The New York Times: Wayne State Alumnus Mark Bertolini of Aetna on Yoga, Meditation and Darth Vader
Not long after joining Aetna, the health insurance giant, Wayne State University alumnus Mark Bertolini almost died. A skiing accident in 2004 left his body broken and his prospects dimmed. He was in his late 40s and considered early retirement. When conventional Western medicine didn’t help him recover, Mr. Bertolini turned to Craniosacral therapy, yoga and meditation. Soon he was back at work, and was made chief executive of the company in 2010. As C.E.O., Mr. Bertolini has distinguished himself with a series of unconventional decisions. He began offering yoga and meditation to employees; raised the minimum wage (from $12 an hour to $16) and improved benefits; decided to move Aetna out of its longtime home of Hartford, Conn.; and agreed to sell the company to CVS in a $69 billion deal that is expected to close soon. A Detroit native, Mr. Bertolini grew up in a working-class family and struggled in school until he discovered accounting. He worked at a succession of health insurance companies before joining Aetna in 2003. Mr. Bertolini started as a Wayne State University student in 1974. "I went into self-study to begin with for pre-med, but I discovered that working full time, going to school full time, and partying full time created a conflict. That’s where I learned Transcendental Meditation. I thought I could use Transcendental Meditation to sleep as few hours as possible a night, and maintain that lifestyle, but it didn’t work out for me. It took me eight years to get through. I flunked out twice. I had a 1.79 grade point average."