Ronald A. Williams is the former Chairman and CEO of Aetna Inc., a leading diversified health care benefits company. He is a director of American Express, Boeing, and Johnson & Johnson, and an advisor to the private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. Mr. Williams is actively engaged in public service and philanthropy. He also appears frequently in the news media.
A veteran business leader and an expert in value creation, Ronald A. Williams, the former CEO of health insurance giant Aetna Inc., is fully engaged in a “Second Act” serving business and society. His post-CEO career is focused on strategy, values-based leadership, public-private partnership and the transformation of the health care industry.
Through his consultancy, RW2 Enterprises LLC, 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 personally coached 124 executives in the course of 2014. He 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. He is an active public speaker and is often quoted in the national and business media, all part of his effort to advance his vision for the health care sector and for leadership in general.
RW2 Enterprises is a central commitment for Mr. Williams but not his only one. He serves as Operating Advisor to Clayton Dubilier & Rice LLC, a private equity firm focused on the health and service sectors with $21 billion in assets under management as of May 2014. He successfully guided CD&R portfolio company Envision Healthcare (NYSE:EVHC), as Lead Director, leading to an exit after 4 years with multiple of investment capital of 5 times. He is Chairman of CD&R portfolio company PharMEDium Corporation.
Mr. Williams serves as a Director of American Express, Boeing Corporation and Johnson & Johnson. He is a member of Deutsche Bank’s Americas Advisory Board. And as a member of the President’s Management Advisory Board, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama, Mr. Williams works 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 (he stepped down as CEO in late 2010), 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, policymakers, physicians and employers on ways to increase access and affordability and to transform American health care into a more efficient system that delivers greater value to all. Aetna pioneered large-scale consumer-directed health plans, including industry-first health reimbursement arrangements and health savings account plans, and pioneered studies of 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’ current commitments extend beyond the private and public sectors to include the nonprofit sector as well. He is a member of the MIT Corporation and the Business Council, and is Vice Chairman of the Conference Board of Trustees. 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 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 January 2010, Mr. Williams co-chaired the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, “A Roadmap for a Sustainable Recovery,” in Davos, Switzerland. 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 joining 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.