Ryan Hassanein Thrives in the In-House Variety

Assistant General Counsel Ryan Hassanein has evolved in his career to thrive in fast-paced legal environments and foster stronger relationships

Ryan Hassanein was familiar with McKesson Corporation long before he joined its team in 2015. McKesson was a primary client of Hassanein’s at former firm Morrison & Foerster, where he was involved with building out a False Claims Act practice group. The lion’s share of lawsuits brought to him under the False Claims Act fell within the healthcare arena, which led him to garner a wealth of new legal experiences.

ryan hassanein
Ryan Hassanein, Assistant General Counsel, McKesson CorporationPhoto courtesy of McKesson Corporation

“Over time, I developed an expertise in a variety of healthcare regulatory issues that were the predicate violations of the False Claims Act cases that I was handling on behalf of our clients. One of the clients that I did quite a bit of False Claims Act work for was McKesson,” Hassanein explains. In addition to familiarity with the company, Hassanein’s former mentor served as general counsel for McKesson. So, naturally, the transition to McKesson’s in-house team was a seamless one.

When he started at McKesson, Hassanein stepped into a newly designed role. “I was brought in as special counsel for government relations. The role was designed in response to a perceived need for someone in the law department to have visibility into all of the company’s key touch points with the government,” he says.

This position allowed Hassanein to collaborate and partner with different teams that were focused on the different types of interactions that the government had with McKesson.

“I collaborated with the public affairs team on opportunities to advocate for the company on Capitol Hill; I collaborated with our government contracting lawyers to help manage the key government contracts that McKesson has with the federal government; and I collaborated with our litigators on litigation matters, including cases filed by whistleblowers on behalf of the government under the False Claims Act,” Hassanein explains.

Over time, Hassanein’s role evolved, and he now serves as assistant general counsel. In his current role, he manages and sets the strategic direction for key government investigations, as well as serving as the lead lawyer for McKesson’s internal investigations program.

“I also provide regular advice on an array of healthcare regulatory issues and conduct proactive assessments of internal control environments with an eye towards rendering legal advice to our businesses on ways to strengthen and advance those control environments,” Hassanein says of his responsibilities. On top of everything else that he does, he is also focused on maintaining compliance in everything the company does.

To Hassanein, the starting place for an effective compliance program is an understanding of any and all risks that live and breathe within the business. “Because McKesson has so many different types of healthcare businesses within its enterprise, and given how regulated the healthcare sector is, we have a very complex risk profile,” he says.

To ensure that the company is effectively mitigating the multitude of risks that they face every day, Hassanein believes that they must design the compliance program in such a way that it surgically targets each of those risks.

“In my time at McKesson, relational skills have been another tool to add to my toolkit to help the company, my team, and my career.”

“This could include policies, protocols, and other written documentation combined with targeted training directed at specific employees who are exposed to where these risks reside. We partner with the businesses to periodically audit and test internal control environments to ensure that they are operating correctly and mitigating the risks they were designed to mitigate,” he says.

Because of the cross-jurisdictional nature of Hassanein’s compliance efforts at McKesson, there is greater potential for challenges to arise. “McKesson is one company, but it is composed of many different businesses that play a variety of different roles within the healthcare industry. Each one of these businesses is subject to regulatory frameworks imposed by federal and state agencies, and, in some cases, different international jurisdictions. That creates a dizzying array of frameworks, and naturally this leads to a wide variety of issues and challenges,” he concedes.

Hassanein is able to readily and efficiently navigate these problems by fostering strong communications skills and building good relationships—not only with his team but across all businesses in the enterprise.

“These are really critical,” he says of good working relationships. “When I first joined the in-house team at McKesson, I did not appreciate how important it is to foster strong relationships and to build consensus among stakeholders.” Over the course of the last five years, he has developed a stronger understanding and appreciation for taking a team-based approach to problem-solving. “It’s the only way to achieve success in an in-house environment,” he says. “In my time at McKesson, relational skills have been another tool to add to my toolkit to help the company, my team, and my career.”

Ultimately, Hassanein’s role works in conjunction with the company to drive business strategies forward, and he breaks down his love for his work into what he calls “the three V’s”: volume, variety, and velocity.

“Given the sheer number of businesses throughout the enterprise and the fact that my job is enterprise-wide, I receive a high volume of matters to worry about. They vary in subject matter, and they come at me very quickly. One hour I’m thinking about one discreet issue, and the next hour I am totally switching gears to focus on something else,” he explains.

While this aspect of the job might seem stressful and highly pressurized, it’s what Hassanein favors most. “The three V’s are what I love about my job. That’s something that you maybe wouldn’t get in private practice. There’s always something different for me at McKesson,” he says.