Luis Rivera (’01, MBA ’06) rose from an entry-level hospital office job to a CFO position at insurance industry giant Aetna. Photo by Elena Olivo.
Luis Rivera (’01, MBA ’06) rose from entry-level hospital office job to a CFO position at Aetna.

[dropcap sid=”dropcap-1446585320″]I[/dropcap]n little more than a decade, Luis Rivera (’01, MBA ’06) has risen from an entry-level hospital office job to a CFO position at insurance industry giant Aetna, where he oversees finances and budgeting for the area’s third-largest insurer, with 2 million members. (Nationally Aetna had $58 billion in revenue in 2014.) The secret to Rivera’s success? “Most positions I’ve pursued involved bigger shoes than the ones I was wearing,” he reveals. “I’ve always sought challenges that stretch me to new limits.”

Rivera’s meteoric rise and industry reputation recently won him accolades from Crain’s New York Business, which included him on its 2015 “40 Under 40” list of young New York City professionals, recognized as the most talented, driven, and dynamic in their fields. Rivera calls the recognition “a great honor, especially when I realized it encompassed all sectors and amazing people from all different backgrounds.”

Rivera fell into the healthcare industry after being referred by his sister-in-law for a position at Mount Sinai Health System, where his business degree and financial aptitude soon had him on the management track. “I built a reputation as someone who could translate financial information for non-finance folks, giving them the data they needed to drive operational change,” Rivera says. Progressive management roles and knowledge gained via his Baruch MBA in healthcare administration culminated in positions with C-suite responsibilities at Sinai, at a privately held medical group, and at North Shore–LIJ Health System. Now, he is excited to embrace the challenges of the insurance side as Aetna’s NY local-market CFO, a position he’s held since 2014.

The native New Yorker also enjoys pushing his boundaries in his active personal life. An avid mountain-bike racer and Ironman triathlete, Rivera recently began taking salsa dance lessons! “People think of finance types as squares who manage behind an Excel spreadsheet, but I enjoy firing off some right-brain synapses as well,” notes the well-rounded CFO.

—Sally Fay