Growing up in Flint, Kevin Conroy was offered the opportunity to experience diversity on a scale most kids in America never get to know. That was all an elemental part of his early years at Civic Park Elementary, and exploring the neighborhoods of the city. Not only did he get the chance to participate in sports at a high level, he met kids from backgrounds as wide as the city limits and beyond.
This exploration informed forays in to the competitive landscape of Flint in the late 1970’s. And that ultimately led him to compete in athletics with and against some of the city's very best in a variety of endeavors. This included the ultra competitive Flint youth soccer leagues alongside Fish while a member of the Flint Heddy Decorators Soccer Club, and then on to his high school career at Flint Carman High School.
From there, he took his estimable academic talents on to Michigan State University, and prepared to take on the world in the same manner he took on and embraced his own youth growing up in Flint and Genesee County.
To say he did so with tremendous success would be to understate the reality by magnitudes of order. Conroy is now the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Exact Sciences. You might not recognize that name, but you will likely recognize the product that his team developed: Cologuard. You've probably seen the walking, talking box on the ubiquitous TV commercials.
If you’re of a certain age you most assuredly have some familiarity with the product. And if you don’t know, understand that it is a vanguard product that is the very first medical device or diagnostic to receive simultaneous FDA approval and national Medicare coverage. Since that approval in 2014, millions of Americans have used Cologuard to screen for colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of death in the United States.
That’s an incredible achievement and legacy, and one that was propelled forward with maximum velocity when Conroy became CEO in 2009. His tight knit team transformed Exact Science in to the premier world class cancer diagnostic company it is now, with more than 6500 employees worldwide.
The early detection of cancer has been a major driving force and passion in Conroy’s executive and leadership career. Before taking over at Exact Sciences he was CEO and President of Third Wave Technologies, a molecular diagnostics company that developed a breakthrough cervical cancer screening test before being acquired by Hologic in 2008.
In many ways Conroy is like several super successful business stars from Flint. He’s surely reminiscent of William C. “Billy” Durant who saw a problem with transportation and created a solution first with carriages and then with automobiles by creating General Motors, Chevrolet, and reinventing Buick. Durant then did the same thing with keeping food fresh and healthy when he created Frigidaire. Durant was laser-focused on making average people’s lives much better. In many ways large and small, so is Kevin Conroy.
Like a true Flintstone he is doing it with focus and grit, and like so many of our cities favorite sons, he remembers where is from and the city and community that helped craft him in to the kind of a man that can leverage his unique gifts and talents to improve our world.
Today he is telling that fascinating and dramatic story with Fish in the Aquarium on “Fish and The Flint Chronicles!”
Originally aired on 6/15/2022
You can also visit this episode at Fish's website: http://www.flintchronicles.com/