Planning a Conference, Hurricane Sandy, and Getting by with a Little Help from Some Friends
By Rebecca Kaufman ’13
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 9:15am

As a current student and one of the co-chairs of the 2012 Columbia Business School Healthcare Conference, I have spent the last several months working with amazing individuals to plan the 9th annual conference. The conference is hosted by the Health Care Industry Association (HCIA), a Columbia student organization. The conference featured two keynote speakers, approximately 40 panelists, and 20 sponsor companies. The event drew over 500 attendees from across the country including Columbia students, faculty, alumni, and professionals.

So, what goes into planning a conference? A lot of time management, creative brain storming, pavement pounding, phone calls, and fundraising. As the co-chair in charge of marketing and materials, my work started with brainstorming sessions in March. Given the current state of the healthcare system, the conference co-chairs, along with Professor Cliff Cramer, Director of the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program (HPM), and Lorraine Marchand, Associate Director, developed the conference theme:  “Catalysts of Change in a Fractured Healthcare System.”

Throughout the summer I worked closely with a graphic designer to develop a new brand for the event and developed a communication timeline with my marketing team. By the end of the summer, Cliff Cramer and Vi, the Co-Chair in Charge of Panels and Speakers, had secured over 75% of the speakers! Cliff and our sponsorship managers Kate and Andrew were also hard at work raising sponsorship funds. An event like this costs a lot of money and securing enough funding to make everything happen is key. As our work continued into the fall, Christina, the co-chair in charge of Logistics and also the most organized and detail-oriented person I know (and there are a lot of those at Columbia) secured all the venue, speaker, and registration details.

Enter Hurricane Sandy. The storm’s unfortunate arrival pushed back our date and required a great deal of last minute rescheduling and adjusting, but ultimately it all worked out wonderfully.

Was it all worth it? The Conference took place on November 30, 2012 and was a huge success. We had an awesome committee of friends, students, and Columbia staff there to help and would never have been able to pull everything together without the guidance and assistance of Cliff and Lorraine. I continue to be amazed and impressed by the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program here at Columbia, and by my incredible classmates. 



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