Joseph Fleming, PAH’70, MS’71

Joseph Fleming chose to attend Northeastern because the cooperative education program was, to him, "an opportunity to help finance college." Forty years later, the double Husky is a living testament as to why the program is so much more than just a way to help pay for tuition.

Working at Beverly Hospital on all four co-ops, Fleming learned the ins and outs of inpatient and outpatient pharmacy. Manning the hospital's apothecary, he learned the techniques for making different medicines and compounds, and all about responsibility while overseeing the distribution of narcotics.

It was that role that earned him a job at the retail pharmacy Medi-Shack after graduation. "I worked 10 years there and then I worked another 10 years for a large company that acquired us. I woke up one day and said to myself, ‘I'm as smart as the next fellow.  I can do this for myself.'"

So, as it were, the skills Fleming learned at the hospital would help him grow as a pharmacist, but the concepts he took away from his co-op would help him grow his company. He founded Community Rehab Centers in 1993, one of the largest networks of rehabilitation centers in the Northeast, which he sold in 2001.

"Team building and communication are the two essentials I took out of co-op," said Fleming.  "Team is so important - to build everyone and to make sure you have the right people on your team, not just as pharmacists but all through the support staff. Also, learning how to communicate within your department and then throughout the entire hospital was huge."

He took those lessons and, in 2002, Fleming founded Specialty Pharma Inc., a leading biotechnology firm that seeks to simplify the homecare experience for patients, providing both medicines and equipment. Specialty Pharma enjoyed a successful run, and Fleming sold his company to focus on other endeavors.

In 2004, he established the Health Sciences Entrepreneurs (HSE) Roundtable at Northeastern. His idea: bring alumni leaders in the health and biotechnology industries back to campus to network and share with students and new graduates on how to make their entrepreneurial ideas a reality.

Since the inaugural workshop, Fleming has brought in more than 50 alumni leaders from across the country and overseas to offer the wisdom of their experiences to more than 800 students and young alumni. It's just the beginning, said Fleming. 

"It's a great experience," said Fleming. "We've had students tell us that this is one of the best things they've done at Northeastern." For more information about HSE, visit: northeastern.edu/alumni/healthsciences.

Today, Fleming is the founder and chairman of start-up Novus Health, Inc. a Stow, Massachusetts, firm that develops and acquires new health care models. Fleming and his wife Anne, PAH,'71, currently reside in Stow with their two children, Christopher and Kate.