This group of global healthcare leaders have dusted off their passports.
In early March 2022, the soon-to-graduates in the Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences (GEMBA-HLS) program spent a week in London, England for an immersive learning experience.
The group met with national healthcare experts, including National Health Service (NHS) executives, Boots UK’s chief innovation officer and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s most senior health advisor. It was also a chance for participants from different provinces and countries to connect again with each other in person, sharing personal insights and global perspectives.
“The GEMBA-HLS program is designed for health professionals from around the world. It remains flexible and works well for busy schedules,” says Prof. Brian Golden, the academic director of the Rotman School’s GEMBA-HLS program and the Sandra Rotman Centre for Health Sector Strategy.
“From change management and international business to data analytics and strategy, all the MBA fundamentals are taught with a global healthcare lens.”
The 18-month program weaves together thought leadership, practical education and hands-on experience. Participants from around the world take part in six modules spanning the San Francisco Bay Area, Toronto, Singapore and London. In between in-person group modules every few months, learners complete self-paced learning that can be completed from anywhere.
Three participants from different areas of healthcare — a physician, a digital health lead and a project consultant for children's hospitals — share reflections from their recent trip to London.
Dr. Greg Manning
Cardiac Anesthesiologist and Cardiac Surgical Critical Care Physician, University of Ottawa Heart Institute
After five years as a staff physician in St. John’s and Ottawa, Dr. Greg Manning (GEMBA-HLS ’22) was eager to explore paths in healthcare beyond clinical medicine.
Combining his medical training, his drive to lead and a willingness to take risk, his goal is to help improve healthcare delivery for the masses using technology.
Dr. Greg Manning (GEMBA-HLS ’22)
“The potential to apply myself in the business and strategy side of healthcare is what excited me about the program. If I want to have an impact on thousands of people beyond the individual patients I see every day, I needed a high-level understanding of healthcare globally,” he says.
In London, Manning and his classmates met with Mark Britnell, an executive-in-residence at Rotman and KPMG UK’s global health expert and vice-chair. After hearing Britnell compare international health systems to one another, Manning said he felt an even greater motivation to do more for the broader system locally, and eventually globally.
"It’s like someone ripped off my blindfold. The GEMBA-HLS program has been an extremely versatile degree that will position me to identify problems in the system and determine how we can improve operations,” he says.
“My thinking early in the program, which was shared by other physician colleagues who I knew joined the program was 'what can you do with an MBA?' This has rapidly evolved to 'what can't I do with it?'”
“The GEMBA-HLS program was pivotal in that transition of thinking."
Also memorable were the rich conversations he had with his classmates and faculty in London and connecting with leaders from the NHS.
“We still have a lot to learn from other systems and one another,” says Manning.
“It was inspiring to be face-to-face with global leaders in healthcare, having frank conversations about their successes and challenges."
Ali Farshchi Tabrizi
Senior Project Manager, SickKids International
After the class sessions wrapped up in London, Ali Farshchi Tabrizi (GEMBA-HLS ’22) got on a plane to India for work.
He currently leads a team at SickKids International, consulting a partner organization in India on a multi-year project to build a 130-bed children's hospital near Mumbai.
Ali Farshchi Tabrizi (GEMBA-HLS ’22)
With more than a decade of experience managing projects and operations in healthcare, clinical research and pharmacies, the role came at a perfect time in Farshchi Tabrizi’s career. He made the switch during the GEMBA-HLS program through a connection he made at a networking event at the Rotman School.
“After the first module in the program, I knew I wanted to change my career. I stayed very active during the coffee chat networking sessions, and it landed me here,” he says.
What he gained through the GEMBA-HLS program — particularly international business and business operations skills — are critical for his current project.
“I learned how to assess and tailor solutions based on the needs of the community — the culture, people, infrastructure and access to resources,” he says, noting that he’s using process improvement methods from class to decrease wait times in the hospital.
Through global modules like the London trip, Farshchi Tabrizi says it’s eye-opening to learn about more healthcare systems outside of North America.
“You realize that no healthcare system is perfect, and that every system has its own challenges,” he says.
“If you want to make an impact in the healthcare system wherever you are in the world, the experience and exposure you get through the GEMBA-HLS program is going to elevate you in whatever you choose to do after the program.”
Global Head of Digital Health Partnerships, Living Goods
For Mohini Bhavsar (GEMBA-HLS ’22), much of her career has been spent working with organizations and ministries of health in West and Francophone Africa, such as Senegal, Burkina Faso and Madagascar. There she helped to scale cost-effective digital solutions to community health workers and support governments in executing national digital health strategies.
After building a large professional network in Africa, she relocated back to the Greater Toronto Area in 2020 and looked for a way to bridge her knowledge of digital health ecosystems in both regions.
Mohini Bhavsar (GEMBA-HLS ’22)
“I’ve learned so much about the digital landscape in North America through the GEMBA-HLS program, and it’s been great to bring those lessons back into my work in low and middle-income markets,” she says.
“Our system can also learn and benefit from digital health innovations in Africa, which I try to highlight in classroom discussions.”
Bhavsar began the GEMBA-HLS program and her current role at Living Goods around the same time, just as the organization was looking to shift its long-term strategy. Living Goods is a high-impact nonprofit that enables community health programs in African countries to save more lives using technology.
She says the courses — particularly Prof. Brian Golden’s course on change management, Prof. Zayna Khayat’s course on healthcare innovation and Prof. Joe Milner’s course on business operations — came at an ideal time.
Right away, Bhavsar helped set up structures and systems within the digital health team that didn’t exist before. She also started conversations about how the team can work more effectively with other global support functions in the organization.
“These changes help to build transparency, accountability and ownership within the teams, which ultimately leads to a stronger organization that can continue to have great impact on the ground in a more sustainable way,” she adds.
Bhavsar says the leadership insights she heard during global modules has been some of the most valuable moments of the program.
“Hearing the stories of senior leadership from corporations, healthcare providers and ministries of health around the world has been incredibly inspiring, and I often think back to candid interactions and the helpful guidance shared by leaders we meet,” she says.
“Meeting these leaders face-to-face is my top motivator for going on-site for the global modules like London.”
Bhavsar is also involved with the Creative Destruction Lab. As part of the CDL Advanced course, she has teamed up with Memotext CEO Amos Adler on his new venture, A4i, a digital health startup in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. They’re developing a platform to support the recovery process for people with schizophrenia and psychosis.
Bringing what she’s learned in the GEMBA-HLS and CDL programs, Bhavsar supports the founder with customer discovery, market sizing and commercialization strategy.
Written by Jessie Park | More Student Stories »