transforming the company’s strategy, culture, operating performance and financial results. When he joined Aetna in 2001, its loss from continuing operations was $292 million, with earnings per share loss of $0.46. Mr. Williams was named President and joined Aetna’s Board in 2002; he became CEO in February 2006 and Chairman in October 2006. In 2011, the year he stepped down as Chairman, Aetna’s full-year operating earnings were $2 billion, with operating earnings per share of $5.17. Revenues were $34 billion, up from $19.9 billion in 2005, and the company was ranked 77th on the FORTUNE 100 list. Market capitalization grew from $4.7 billion in 2001 to $15.3 billion in 2011. During his tenure, Aetna was named FORTUNE’s most admired company in the Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care category for three consecutive years. Under Mr. Williams’ leadership, Aetna sought to make a positive impact on health care in America by serving as catalyst for change, focusing the industry and it’s many participants to transform American health care into a more efficient system that delivers greater value. Aetna pioneered large-scale consumer-directed health plans, including industry-first health reimbursement arrangements and health savings account plans. The company also invested in both studying and publishing the findings from medical claims and utilization patterns from these plans, placing Aetna at the forefront of discussion about health care reform. Aetna was an early advocate in calling for an individual coverage requirement to expand access to health care and was a supporter of mental health parity legislation.
Mr. Williams is a member of the MIT Corporation and is Vice Chairman of The Conference Board. He is a member of the President’s Circle of National Academies, which advises the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine), and the National Research Council. He also serves on the boards of the National Academy Foundation and the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is a member of the Peterson Center on Healthcare Advisory Board, the RAND Health Advisory Board, and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform (CPR). His previous board service includes Save The Children, Vice Chairman of The Business Council, Chairman of the Healthcare Leadership Council, and Chairman of the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare.
In 2013, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an independent, multidisciplinary policy research center founded in 1780, and became a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development, a non-profit, non-partisan, business-led public policy organization.
Prior to Aetna, Mr. Williams was a member of the Office of the Chairman at WellPoint Health Networks Inc. where he served as Group President, and President of the company’s Blue Cross of California subsidiary. Mr. Williams joined WellPoint’s predecessor firm Blue Cross of California in 1987. Previously, Mr. Williams was co-founder of Vista Health Corp. and group marketing executive at Control Data Corp.
Mr. Williams is a graduate of Roosevelt University and holds an M.S. in Management from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“That’s Not Possible… Wait… We Just Did It!” Ron draws on his experience as a leader of Aetna’s billion dollar turnaround to share secrets to unlocking the discretionary energy of the workforce – increasing employee engagement and ultimately corporate profitability.
Value Creation in Health Care
“Real Reform: The Serious, Mature Conversation We Should Be Having about Health Care.” Ron had a front-row seat to the 2010 health care reform debate. He relates how every set of stakeholders – physicians, hospitals, patients, insurers, med-tech companies, and government – can work together to improve patient outcomes, expand access, and increase affordability.
CEO Succession and Transition
The most important decision a board makes is selecting the company’s Chief Executive and ensuring a timely and effective transition. As a Chairman, a Chief Executive Officer, and a current or former director of seven different publicly traded companies, Ron brings an insider perspective to decisions surrounding the way a board executes on its chief responsibility.