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For this GEMBA-HLS ’20 student, small lessons add up to make a big difference at work

February 4, 2020

Samira BachouchiThe most profound and significant personal transformations don’t always appear that way at first. The change might happen gradually and appear subtle from the outside.

That’s what happened to Samira Bachouchi (GEMBA-HLS ’20). Since she enrolled in the Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences at the Rotman School, a lot has changed. Earlier this year, she was promoted at Takeda Canada, where she works as a director of medical information and pharmacovigilance. Now, she’s tackling a larger portfolio, managing a bigger team, overseeing a range of therapeutic areas, and working on building the company’s relationships with global partners.

There have been other, more subtle changes too. She’s better able to draw connections between effective business strategies and trends in the life sciences. With projects, she’s more deliberate and confident in her approach.

“It’s hard for me to point to one specific class or moment that led to these changes,” Bachouchi says. “It’s been a series of seemingly small things, like learning about a new business concept in class or taking away a lesson from a career coaching session, that have come together to make a big impact on how I approach my work.”

Focusing on the business side of life sciences

Before arriving at Rotman, Bachouchi was already on a promising career path. By this point, she had amassed over 20 years of experience working at pharmaceutical companies — primarily in medical information and patient safety functions — to complement her academic background in pharmacy and clinical microbiology. Still, she felt something was missing.

“I had the years of training and background, but I sensed that I needed more knowledge in business and management,” she says.

She considered leadership courses and master and doctoral programs but found they didn’t offer the depth in business and life sciences she was seeking. When she learned about the Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences at Rotman, something clicked.

“I wanted to make my leadership journey more concrete and work on shaping my leadership style.”

—Samira Bachouchi, GEMBA-HLS ‘20

In this 18-month program, which is customized for senior-level leaders in healthcare and the life sciences, students study innovations in the industry up close by completing residential modules in Toronto, the San Francisco Bay Area, Singapore and London (UK). These leaders gain a new perspective on driving change, leadership and strategy with guidance from expert faculty and career coaches.

“When I heard about the GEMBA-HLS, I had an aha moment where I thought ‘this is it, this is the program I was looking for.’”

Ready to go beyond the classroom.

For Bachouchi, the personal and professional transformation happened slowly.

With the initial modules, she focused on adjusting to the workload and learning the material, which covered health sector strategy, business ethics and marketing in healthcare.

“There was a turning point in the program, when I knew I was ready to go beyond the lessons taught in the classroom,” she explains. “I wanted to make my leadership journey more concrete and work on shaping my leadership style.”

She started working with a career coach at Rotman, whom she still sees regularly. During their individual sessions, they talked about pragmatic, action-oriented approaches she could apply in the workplace and that would align with her management style.

“One of the big changes I’ve seen in myself is the new way I approach projects,” she says. “In the program, we spent a lot of time discussing ethical business frameworks. It really taught me to consider every proposal from different perspectives. When I do that, I have more confidence in my decision-making, and I know I’m doing the right thing.”

“I knew I was ready to go beyond the lessons taught in the classroom.”

—Samira Bachouchi, GEMBA-HLS ‘20

Other things — like contributing to discussions on a range of business topics, including finance, commercialization and the global economy — started to come more easily.

“Now, I have no hesitation,” she says. “I realize that it’s not about being able to throw out certain buzzwords, but really knowing the key concepts and being able to speak with authority on certain issues.”

While she didn’t think other people noticed these small changes, her company did. They tapped her to take on more initiatives when they saw her potential and the changes the MBA had brought out of her.

“The program moves at an intensely fast pace. You learn so much in the classroom, and also through reflection and by assimilating all the learnings afterwards,” says Bachouchi, who graduates in June 2020.

“Luckily, we still have a few more modules to go. I’m looking forward to seeing what we explore next.”

Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »

Samira Bachouchi

Class year




Current position

Director, Medical Information and Pharmacovigilance
Takeda Canada
Toronto, ON

Previous employment

Previous roles with Altana Pharma, Nycomed, Takeda
Toronto, ON

Previous education

Pharmacy and Clinical Microbiology
Institut Pasteur
Paris, France

Executive MBA
in Healthcare
and the
Life Sciences
Learn more»