At only 26 years of age, María Cordón (MBA 1994), had to take the helm at the Quirón Hospital Group, founded by her father, and was able to transmit a feeling of security, optimism, and a  fighting spirit. It is no coincidence that her philosophy of life is “Every cloud has a silver lining”. And if that isn´t clear enough, she adds: “Your can always survive as long as you can take any blows that come your way, however hard they may be, and remain on your feet.”

Following her learning experience at IE Business School, María Cordón, CEO of the Quirón Group, transformed a company in difficulties into a group at the vanguard of technology and a leader in Spain’s private hospital sector. She remembers that in order to achieve this she needed a great deal of effort and work. “You have to make the right decisions, be flexible in carrying them into effect, and get the right team to help you do it. It is a question of a triumph of will over circumstances,” says Cordón.

As a doctor with a Master’s degree in hospital management and MBA of IE, you always speak as if you were bound to be an entrepreneur from birth. What advice would you give all those people who want to be an entrepreneur and need to dedicate all their vocation to a successful initiative?

My advice would be to make sure their ideas are clear, to be very patient and good-humored, and to have lots of stamina. Things can be achieved, but a lot of effort and work is required. You have to make the right decisions, be flexible when implementing them and find the right team to help you. There’s no magic formula; it is the triumph of will over circumstance.

Where or how did you find enough strength as a young woman –who had just finished medicine and was two weeks from finishing the MBA at IE- to stand up to the real challenge of taking over the Quirón group at the age of 26, and after the disappearance of your father, Publio Cordón – which overturned your company and forced you to take charge in very difficult circumstances?

Strength is found in determination, willpower and in the most absolute despair of knowing that there is only one road and it is uphill. Sometimes, when things get difficult, even though it might seem strange, it can be a good thing because you don´t have a choice: you simply fight.

Despite your leadership in the private hospital sector in Spain, you always insist that you are not in the battle for being leaders in Spain in terms of size, but rather the best in terms of quality. What are the premises you need to achieve that aim?

The basic premises are a vocation for a job well done, empathy with patients, satisfaction with the result of seeing the person who trusted in us get their health back, and the desire to carry on doing such good work over the coming generations.

To what extent can the ageing of the population and chronic pathologies affect the effectiveness and productivity of a private health system?

The effectiveness and productivity of a private management system do not depend on the type of patient or pathology; the fundamental aspect of good management is to anticipate your customers’ needs in a flexible, quick and efficient way. The health world is constantly changing: new treatment techniques appear, together with new materials, new equipment, new formulas… That’s why only those who are able to remain at the fore of investment in technology, attracting know-how and speed in management will be able to lead this market.

What are the essentials for efficiently covering the entire population with public and private management?

The key lies in public-private collaboration. It has been on the table for many years, but no real long-term agreement has been reached with the state to allow universal access and the equanimity of the system. Circumstances will almost certainly force this collaboration and it will be positive for all concerned.

Given the general economic situation, do you think the dimension that is being attained by private medicine might highlight the distance from the constitutional guarantee of public care?

Care for any citizen requiring the service is not in doubt; what is in doubt is the financing of the system, but fortunately there is a private alternative that can cover all the investment and service requirements at a lower price than that at which the public institution is providing the service. Everyone wins: citizens receive perfect care, the state would save more than 40%, and private health companies would grow and provide more employment.