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The Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences: helping leaders build stronger health systems

One of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare and life sciences industry right now isn’t actually about health or medicine. It’s a business problem, says Professor Brian Golden, vice-dean of MBA programs and the Sandra Rotman Chair in Health Sector Strategy.

“Healthcare organizations have committed, intelligent leaders, many of whom are trained in the sciences or medicine. Yet so many of these individuals lack the business knowledge that is required to run hospitals or major companies as effectively as we’d like,” he explains.


“Healthcare organizations have committed, intelligent leaders, many of whom are trained in the sciences or medicine. Yet so many of these individuals lack the business knowledge that is required to run hospitals or major companies as effectively as we’d like.”

Brian Golden, Vice-Dean of MBA programs and Academic Co-Director, GEMBA-HLS


Golden hopes that the new Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences (GEMBA-HLS) program will help bridge this gap. The 18-month program, which welcomes its inaugural class in October 2018, will work with mid-to-senior level executives and professionals. These leaders will learn management and business fundamentals and study innovations in healthcare at key healthcare clusters around the world.

“Healthcare is unlike any other industry in that it has such a profound impact on both economic development and human life, and yet it is so poorly managed because of fragmentation within and across healthcare organizations,” says Professor Will Mitchell, the Anthony S. Fell Chair in New Technologies and Commercialization. With Golden, he serves as academic director for the new program at Rotman.

“We’ll be teaching leaders the tools to build a stronger health system that will help people live better.”

Broadening perspectives

With immense pressures for care to become more sustainable, affordable and innovative, today’s healthcare and life sciences executives face incredible demands.

For leaders in this field, maintaining a broad perspective is essential, says Alison Simpson, vice president of strategic planning and commercial operations at Astra Zeneca.


“To truly make advances in healthcare, we need individuals at the helm who understand how the different functions of healthcare operate and how to connect at the interfaces of activities that too commonly operate within silos.”

-Will Mitchell, the Anthony S. Fell Chair in New Technologies and Commercialization and Academic Co-Director, GEMBA-HLS


As a member of the Healthcare and Life Sciences Advisory Board at Rotman, Simpson contributed to the planning and development of the new program.

“I’ve often seen issues repeat themselves in different cities, countries and even across different industries. The more exposure future leaders have to multiple or alternate perspectives, the more durable and successful their solutions will be,” she says.

With this in mind, the GEMBA-HLS class will be visiting various hotspots known for healthcare innovation: from hospitals in Singapore, a country that has developed a unique national health insurance program, to startups in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Meanwhile, within the classroom, students can expect to benefit from the diverse perspectives of their peers.

“The full value chain — vendors, payers and providers — will be in the classroom,” says Mitchell. Each class will be carefully designed to include professionals working in various sectors and types of organizations, including medical devices, pharmaceuticals, consulting, hospitals and government.

“To truly make advances in healthcare, we need individuals at the helm who understand how the different functions of healthcare operate and how to connect at the interfaces of activities that too commonly operate within silos.”

Management training for healthcare leaders

Ultimately, what truly sets the GEMBA-HLS program apart from other health-focused graduate programs will be its strong focus on management.

This is important, given that “the truly sustainable innovations will come from future healthcare leaders who are adept at being both scientifically-minded and commercially-minded,” says Simpson.

Graduates will leave the program with a strong professional network, a global perspective and the full set of MBA competencies and leadership skills to tackle any business problem.

“At the heart of it, we want to create the opportunity for our graduates to change health systems. From getting products to market, to enhancing healthcare delivery, to working more effectively across the public and private divide,” says Golden.

“We’re going to look to our graduates to make better health systems.”


Written by Rebecca Cheung

Introducing Rotman's Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences

Toronto - Singapore - San Francisco; Introducing the 18-month Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences

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