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Meeting challenges in the healthcare sector: How an MBA can help maximize patient value

Meeting challenges in the healthcare sector: How an MBA can help maximize patient value

For a professional working in the healthcare and life sciences industry, the choice to pursue an MBA might at first seem a surprising one.

However, as the pace of change accelerates and the global healthcare and life sciences landscape rapidly evolves, a new type of leader is needed. In order to drive organizational change, these individuals need to have not only the skills they have developed in the sector, but also business management and strategic capabilities, integrative expertise, and knowledge of global best practices.

To develop leaders who could deliver on this scale, the Rotman School developed the Global Executive MBA in Healthcare and Life Sciences (GEMBA-HLS). Designed specifically for working professionals in the sector, the 18-month program immerses students in key healthcare and life sciences clusters from around the world. Students build the expertise needed to reshape organizations and lead healthcare and life sciences innovations internationally.

In a panel discussion about healthcare and life sciences leadership in unprecedented times, GEMBA-HLS students and alumni delved into the reasons they participated in the program and how it has helped them grow professionally and lead change in their organizations.

Participants included:

  • Tara Kessaram, Team Lead, Noncommunicable Diseases and Healthier Populations, World Health Organization, Indonesia, GEMBA-HLS '21
  • Adriaan van Rensburg, Anesthesiologist, Toronto General Hospital (UHN), GEMBA-HLS '22
  • Atif Zia, President, Novocol Pharma, GEMBA-HLS '20

Gaining a broader perspective, on many levels

It’s often stated that healthcare and life sciences are siloed. For example, hospitals, health ministries, and industry don’t necessarily speak the same language and their staff will not have the same skill sets.

A goal of the GEMBA-HLS program is to break down these barriers by bringing together a wide range of participants from the private sector (for example, a biotech startup) and the public sector (for example, a government public health department).

This is reflected on a larger scale throughout Rotman, where the constant interplay of ideas and points of view sparks new ways of approaching problems and illuminates unexpected connections. The people who come to the School share a desire for change - whether that means changing direction, changing traditional thinking, or changing the world. Rotman brings together the right minds, resources, and support systems to ignite breakthrough solutions.

“I’m very much public health focused. The courses challenged my thinking and I enrolled for that very purpose. I have learned several frameworks and approaches from other disciplines, such as those from business design and behavioral economics, which are all highly relevant for public health. What I gained from GEMBA-HLS is a variety of different perspectives and lenses to help me drive success in my role.” – Tara Kessaram

Working together with peers whose roles include clinicians, administrators, industry, government, and those with a science background, GEMBA-HLS candidates gain cross-disciplinary exposure and international perspectives. They develop a better understanding of the entire system, which enables them to make a greater impact in their organizations.

Adriaan van Rensburg pointed out the long-term benefits of the program’s content and structure:

“It’s an integrated program, it's not a bunch of freestyling subjects but rather a program that continues to build, the further I go.”

Developing leadership skills

The leadership development program at Rotman uses a comprehensive model to help students clarify their ambitions and accelerate their professional growth. Each student creates a personal leadership development plan and follows it throughout the program in a process of learning, applying and reflecting.

Atif Zia saw value in the self-reflective component of leadership:

“Even if you're in management, and have many years of experience, we all have gaps in our understanding of ourselves. There's a large component of this program that's related to organizational behavior and personal leadership development. There's a lot of understanding and challenging of who you are and who you want to be. I believe that the leadership aspects are applicable to individuals, whether you're in management or not.” – Atif Zia

And Tara Kessaram identified a key component in her journey towards becoming a more effective leader:

“Classes taken with Prof. Maya Djikic in Rotman’s Self-Development Lab have been extremely helpful for my professional and personal development. What I really appreciate is the depth of content as it encourages you to self-reflect, which I believe is a crucial skill of any leader. It’s a humbling process and helps you better connect with people around you and your team.”

Driving change

An MBA designed for healthcare and the life sciences needs to challenge participants to look at best practices around the world and compare systems, in order to make positive change happen.

Adriaan van Rensburg summed up what this has meant for him:

“The program completely changed the way I ask questions. It made me ask better questions, ones that are critical and which identify the capabilities of everybody and how we seek value for everybody in the value chain. I’m often asking ‘how do we negotiate a value chain with a respectful piece of the pie to everybody?’ If you can achieve that, the whole process becomes easier.”

Ultimately, the GEMBA-HLS program helps prepare candidates for leadership roles and career growth that will put them in a position to affect patient value and make a difference in people’s lives.

“I think that the most important thing is that the GEMBA-HLS helps you gain hard skills that you can apply routinely… I ask myself ‘What aspect of the program can I apply to the present situation? Is there a mental model I can refer to, or a case rooted in an academic study of business? I see myself as the organization leader, a business person, a key decision-maker, and a strategist. Now that I’m done with the program, I’m far more open to experimentation and taking risks. It's all about driving change in the context of value creation.” - Atif Zia

Grounded in world-class thought leadership, the Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences program helps you develop the expertise you need to shape your organization and drive your career on the international stage. And while you explore best practices globally, we’ll guide you through an in-depth assessment of your potential, with the goal of shaping you into a more impactful leader.

Become a powerful leader with the Rotman integrated leadership framework. Learn. Reflect. Apply. Through a cycle of a personal development plan, one-on-one coaching, and experiential learning, develop your strengths and true career potential. 

© Rotman School of ManagementThe Rotman School of Management is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AASCB)