Alumnus Pete Stoy finds President Ping's 'truth and meaning' in healthcare executive leadership
Alumnus Pete Stoy came to Ohio University thinking he was preparing for law school. Instead, he turned his philosophy degree into a career in healthcare executive leadership, where the ethics and ethos that originally led him toward law have been put to use as a relentless customer and patient advocate.
Stoy currently serves as president and chief operating officer at Hanger, Inc., a leading provider of orthotic and prosthetic (O&P) patient care services and solutions, and effective May 1, 2023, he’ll be named chief executive officer of the organization.
Rooted in 160 years of clinical excellence and innovation, Hanger is a purpose-driven company with a vision to lead the O&P markets by providing superior patient care, outcomes, services and value, aimed at empowering human potential.
Former Ohio University President Charles Ping, a passionate advocate of the humanities, would not be surprised to find his former student rising to the top in the business world.
“I had the great opportunity to take a course taught by President Charles Ping. I remember how profound I thought his perspective was in class one spring afternoon just prior to graduation, when the class of mostly seniors was talking about an academic pursuit versus the ‘real world.’ He commented there is nothing more ‘real’ than pursuing truth and meaning, and to keep that as a compass as we moved on to other pursuits no matter what they might be,” Stoy recalled.
From philosophy to finance
"I left my undergrad studies at Ohio University believing a traditional career path through law school was most likely, but I soon found that business and ultimately healthcare leadership was where my passion and skills best combined," said Stoy.
Not long after graduating in 1996 with a B.A. in Philosophy from the College of Arts and Sciences, Stoy earned an MBA and began a career in finance. That led to his first move into healthcare, as a finance manager with Cardinal Health. His 20-plus years in healthcare included leading the $25 billion U.S. Pharmaceutical Health Systems Segment at McKesson and running healthcare operations on the East Coast for Sodexo.
In his current role at Hanger, Stoy has strategic and operating responsibility for both the patient care and products and services business segments. In addition, he has oversight for supply chain, commercial operations, communications, and mergers and acquisitions.
"My philosophy education prepared me to be successful and fulfilled at almost every turn in my career journey. My studies prepared me to think critically through complex challenges, look at situations through a broad lens, and ultimately act with a solid moral compass," Stoy said.
"Diversity of thought and experiences are needed to solve today’s broad healthcare challenges of access, inequity, economics and innovation, and my background in philosophy has served me well to that end," he said.
A leader of leaders
Stoy said his greatest career achievement so far isn't a single event or milestone, but rather his ability to both lead teams and mentor other leaders.
"I am most proud of my success in leadership development. I was lucky enough to have two very influential leaders take an interest in my career at an early stage. These mentors opened doors for me and took chances in giving me responsibilities above my experience level to grow my professional skills and confidence. That has stuck with me, and I make a point to pay that forward when I believe in highly talented individuals who work on my teams," Stoy said.
"I am proud to have contributed to the development of multiple highly accomplished leaders including a couple of Bobcats at Cardinal Health," Stoy said. "Ultimately, I’d like to think my legacy efforts created an environment and culture that helped people grow their careers and create high-performing teams."
In recognition of Stoy's leadership, he has been designated as a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE).
Stoy has also been helping Bobcats in OHIO’s Philosophy Department, including crucial support for department research.
“Most recently, because of Pete's generosity, the department was able to support one of our M.A. students, Ashley Labodda, who participated in the 15th Annual Rocky Mountain Ethics Conference in Denver, CO, in July 2022, where she presented her research on ‘The Relevance of Reason and Desire in the Moral Motivation for Altruism.’ She returned from the conference energized and with a deepened confidence in her abilities as a professional philosopher. Pete's support was crucial to making that possible,” said James Petrik, professor and chair of philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“On a more personal note, my contacting Pete to thank him for his generosity was the occasion of our starting up a correspondence and my learning how much he appreciated his time studying philosophy at OU and how his studies shaped his career. The long-term effects of higher education are often hidden from faculty. It has, thus, been deeply gratifying to get to know another alum who has used his philosophy education to chart a truly remarkable level of professional accomplishment,” Petrik said.
What made Stoy step away from graduate school and toward a "real world" where Dr. Ping assured him he would still need to contemplate truth and meaning?
Q&A with Pete Stoy
Q: What path did you follow to get where you are today?
A: I am a firm believer that the more challenging the path, the more rewarding the journey. I left OHIO believing that law school was the path that I would follow. I was accepted into a law program but made a determination to go a different route and began working instead.
I found that I really enjoyed strategy and leadership and ultimately pursued an MBA rather than law school, which I was certain at one point was my career path.
Over the course of my 25-year career, I have had so many rich experiences. I was always open for a challenge and accepted a variety of opportunities that took me from Ohio to Florida to South Carolina, Texas and California. Saying yes to opportunity when it knocks, and being okay not being comfortable, has helped me grow professionally and given me perspective I’d otherwise not have gained.
Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”?
A: At the beginning of my senior year I had a great realization that there were so many experiences ahead of me. I started to research post-grad programs and cities that I could explore and live in. That was the first time that I really understood how much control we have over our journey if we aren’t afraid of change. The excitement and empowerment that comes from knowing one journey was ending in Athens but another greater one was beginning was a real ah-ha.
Q: What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?
A: The hardest hill during my undergraduate studies I would probably say was making that transition from your hometown, high school friends and family to a new world on your own. I am blessed to have a great family and friends who supported me during my time at OHIO.
Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?
A: I met my wife (Arlyn Stoy BSS '96) of almost 25 years at OU and have many fond memories of our “standing date” of going out for lunch at The Pub. I also vividly remember meeting my freshman year roommate (Dana Randall BA '96) for the first time in James Hall as wide-eyed freshman having no idea the adventures we’d have, becoming fast and best friends to this day.
Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?
A: Take time and enjoy the little things which add up to make the whole Athens experience. College Green on a beautiful spring day, catching a local band, late night pizza or Burrito Buggy, hiking in Hocking Hills, and road trips with friends all still rate as some of my best memories.
Connect with Peter Stoy on LinkedIn.
Editor's Note: Read more about OHIO's leadership in health education.