© Doug Beasley
Profile: Milton Morris '04
grad 'carries the bag' to build science, business skills for
former Northwestern University wide receiver parlayed his
undergraduate science degree into an electrical engineering
doctorate from the University of Michigan before earning a
Kellogg School executive MBA in 2004.
arguably Morris could have used one more academic credential
— an M.D. — during an 18-month stint in the front
lines selling the company's cardiovascular devices technology.
Though he had been with Boston Scientific for five years,
the Ohio native took "a couple steps down the organizational
chart" after graduating from Kellogg so he could learn
the business side of an enterprise whose technical aspects
he already knew. Morris, who joined Boston Scientific in 1996
in its research and technology area, where his responsibilities
included writing algorithms to allow its cardiac devices to
detect arrhythmias, would go on to become the division's director.
But to gain true product and customer knowledge, he became
a field clinical representative.
meant "carrying the bag," he says. The role required
six months of special training and involved sundry responsibilities,
from hauling Boston's gear in and out of hospitals to bringing
also brought him face to face with customers — in the
wore scrubs and a lead jacket," says Morris, 36. "I
didn't scrub in, but I was standing right there, handing our
products to the nurse. It was intense."
experience brought him greater understanding of his firm's
customers — which include physicians, patients and,
less intuitively, the healthcare systems that fund the procedures
that use the company's technology.
economics and marketing of this industry are so different
than consumer goods," he says. "We sell products
to hospitals, but they are being paid for by the healthcare
system. Private payers assume the costs but you're not selling
to them directly."
Morris brings his technical and marketing knowledge together
so his team can help these external clients as well as the
company's sales force. "We can translate and craft technical
messages that the sales force will understand, find acceptable
and then deliver on," he explains.
science and business is something Morris' parents seem to
have prepared him to do: His mother worked at Cleveland Clinic
for 27 years, he says, including as supervisor of its hematology
lab. His father, who died when Morris was 17, was "more
of a mathematician," an accountant who also served as
executive director of various theaters. "They called
him in to turn things around financially," says Morris,
who has two older sisters who also inspired him.
his father's death, Morris says he was determined to excel.
"From that time on, it was up to me to make things happen
for myself," he says. "I've been focused on achievement
dedication brought Morris to the Kellogg School's EMBA program
where he complemented his existing aptitudes with the business
knowledge to help him "perform at a higher level."
was great to design and incorporate these technologies into
devices to help patients, something I had done for a decade,"
says Morris, "but I felt there was a whole other component
to what I was doing that I wanted to learn: the business side."
Kellogg, Morris honed his management skills with EMBA program
offerings, including those that emphasized cross-cultural
negotiations and ethical leadership. He has special respect
for courses taught by Professors Leigh
Thompson and David Messick. Another favorite was
Initiatives in Management that took him and his EMBA peers
was absolutely eye opening," he says. "We gained
a grand vision for where China was headed economically and
Morris spends less time in the operating room, but the Kellogg
graduate's powerful blend of skills means he's ready to tackle
any business challenge, no matter how bloody the competition.