The 2015 Women Leaders in Consulting: Patricia Birch


Patricia Birch

Senior Partner, Healthcare and Life Sciences Consulting, Global Practice Leader
Client Service Award

Ask Cognizant’s Patricia Birch what her greatest personal or professional achievement is and she’ll say: “having a client say ‘this has exceeded my expectations’ or words to that effect … one client said just that,” she says. “Another client said, after looking at an analysis I had prepared for them … ‘you must be very happy with that’ and then showcased it in top level executive meetings.”

Birch leads Cognizant’s Healthcare and Life Sciences consulting practices, which serve organizations across the health care ecosystem from pharma and medical device companies to payers, providers and pharmacy benefit managers to public sector organizations.

She has years of hands-on experience managing and executing complex business and IT programs, and has served many of the largest organizations across the industry.

“I really enjoy the variety of situations and people, it makes the day to day so interesting—one has to size up a situation quickly and decide what to recommend doing next,” Birch says. “There is also the constant challenge of reinventing one’s self as times and issues change.”

She has over 25 years of experience in healthcare operations and management consulting including seven years as a C-level operations and information technology executive, 10 years as a consulting managing partner, and seven years as a member of the board of trustees for a large healthcare system.

And what advice would she give to a female consultant just beginning her career?

“Be respectful of all, but at the same time strong and very courageous; do not be fearful. Always do what’s right for your family,” she says.

“The best consulting advice is to operate on a ‘show me, don’t tell me’ basis to avoid surprises. And make sure to draw out the quietest members of a team, they may have best insights, which would otherwise be missed.”

Birch is also a published author and speaker on issues facing the healthcare industry.

In addition, she has worked internationally serving clients in Europe and China and led healthcare practices at other leading healthcare consultancies.

As far as winning the Women Leaders in Consulting award, Birch says “This is the ‘Oscar’ of the Consulting world. After so many years in an industry that I love to work in every day, I am delighted to have received this recognition.”


How did you get into the consulting profession? Was it by design or by accident?

Patricia Birch says: “It was by design, I always wanted to have the opportunity to help organizations solve their most challenging issues. When I learned there are companies dedicated to doing just that, I realized I had found the perfect place to build a career. When our children were young I needed to be home more so I joined a client as the CIO and eventually an operations executive for seven years. This experience significantly informed my advisory work with practical real world executive experience and made me a much better consultant.”