Phong Nguyen

Executive Vice President and General Manager for Solutions and Growth, Accolade, Inc.

Whether it’s building a startup after graduation or tackling the toughest roles within larger companies, I learned to take chances on things I’m passionate about.

The Journey

Phong Nguyen T’00 came to the United States as a refugee at age three. Watching his father, who had been a senior military officer in South Vietnam, work in a factory and moonlight as a farm laborer gave him a keen appreciation for perseverance and opportunity.

Nguyen worked in banking before coming to Tuck, where he forged lasting friendships, built a network (every job he’s held since Tuck has come through a connection he made there) and gained a particular type of confidence. “Whether it’s building a startup after graduation or tackling the toughest roles within larger companies, I learned to take chances on things I’m passionate about,” he says. The philosophy bore fruit: Nguyen became an executive in a publicly traded company at forty—the same age, he reflects, “when my parents had to throw away everything and run for our lives.”

The Calling

Nguyen was in mid-career when he made the switch to health care. His daughter was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease requiring aggressive treatment. “I remember the doctor coming to us and saying, ‘We want you to consider chemo,’” Nguyen says. “I asked when do we have to decide, and he said, ‘Today would be great.’”

The Nguyens went forward with the treatment and their daughter improved, but the experience left them deeply shaken. “I remember going through that process and realizing that the health care system is so broken and opaque,” Nguyen says. “If someone with the education and resources I have can’t get the information to make a decision, you can only imagine how daunting it is for people who have financial, educational or social barriers.”

Looking Ahead

Nguyen made the leap to health care with Accolade, a provider of personalized health and benefits solutions to employees and their families. The company aims to disrupt the health care industry by bridging the information gap, which Nguyen sees as one of the biggest and most persistent challenges now confronting the health care industry.

2020 has been a big year for Accolade—new challenges (COVID-19) and new opportunities (the company went public in July) along with the continuing need for a health care system that enables people to get the care they need, ensures Accolade is not slowing down.

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