A leader in retail pharmacy embraces ambiguity and new opportunities
Kathryn Djordjevic (GEMBA ’17) isn’t afraid of exploring unknown territory.
In her off time, this seasoned traveller has ventured to more than 20 countries and five continents. Professionally, Djordjevic hasn’t shied away from roles or responsibilities that are outside her comfort zone. She began her career as a pharmacist with the retail pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart, eventually going on to become a store owner and subsequently taking on a number of leadership roles within the organization. In recent years, she’s overseen the company’s drug formulary program and developed and implemented its national methadone strategy.
It was while working on these high-profile projects that Djordjevic first began thinking about business school. Looking to complement her clinical knowledge with management expertise, she considered a range of different graduate programs.
“It was exciting to apply a business lens and examine how organizations around the world have had to adapt to disruptions in the global market.”
-Kathryn Djordjevic (GEMBA ’17), Director, Health Innovation & Technology, Shoppers Drug Mart
The Global Executive MBA program at the Rotman School of Management — which takes students across the globe to learn, first hand, about the world’s markets and international business trends — seemed liked a perfect fit. For Djordjevic, it was an ideal way to incorporate her love of travel into a rewarding MBA experience.
“As a traveller and observer, I’ve always had an appreciation of how art, customs and history have shaped different cultures,” she explains. “It was exciting to apply a business lens and examine how organizations around the world have had to adapt to disruptions in the global market.”
The Rotman Experience
When Djordjevic looks back on her last two years at Rotman, her favourite memories tend to involve travelling with her fellow 25 classmates during the program’s six residential learning modules.
“We were spending almost every minute of every day together — learning, traveling, dining,” she describes. “Naturally, we got to know each other quite well. We’ve become a close, supportive community.”
In addition to these memories, Djordjevic will walk away from the program with some important business insights. She and her classmates have travelled to the Middle East and Africa to examine how emerging economics and industries are establishing themselves as players in the global marketplace. And the class studied entrepreneurship in action by touring startups in Silicon Valley.
On many occasions, she’s returned with fresh ideas for work.
“In some cases, the timing worked out perfectly. Around the time we were completing a marketing-focused module in the program, I was just starting a marketing project at work,” she explains. “The class gave me a greater perspective on branding and good starting points for reviewing our customer segments and program opportunities with my colleagues.”
Exploring new horizons
Right now, Djordjevic is taking on uncharted territory again. Shortly after completing her second module with the Global Executive MBA program, Shoppers placed her in a new role, as director of health innovation and technology.
In this role, Djordjevic will be developing strategies for how her organization can integrate technology in promoting their health and wellness initiatives. It’s a new priority area of the company, and like with any new role, there’s a bit of ambiguity as to how this area and her role might evolve. Undeterred, Djordjevic is keeping an open mind and drawing on past experience and lessons from her MBA program.
“I’ve learned to embrace every opportunity. I’d encourage any new student or young professional to just embrace that uncertainty that will come up in your work and life and go along for the ride. Often, you’ll be surprised by the return.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung