Leaning into Leadership: Interview with Jeff Gourdji 

Jeff Gourdji

Jeff is a Senior Partner at Prophet and recently celebrated his 15th anniversary at the firm. As the founder of Prophet’s Healthcare vertical, he has helped clients both within and outside the healthcare industry drive effective growth strategies. Outside of his impactful work, Jeff has many talents, including playing guitar with his 3 sons as the “The Gourdji Boys Band” in our annual Prophet Rocks talent show. Trust me when I say it’s something everyone in the firm looks forward to. I can personally attest to Jeff’s commitment to his clients and his colleagues, as we worked together (where he was my client!) at Kraft Foods many years ago. I hope you enjoy learning about Jeff as much as I enjoy working with him! 

Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?   

Jeff Gourdji: I founded our healthcare practice and have led it for more than 10 years. People come to me for any type of expertise required to either sell into the healthcare space or help drive growth and transformation for our healthcare clients. I work across the firm to understand our clients, what they are going through and how our experts can help them solve their biggest problems. 

AN: Was healthcare always your specialty?  

JG: My interest in healthcare came from my interest in politics and macroeconomic policy. In college I was president of the University of Michigan College Democrats. The hot topic of the day was healthcare reform that the Clinton administration was pushing. Working with the national political organization, I recruited local policy experts to talk about what was broken in healthcare and what reform was needed to drum up support. I learned a lot and, 16 years later, while at Prophet, the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress.  When clients began coming to us for help with health insurance reform, I raised my hand to work on those projects. Eventually, when healthcare became a burgeoning opportunity for Prophet, I was asked to set up and lead our healthcare vertical. I didn’t set out for this path, but I chose to specialize in healthcare following a personal passion for public policy and the importance of getting health policy right.    

AN: What led you to a career in consulting?    

JG: I started my career at Kraft Foods, and when I think about the throughline from brand management at Kraft to where I am now, it all ties back to my desire for diversity and breadth.  I originally chose brand management because it wasn’t just marketing. It was operations, logistics, demand planning and running the P&L. I was a bit loathe to give that up, but I eventually moved on to be an advisor for a whole range of clients and client businesses because I like the variety that comes with it. Even when picking a specialty, like healthcare, I’m not narrowing my focus because it’s so vast. Within healthcare, there are insurance companies and care providers and life sciences companies. There are so many different aspects of healthcare that I continue to learn today and will tomorrow. As a consultant, you have to love learning about a variety of different topics and industries or parts of an industry. 

AN: What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on? 

JG: This ties in directly to what we were just talking about. I am always learning more about different parts of the healthcare ecosystem, trying to stay current on the issues of the day, like AI, and how transformation can be successful. We should all be working on this, so we can do our jobs better!  

AN: What drains you and gives you energy at work?   

JG: Ironically, the answer to both is being around people. I love the give and take of collaborating, and find my fastest days are those when I am collaborating…but also find myself the most exhausted at the end of those days!  

AN: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had, and what did you learn from it?  

JG: The most tedious job I’ve ever had was the summer before college, working on a lawn crew. It was hot, boring and tedious, but it was a critical lesson. I was punching the clock – taking 15-minute breaks, a timed lunch, and counting the minutes until I went home. I share this story with my kids because I learned that any job that you like doing will go by faster, even if you’re working 13 or 14-hour days, versus a job you don’t love when you’re working 8 hours. If you love the work, the long hours don’t feel so long. 

AN: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?    

JG: I think my natural shyness can come across as distant. I really do love getting to know people…but I need some time to warm up.  

AN: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?    

JG: Joe Biden – why not? What an awesome responsibility he, or any president has, to make critical life-or-death decisions for the country. And while I am not sure I’d want it for more than a day…just one day would be pretty awesome!  

AN: If you had to pick one age to be permanent, which age would you choose?   

JG: My current age is a pretty good one. While I certainly miss being young and carefree without any big responsibilities, I really think it took me almost 50 years to learn who I am, accept it, and appreciate what I do well. And…fortunately, I am still pretty healthy!

Rapid Fire  

  • How are you uncommon? I have a unique combination of determination, discipline, integrity and grit. 
  • Do you have a hidden talent or claim to fame? I have secrets, but I’m not sure I’d call them talents!  
  • What’s your favorite DAY of the year and why? Ironically, Christmas – because I am Jewish. It’s entirely because I love the quiet and serenity that comes when the world slows down around me.  
  • Favorite place in the world? The middle of Tuscany, in a little town called Montepulciano.  
  • What is one thing in business that no one is talking about but should? Creating incentives for accomplishing big-picture goals over the long term. Going beyond goals with time limits, like quarterly numbers and short-term projects.  
  • What charitable initiatives do you support or are you most passionate about? I give to an organization that has a federated approach to funding, so they distribute donations to all areas of the community that need it: education, food security, shelter, mental health, etc.  
  • What’s a wish you have for the future? To meet and watch my grandchildren grow up, in good health until the day I pass.  


“Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may want to add to your leadership toolbox.” – Amanda Nizzere, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer