Striving for excellence

Crain’s Chicago Business names Mike Kasper in ‘40 under 40’

Elmhurst resident Mike Kasper credits striving to be decisive for his rise in the medical industry. Kasper, 39, has been the CEO of the DuPage Medical Group in Downers Grove since 2010, an organization with $375 million in annual revenue and 315 doctors serving roughly 350,000 patients.

Crain’s Chicago Business magazine named him one of its “40 under 40” last month.

“Luck always plays a role when things happen early for you,” he said. “That certainly was true in my case. But also I think that really being decisive about how you approach things (is important). When I was in my first few jobs, I often saw people who were indecisive, and struggled with things. As I made it into leadership roles, I took a more decisive approach. I wasn’t always right, but it did create a mechanism for people to respond.”

From northwest Indiana originally, Kasper went to Millikin University in Decatur for undergraduate work and then Indiana University for a masters in health administration.

He first became a CEO at the age of 30 at Coventry Health Care, a health insurance provider in New Orleans. Then Hurricane Katrina hit, and he had to make a tough choice — close up shop like many were suggesting or dig in and invest.

“It was kind of, as you can imagine, an interesting time,” he said. “And when the storm hit the company was contemplating pulling up stakes. Instead, what we did was put together a business plan to get into new lines of business."

The company responded by expanding from only offering group plans, to offering individual plans, and it also expanded geographically. When life came back to the area, the plan paid off, he said.

After another year in Louisiana, Coventry took him to Pennsylvania. He then landed a job at Humana in Chicago, which he held until taking his current post at the DuPage Medical Group.

“My wife and I have always loved Chicago,” he said. “And we always had a desire to be close to family. So when the opportunity arose to come back to the area, we pounced on it.”

He said choosing Elmhurst as the place to raise their family was easy — proximity to the city, a diverse community of both upper-class and working-class families, and good schools.

“We live near Visitation Parish, where we go to church,” he said. “The amenities of Elmhurst itself, it was kind of an easy choice.”