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Concentrating on health

Healthcare is under scrutiny – and strain – across the globe as rarely before. Obamacare is facing radical review by the Trump administration and the UK NHS, one of the largest in the world, is creaking under the pressure of heavy admissions and funding issues.

Staff In Busy Lobby Area Of Modern HospitalExcellent leadership in the health arena will be at a premium in coming years as populations increase and people live longer. The Cambridge MBA is one of the few programmes which offers opportunity to focus on health strategy through the MBA ‘Concentrations’ – here we explore what CJBS and this Concentration offers and how two recent graduates benefited from these resources.

Pam Garside, Coach of the Cambridge MBA Health Strategy Concentration, has been in this role for the past five years. She began her professional life in management in the NHS and now works with the Department of Health, NHS organisations, the private sector in the UK and internationally on a wide range of healthcare leadership, governance and strategy issues. She is keen to get across to MBA candidates that healthcare as a sector offers more career opportunity than the roles of doctors, scientists, even pharma and life sciences:

“Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide as people live longer and also live for years with sometimes multiple chronic diseases that would have killed them in former times. It’s a fascinating area to work in – involving ethics, politics, genetics, rationing, access issues, funding and much more. Also, the rise of big data and artificial intelligence is becoming huge in the health sector. Google and Amazon are just some of the major players getting very involved in the data collection and management side of health, so there are stimulating new roles emerging from that. In the future, more of the national budget will be spent on healthcare and the pace of innovations emerging from it will increase. The opportunities are huge.”

While MBA students taking the Health Strategy Concentration explore the common issues which affect many countries in grappling with their health provision, Pam feels the UK context is especially valuable for Cambridge students:

“It’s an advantage to be studying this within the context of this iconic NHS, which is the third largest employer in the world. It’s not only a terrific showcase but it offers opportunities to do really interesting projects and get access to great speakers. Candidates hear from speakers of the calibre of former UK Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell, and Mark Britnell – Chairman and Partner of the Global Health Practice at KPMG.”

As Co-Chair of the Cambridge Health Network, Pam herself is a major resource for candidates, offering access to her unrivalled network, and generous advice and support in seeking employment. There is also research focus on healthcare at CJBS through the Cambridge Centre for Health Leadership and Enterprise. The Centre brings together the intellectual resources and expertise of Cambridge Judge Business School and the wider University to address the challenge of effective management in health-related organisations and industries. Cambridge MBAs can tap into significant research and expertise in the field.

Aditya Nigudhar (Cambridge MBA 2015) is from a healthcare background – his 25-year-old family company supplies healthcare products to hospitals across India. Aditya specifically applied for the Cambridge MBA because it offers this health concentration. His original plan was to apply what he learned to expand the family business – and that remains a key goal. But while at Cambridge, he was also bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and now divides his time between India and, thanks to an entrepreneur visa a UK based start-up offering a new product to the food and beverage industry.

The deep insight into the UK NHS is something he feels is an invaluable feature of the concentration:

“It gives people who don’t have a background in health a great overview of the healthcare industry in general and the UK NHS in particular. The final Concentration Project allows candidates to research the UK market, so it is a great way to understand it before you go for a role in big pharma, biotech or any other area within health. One of the great benefits is the superb network you get access to through Pam. She is very well connected and can help students make connections with mentors and potential employers.”

The Concentration project also gives candidates the chance to network and get noticed in the industry. Nigudhar was part of a team of three that researched a product, created a business presentation and pitched it to a panel which included professionals from the NHS and a venture capitalist.

Ranjini Mathew is another alumna (Cambridge MBA 2010), who came to the MBA from consulting and took a role as the Medical Directorate Manager at Papworth Hospital after completing her MBA. Not from any allied health background, she leveraged her MBA experience, working on a final project to deliver recommendations to improve cardiac theatre efficiency at Papworth, which led to a job offer.

Mathew says: “I initially had doubts about my suitability for this sector, but the skills I need here are about assessing data and looking strategically at the big picture. If you can see that something is not logical, can step back, examine how processes work and formulate better methods, you can make an extremely valuable contribution.”

Both Anditya and Ranjini have benefited from the specialism that Concentrations offer, and demonstrate that there is a need for managers with an understanding of strategy and governance. And the Health Strategy Concentration on the Cambridge MBA in is a position to create leaders who can provide it.