The Wharton School Wharton EMBA
About the Wharton Executive MBA (EMBA) Blog

Welcome to the blog for the Wharton MBA Program for Executives! Postings to the blog features stories of the student experience, alumni accomplishments, and insights into the admissions process.

Wharton EMBA RSSSubscribe to the Wharton EMBA Blog RSS feed

Connect with Us on...

FaceBook twitter You Tube

Learn More!
» Attend an Event
» Request More Info
» Compare EMBA vs. MBA

Wharton EMBA Philadelphia
Wharton EMBA San Francisco

Wharton EMBA Blog
Self-Sponsored Doctor Uses Degree to Make Impact on Emergency Medicine
September 9, 2012

When Dr. Craig Gronczewski applied to Wharton’s EMBA program, he was a clinical physician caring for patients in emergency departments. While seeing patients every day was fulfilling, he was becoming increasingly interested in working on the business side of healthcare.

“Traditional physician training doesn’t prepare doctors to manage the business side of medicine, which has become much more complicated in this era of managed care. On top of that, healthcare is probably one of the most regulated industries in the world. The only way to survive is to be efficient in your practice, and to have effective operational and managerial skills,” he explains.

Continue reading "Self-Sponsored Doctor Uses Degree to Make Impact on Emergency Medicine" »

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Alumni News , Financing the Program , Health Care |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton EMBA Alumnus Alex Gorsky Named CEO of Johnson & Johnson
July 15, 2012

Congratulations to alumnus Alex Gorsky for being named CEO of Johnson & Johnson. Alex, who graduated from Wharton’s East Coast EMBA program in 1996, has worked for J&J for almost 15 years, starting his career as a sales representative and advancing through several sales, marketing and management positions until his recent appointment.  He assumed the role of CEO in April 2012.

Continue reading "Wharton EMBA Alumnus Alex Gorsky Named CEO of Johnson & Johnson" »

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Alumni News , EMBA Faculty , Health Care , Leadership , Wharton School News |Permalink |Comments (0)

EMBA Team Takes Top Award in Wharton Business Plan Competition
May 2, 2012

A team of Wharton executive MBA students in Philadelphia was awarded first-place in Wharton’s Business Plan Competition. Second-year classmates Eric Heil, a venture capital associate at Domain Associates in Princeton, N.J., Matt Tanzer, an associate director at Shire Pharmaceuticals in Wayne, Penn., and Mrinal Bhasker, vice president of technology and principal at Audacious Inquiry in Baltimore, Md., won the $30,000 grand prize for their plan for RightCare Solutions.

Continue reading "EMBA Team Takes Top Award in Wharton Business Plan Competition" »

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Program News , EMBA Student Activities , Entrepreneurship , Health Care , Wharton School News |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton’s EMBA Program Helps Doctor Launch New Venture
March 20, 2012

A practicing physician in Seattle, Howard Willson wears many hats. He’s the president of Seattle Emergency Physicians, a physician group at a large hospital system in the Pacific Northwest, and cofounder of 1st Health Systems, a healthcare software company. He’s also a second-year student in Wharton’s Executive MBA program in San Francisco who is developing another startup with a fellow Howard Willson photostudent called MDLens. We asked him to talk about how his education is impacting all of these positions. Here’s what he had to say:

“Emergency departments are inherently chaotic, but some colleagues and I had heard about operational practices – similar to what Toyota had used for years in its factories – that could be applied to systems like an ER. It sounds odd, but they share some similarities to an assembly line: Sick patients come in and, hopefully, healthy patients come out. By implementing those practices, we were able to reduce the wait time for patients by 20%.

“That’s when a light bulb went on that there are business practices that can be applied to healthcare that could make a tremendous difference. I wanted to fill in the gaps in my business knowledge – and there were a lot of those – so I applied to and was accepted into the EMBA program at Wharton | San Francisco.

Continue reading "Wharton’s EMBA Program Helps Doctor Launch New Venture" »

Posted by ExecMBA in California , EMBA Academics , Entrepreneurship , Health Care , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton MBA Alumnus Sumat Ramachandra Named on Most Inspiring People List
October 4, 2011

Congratulations to Sumant Ramachandra, WG’09, who was recently named one of the 100 most inspiring people by Pharma Voice. With an MD and PhD already under his belt, he entered Wharton’s EMBA program to gain a business education and transition from technologist to business leader. We asked Sumant, who is now the chief scientific officer of Hospira Inc. in Lake Forest, Ill., to tell us more about how his Wharton education has impacted his career. Here’s what he had to say:

Continue reading "Wharton MBA Alumnus Sumat Ramachandra Named on Most Inspiring People List" »

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Academics , EMBA Alumni News , Health Care , Leadership , Science |Permalink |Comments (0)

First-Year EMBA Classes are off and Running
July 15, 2011

Welcome to our newest students in Wharton’s EMBA Program! Both the East and West Coast classes are comprised of exceptional students from near and far.

At Wharton | San Francisco, most of the first-year class is based in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco area, however students are also commuting from Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington. The class of 96 students brings an average of 11 years of work experience to the program with nearly 50% holding advanced degrees.

Continue reading "First-Year EMBA Classes are off and Running" »

Posted by ExecMBA in California , Diversity , Entertainment Industry , Executive MBA Admissions , Health Care , Military , Not-for-profit , Public Sector , Wharton l San Francisco , Wharton School News , Wharton Women |Permalink |Comments (0)

Global Consulting Practicum and Healthcare Course in India Expand Horizons for Wharton Executive MBA Student
June 15, 2011

Bruce Crocker, a legal advisor and trustee for the Hillman family in Pittsburgh, applied to Wharton’s MBA for Executives Program in Philadelphia not only to enhance his understanding of the investment landscape, but also because he thought the rigorous academic program would be good for his “60-year-old brain.” So far, he’s gotten a lot more from the program than he originally planned, including a vast knowledge about India’s healthcare system, new friends in India, and first-hand experience as a consultant.

Continue reading "Global Consulting Practicum and Healthcare Course in India Expand Horizons for Wharton Executive MBA Student" »

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Faculty , EMBA Program News , EMBA Student Activities , Health Care , International Activities |Permalink |Comments (0)

From Sponsorship to Electives: Wharton MBA for Executives Webcast Covers it All
February 3, 2011

Registrants from 30 states and 14 countries joined us last week for our first-ever Webcast event.  During the interactive presentation, streamed live from Philadelphia and San Francisco, participants heard from administrators, faculty, students, and alumni.  It was a great opportunity to learn more about Wharton’s MBA Program for Executives.  If you missed it, it’s not too late. You can watch the replay.

The interactive presentation began with Vice Dean Anjani Jain providing an overview of our program.  He was joined by Wharton Professors David Bell, Peggy Bishop Lane, and Witold Henisz who shared their experiences teaching in our program.  Students and alumni on both coasts then discussed the benefits of the Wharton MBA degree and how they handled the challenge of working while they earned it.

Although we covered a lot of topics during the Webcast, you still might have questions. If so, please contact us at either our San Francisco or Philadelphia Office. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!


Posted by ExecMBA in Admissions Chats , Applicants , California , EMBA Academics , EMBA Alumni News , EMBA Faculty , EMBA Program News , EMBA Receptions , EMBA Student Activities , Executive MBA Admissions , Health Care , International Activities , Leadership , Military , Wharton l San Francisco , Wharton School News |Permalink |Comments (0)

Join Us for a Live Webcast: Meet Faculty, Alumni & Staff
January 6, 2011

Meet and interact with Wharton MBA for Executives professors, alumni, students and admissions staff during our first-ever webcast event, streaming live from both Philadelphia & San Francisco.

Thursday, January 20, 2011
7:00-8:00pm EST / 4:00-5:00pm PST

Get a Taste of the Classroom Experience
Live from Philadelphia: Vice Dean Anjani Jain asks faculty about their experience teaching in the program, including current topics from recent classes. 

David Bell, Professor of Marketing
Peggy Bishop Lane, Professor of Accounting
Witold Henisz, Professor of Management 

Meet Admissions Staff
Live from San Francisco:  Vice Dean Anjani Jain introduces members of the Admissions Committee, including Bernadette Birt, COO of Wharton | San Francisco and Cathy Molony, Director of Admissions, Wharton MBA Program for Executives.

Interact with Students and Alumni
Live from both Philadelphia & San Francisco:  Alumni and students share their stories about the benefits, both personal and professional, of the Wharton MBA degree.

The webcast will include forums for posting questions as you watch.  We hope you'll join us!

Posted by ExecMBA in Admissions Chats , Applicants , California , Diversity , EMBA Academics , EMBA Alumni News , EMBA Faculty , EMBA Program News , EMBA Receptions , Entrepreneurship , Executive MBA Admissions , Health Care , International Activities , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)

East and West Coast Students Share Thoughts on Balancing School, Work and Parenthood
July 27, 2010

When Rachel Cervantes was thinking about applying to executive MBA programs, her biggest concern was how she would balance school with her job at Merck outside Philadelphia and two young children.   “I thought about things like if my kids would notice that I was studying all the time and how it would impact our family dynamic.  Life was already pretty hectic and I was thinking about throwing another ball into the mix,” she says.

We asked Rachel Cervantes, who is now director of business development in Merck Vaccines with kids ages 7 and 4, to share some of her experiences as a parent and second-year student in Wharton’s MBA for Executives Program in Philadelphia.  Here’s what she said:

"The first step was talking to other parents who were currently in Wharton’s program to see how they handled everything.  Then it was all about managing expectations starting with my husband since there were some things I might not be able to do around the house that he would either need to take over or we would need to outsource.  And I had to discuss my work schedule with my management because I might have to leave early on a certain day to see my daughter’s recital if I knew I would miss another event on the weekend because of school.

For the kids, I had to make sure there was a core of babysitters and friends in place so that if my husband couldn’t pick up my daughter at cheerleading then someone else would be able to do that.  And of course I had to talk to the kids about how I would try my best to be at their soccer games or help with homework, but that it might not always work out.  They had a lot of questions about why I needed to be in school.  I had a PhD so wasn’t I finished already?  I had to explain that adults are always learning and now I’ll be learning new things that I hadn’t learned before.

That first year was challenging because everyone had to adjust to the new schedule.  But after a while, we got into a rhythm and it’s gotten a lot better.  The girls have been more understanding about it than I expected.  They’ve even come to stay with me on campus a few times, which is nice because for them it’s a vacation in the city.

If you are the parent of young children, this program can be done successfully and happily.  It’s challenging, but definitely not as difficult as I made it out to be and my kids are just fine.  My 7-year-old is actually learning quite a bit about economics since she always wants to know what I’m studying!”

At Wharton | San Francisco, we asked second-year student Maia Hightower, who is a doctor in the Associated Internal Medicine Medical Group in Oakland, CA and whose kids are 2 and 5, to talk about her experiences as a parent in the program as well.  Here’s what she said:

“Before starting the program, I talked to my 5-year-old to tell him I was going back to school.  He was in preschool and thought it was neat that we’d both be in school at the same time.  And the Wharton | San Francisco program makes a great effort to incorporate families so there are a lot of activities for them. Like right after we started the program, we had a family evening with clowns and balloon makers.  Now, my son thinks I get to see clowns at my school all the time and he really wants to go to my school too! 

Last year, things didn’t change too much for the kids because I have a rule where if they are awake, there are no books open.  I study after they go to bed so it’s a lot of late nights.  The thing my kids notice the most is when I’m gone every other weekend.  But they came to campus four times last year to spend the night at the hotel with me, which was great.

Other than fitting it all in, the biggest challenge has been supporting my husband on the weekends when I’m not there, especially because our kids are so small.  I’ve tried to get him more support, like asking my mom to help him out for a few hours or hiring a babysitter on some Saturday mornings.

Overall, it’s gone shockingly well.  We’ve formed a network with other parents in the program and in addition to the school events, we frequently attend their kids’ birthday parties, which are a nice informal opportunity to hang out and create a community bond.

I would definitely recommend the program to other parents and wouldn’t see having young kids as a barrier to going to Wharton.  If anything, the program’s residential format being every other weekend is great for parents.  You only meet on class weekends and then you can go through the material at your own pace even if that means studying at alternate hours like when the kids are sleeping.  It’s a lot of hard work, but the flexible schedule gives you options in terms of how you juggle it all.”

Thanks to Rachel and Maia for sharing their experiences!  We look forward to more fun family events this year!

R Cervantes_Family     M Hightower_Family

Posted by ExecMBA in Diversity , EMBA Program News , EMBA Student Activities , Health Care , Wharton l San Francisco , Wharton Women |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton EMBA Alumna Returns to Campus as Business Plan Competition Judge
June 29, 2010

For Wharton MBA Exec alumna Maxine Gowen, staying connected with the School is very important. Most recently, the founding president and CEO of Trevena, Inc., a privately held pharmaceutical company located in King of Prussia, Pa., came back to the Philadelphia campus as a judge in the final round of Wharton’s Business Plan Competition. We asked her to talk about her interactions with the School and why she stays involved. Here’s what she said:

“Wharton’s Executive MBA program changed the course of my career and therefore my life! I am immensely grateful for that and want to help others have the same experience so I try to stay involved.


Continue reading "Wharton EMBA Alumna Returns to Campus as Business Plan Competition Judge" »

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Alumni News , Entrepreneurship , Health Care , Leadership , Wharton School News , Wharton Women |Permalink |Comments (0)

Engaging Globally: Wharton Holds On-Site Health Care Course in India
March 9, 2010

In early January, Wharton offered its first ever course in India: “Innovation and the Indian Health Care Industry.”  This three-day mini-course, held at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, covered the full range of health care issues in India - hospital management, medical tourism, pharmaceuticals, and more.  Nine executive MBA students attended, joining 21 full-time MBA students, and three undergraduates.  The course was directed by Wharton health care professor Lawton Burns, but lectures were given by eleven executives and leaders in Indian healthcare, many of whom have ongoing ties to Wharton.

Dr. Prasad Kilaru was one of three medical doctors in the EMBA program to take the course.  “From a physician’s standpoint, there was really great information on hospitals, non-profits, pharmaceuticals, and more,” he said. “I also really enjoyed the lectures on medical tourism, including the presentation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”  

Rajani Veeramachaneni, a first-year MBA Exec student who runs her own strategy consulting firm claims it was “one of the best academic courses she has ever taken, as it approached the issue from so many angles.”  Veeramachaneni enjoyed not only the lectures on hospital management and medical tourism but the presentations on cutting-edge technologies, including e-Help, mobile health, and wireless medical technology.   “I was impressed by the low-cost structure of India’s healthcare system,” she said, “from which the U.S. can learn a lot.”

Robert Zwolinski, a second-year EMBA student in San Francisco, took the course with the aim of applying his findings to his current job.  As the Director of Operations of a small pharmaceutical company in the Bay Area, Zwolinski wanted to explore the possibility of outsourcing development work – including formulation development, clinical development, and clinical trials.  “The course provided me an excellent opportunity to find out what I need to send work over there,” he said.  “India is not just a low cost option.  India offers many advantages – the education, talent, and intellectual capacity for specific activities - all of these advantages combine to make India a high quality option that can facilitate speed to market for products in development.”

Aside from its academic insights, the trip provided an important cultural immersion experience for students.  “There is no way you can gain a full appreciation of what it’s like to live and to work and operate in India without going over there,” said Zwolinski, who traveled to India for this first time.

Posted by ExecMBA in Diversity , EMBA Academics , EMBA Faculty , EMBA Program News , EMBA Student Activities , Entrepreneurship , Health Care , International Activities , Science , Wharton l San Francisco , Wharton School News |Permalink |Comments (0)

Making an Impact: Wharton EMBA Students Share Highlights of Global Consulting Practicum Trip to Botswana
January 26, 2010

In her first year in Wharton’s EMBA Program, Sarah Sullivan, a program analyst at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC, heard about the social impact projects in Wharton’s Global Consulting Practicum (GCP). They sounded like a good fit with her growing interest in social enterprises in developing countries, but she wanted to finish her core courses before signing up.

So after completing her first year courses as well as an independent study over the summer for a small beeswax producing company in Cameroon, she and five EMBA classmates signed up for the GCP. The course typically pairs teams of Wharton full-time and executive MBA students and faculty with teams from partner universities in countries such as China, India, Peru, and Israel to consult with a client company interested in entering or expanding its position in the U.S. market. However, their social impact project was a bit unique in that it involved working with a partnership between the University of Pennsylvania, government of Botswana, and the University of Botswana to build capacity in Botswana in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Having recently returned from a visit to Botswana for the GCP project, we asked Sullivan and her teammate William “Willy” McColgan to share some of the highlights of their trip with us. Here’s what Sullivan had to say:

“Since we left at the end of December, everything was still closed for the holidays in Botswana so we spent the first four days in South Africa and went on safari. It was a great opportunity to get to know my classmates even better and build a stronger foundation for our group.

When we went to Gaborone, Botswana, we first met the University of Botswana business students who were working with us on the project to hammer out our goals and what we would be doing for our client. We then met with a lot of people in Gaborone – doctors, people from the Center for Disease Control, the Ministry of Health, and a few business leaders and citizens. We even got a tour of the capital and a neighboring village, which was a chance to see more of the country and get a better feel for the culture.

We were blown away by how developed Botswana is compared to many other African countries. Yet despite their development and healthcare infrastructure, it has the highest prevalence of HIV with 25% of the population infected. There is not enough capacity in terms of beds, space, medicine, and number of hours with doctors and staff. Seeing that was really hard. And it made coordinating the work really challenging because you could spend hours on this fascinating project.

While there, we did identify a lot of issues that the partnership is facing. We’ll now conduct more research on the partnership and what needs to be done to sustain its funding with a long-term strategy. Our goal is to have specific recommendations in place by May.

This experience has confirmed my interest in doing business development and strategic planning for social enterprises in developing countries in the future. It also made me realize what an incredible opportunity I’ve had at Wharton that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve travelled to new places, met a lot of great people, seen other organizations in different environments, and gotten a world view of society. This was a capstone experience for me!”

McColgan agrees that the GCP trip was a wonderful experience. Here’s what he said about the project:
“When I first heard about the GCP’s social impact projects, I thought that no matter what else I do in the EMBA program, this is something I would look back on years from now and say it was really worthwhile and made an impact.

Once we arrived in Botswana, we headed straight over the border into South Africa for a safari to get adjusted to the time difference and prepare for the week ahead. What I remember the most from those days was getting stuck in the mud as it started to get dark and imagining all the things moving around you as well as a toga party on the game reserve on New Year’s Eve.

When we got to Botswana, we spent a lot of time planning and discussing our project and meeting with hospital staff, government representatives, and our University of Botswana counterparts. Later in the week, we went on the medical wards and met with residents from Penn’s Medical School as well as a Penn School of Nursing faculty member doing research on sabbatical. The University of Pennsylvania has certainly made an impact in Botswana. Hopefully our Wharton EMBA GCP team can help this continue.

This will definitely be a highlight of my time at Wharton. And I certainly strengthened my relationships with my classmates during that time, which is lasting. We’ll always have Africa!”

Many thanks to Sarah and Willy for sharing their GCP experiences. Learn more about the GCP.

Related blog: Wharton's Global Consulting Practicum EMBA Students Build International Teams While Working and Having Fun

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Academics , EMBA Program News , EMBA Student Activities , Entrepreneurship , Health Care , International Activities , Leadership , Not-for-profit , Public Sector , Science |Permalink |Comments (0)

Making an Impact: Wharton EMBA Alumnus Talks about Using Degree to Improve Healthcare in India
December 15, 2009

Chris Dickey had a Doctorate in Public Health, but his job as general manager of a health services company in Manhattan wasn’t fulfilling his goal of making a real impact on a large number of people’s lives. To change that, he enrolled in Wharton’s MBA for Executives Program in 2006 where he seized the opportunity to brainstorm with classmates whenever he could about possible business plans. Soon after he graduated, he and a partner had a plan in place to create Healthpoint Services, a market-based approach to meeting the health needs of consumers at the base of the economic pyramid. In addition to providing clean water, the business also provides medical clinics in remote villages that connect patients to doctors via videoconferencing technology and remote diagnostics.

It’s been about 18 months since he graduated so we asked Chris to share some of the highlights of his unique entrepreneurial experiences with us. In addition to sending us a video video from a recent trip to India, here’s what he had to say:

“Poor people in the developing world typically don’t have access to clean water and affordable, high-quality health care. We set out to change that through a village-based unit called a Healthpoint that combines a Reverse Osmosis plant attached to a raw water source with the latest in telemedicine technology, approved drugs, and 65 diagnostic tests (and counting) that cover a range of common illnesses.

My partner, Allen Hammond, and I are convinced that we are among the pioneers of this new market-based approach to meeting the health needs of this vast group of consumers making and spending less than about $3 per day. We believe that a commercial venture focused on delivering high-quality care at an affordable price will create efficiencies, economies of scale, and a profitable, scalable company that will transform health outcomes for millions of people.

We officially launched the first three Healthpoints in India last October to some fanfare – both the Punjab Governor and Finance Minister were there as well as the national media. The politicians were so impressed with the operation that they asked us to build 600 more units in the next three years!

I recently returned from a visit to the Healthpoints, which are in Mallan, Doda, and Kotbhai, and also to our new call center based in Bathinda. I’m delighted to say that the units are all thriving, even after such a short time. The waiting rooms are full, people are lining up with 20 liter jugs to purchase clean water, and the staff is thrilled to be part of a revolutionary effort to provide access to health care for rural villagers.

During that trip, I watched a follow-up visit to the Healthpoint in Mallan by a woman who had been treated by us for joint pain a week before. She came to review her progress on the prescribed medicines and to get further instructions. She appeared to be very content with her treatment, which cost her 30 rupees (about $0.65) plus the cost of the medicines. Her doctor, too, was happy with the outcome. The fact that the doctor and patient were looking at one another through video screens seemed not to register to either of them.

The next morning, we drove to Doda, a village of about 1,500 families, nearly all of whom make a living from the vast farmland that surrounds it. When we arrived at the Healthpoint, several men were packing their 20 liter jugs full of water (which cost them 2 rupees) on the backs of their bicycles. One of the amazing aspects of this company is that getting the water has become a man’s job in these towns, replacing a traditional woman’s chore. We think it’s because the Healthpoints are also high tech gathering places and getting the water is now a cool thing to do for the men!

Inside the Healthpoint, I joined a consultation in progress. A farm worker was suffering from pains in his shoulder and side. He had been to the local government clinic where he was given vitamins and a pain killer without any real discussion. Our clinical assistant took the man’s blood pressure, temperature, pulse, and weight, carefully entering it into his electronic medical record. During the examination, our doctor was present via a large screen monitor and was asking lots of questions. It turns out that the patient had experienced several episodes during his life that appeared to be epileptic seizures. The doctor ruled out an immediate threat to the man’s health and then asked whether the patient could afford 500 rupees to get an EEG in Bathinda to check for epilepsy. The patient said yes, he had saved enough over the past year to cover the expense.

Absent a referral by our doctor, who is known in Bathinda, that EEG might have cost the worker several thousand rupees, a sum that he would have to borrow from a local loan shark, thereby ensuring that neither he nor his young family would ever escape the economic and health consequences of his illness.

I saw several other patient visits that day, not only in Doda, but also in Mallan and Kotbhai, and I was impressed by the warmth and care provided by our staff and also by patients’ ease in being seen by a doctor on TV. It’s incredible that most of these individuals have never seen a real doctor before and now they interact with one as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. The video and sound quality is so high, the lighting is so good, and the care with which the employees treat these poor patients is so genuine that the exchange of information is excellent. I’d gladly trade some of my experiences with the medical system in New York for ones like this.

When I think back on all those hours spent at Wharton discussing business ideas that would  make a difference, we owe a significant debt of gratitude to my Wharton EMBA colleagues, including Sarabjit Singh, Vikas Khurana, Mike Parker, and Rittik Chakrabarti.  I really believe that there is a tremendous demand for services like ours, not just in Punjab but in many other Indian states and other developing countries.”

Thanks to Chris for sharing those highlights and good luck to Healthpoint Services in its future growth!

To learn more about Healthpoint Services, contact Chris Dickey at:

Posted by ExecMBA in Diversity , EMBA Academics , EMBA Alumni News , EMBA Program News , Entrepreneurship , Health Care , International Activities , Leadership , Not-for-profit , Science , Wharton School News |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton EMBA Alumna Talks about Lasting Lessons from First Day of School
December 2, 2009

After working as a pediatric surgical nurse and then at a small medical company, Shelley Boyce wanted to formalize her business education in Wharton’s EMBA Program. However, going back to school after working “in the trenches” for 10 years was a bit daunting.

During the weeklong orientation known as “boot camp”, a professor announced that if the students could survive his microeconomics class for the next six weeks then they would be fine. As challenging as that sounded at the time, she quickly realized that she would indeed be fine. “Wharton does a great job at selecting students who will succeed and giving them the skills they need to be successful – of course that doesn’t make it any easier that first week,” laughs Boyce.

That same week, another professor made an equally impactful announcement. She recalls, “He stood in front of our class and said, ‘There are three types of people: bean counters, gear heads, and poets. Figure out who you are and connect yourself to each of the other two groups and that will help you be successful.’”

Not only did that advice prove useful at Wharton, but it also rang true as she launched her start-up, MedRisk, the following year with fellow Wharton Executive MBA student Jerry Poole. The two, she explains, were very different. “Jerry is very bright, detailed, and structured and really knows how to build and sustain a well oiled operating machine where I am much more loose and creative. I work with a crayon and he works with a mechanical pencil,” says Boyce.

While working with others with diverse management styles can be challenging, Boyce maintains that it also is critical. “You need the thinking of people unlike yourself to make the business grow,” she says. “When hiring, we look for skills and talent, but also that type of diversity. When our professor said there are three types of people and each has his or her own skill set and contributions to make, that applies in business as well.”

During her second year at Wharton, Boyce says she was more relaxed and confident as she found her groove. However, that calm didn’t last long because not only did she deliver her first child that year, but she also started MedRisk. She credits the support from her classmates with helping her stay in the program despite the many demands on her time. “Wharton was where I needed to be. If I had taken a leave of absence, I would have lost out on a lot of opportunities and learnings that helped me in real time as I launched the business,” she says.

 “I’d be sitting in accounting class learning about financial statements and then go home and build a P&L for the new business. I’d sit in negotiations class learning how to buy a car and then go home and figure out how to negotiate getting money from an investor. Or in an operations class, I’d read these great case studies about the successes and failures of companies. And I still have Prof. Richard Shell's book about entrepreneurship which sits on my shelf and still gets pulled down twice a year – and this is 15 years later!”

Today, the company that she launched in 1994 with just six employees and a bank loan has grown national in scope, employing over 250 people and generating $120 million in sales. In addition to running her business, she and her husband, Dan, are busy raising their three daughters.  Boyce also spends time mentoring young entrepreneurs. “I feel extremely passionate about entrepreneurship. It’s one thing to start your own company and live through the successes of that, but equally rewarding is to pass it on and share some of that wisdom with others,” she says.

Boyce credits Wharton with many of those successes. “I didn’t have plans to become an entrepreneur when I undertook my Wharton MBA, but while here I gained the skill set, toolkit, and confidence to become an entrepreneur so when the opportunity came, I felt well prepared to take a risk.”

Read more about Shelley Boyce.

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Academics , EMBA Alumni News , EMBA Faculty , Entrepreneurship , Health Care , Science , Wharton Women |Permalink |Comments (0)

Wharton EMBA Health Care Elective Offers “Big Picture” Perspective
August 25, 2009

While students come to Wharton’s executive MBA program in Philadelphia and San Francisco from a wide range of industries, one in particular has been increasing over the past couple of years – health care. In fact, 20% of this year’s incoming class in Philadelphia works in the health care, biotech, or pharmaceutical sectors compared to 10% of the class of 2010. This industry representation among students in the Wharton l San Francisco program on the West Coast is strong as well.

Wharton Health Care Management Professor Patricia Danzon, who teaches the EMBA elective “Management and Economics of the Pharma-Biotech Industry,” observes that there has been so much change in that industry -- particularly at pharmaceutical companies which are thinking about things like how they are structured, M&A, and the relative role of pharma versus biotech -- that people are looking for additional training to help prepare them for opportunities as they move into more senior executive positions.

“A lot of students have been quite specialized in a particular function at their company so by coming to Wharton for an EMBA degree, they get a broader view of the industry which is important to go on to other positions,” she explains.

Danzon’s course, which is co-taught in Philadelphia by Wharton Professor Lawton Burns, starts out with an industry overview and then focuses on different areas such as the evolution of managed care and provider reimbursement, drug commercialization and pricing, integrated delivery networks, and biopharmaceutical R&D and M&A.

 “Students in the course are from very diverse backgrounds. We currently have a pharmacist, a few physicians, some from pharmaceutical companies, and others from finance. So we have lectures on non-pharma and biotech sectors to round out the picture of the marketplace and to cater to a broad range of interests,” she says.

Second-year Wharton EMBA student Tony Meehan has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 17 years and has a PhD in chemical engineering, so when Prof. Danzon’s elective was offered this summer he immediately registered.

“It’s an interesting time to be learning about the pharmaceutical industry because of the dramatic trends in terms of the reduction in revenue growth and how companies have to evolve to respond to the changes,” he says. “Health care is a unique industry in that it has not really adapted as quickly to some management practices that are more common in other industries and this is an excellent time to study it as it adapts to new models.”

As for what Meehan, director of drug development at Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey, has gotten out of the course, he says, “It’s a microcosm that gives me a chance to see the broader picture of the health care industry and how both my company and I fit into that. In fact, one of the most important things I have gotten out of the overall Wharton MBA for Executives Program is the big picture perspective to think about how the parts fit together in a company.”

He adds, “It sounds like a cliché, but the program really has worked out as advertised. I am able to bring what I learn on Friday and Saturday back to work on Mondays through Thursdays and it’s very impactful. It has definitely changed the way I approach my job.”

Posted by ExecMBA in EMBA Academics , EMBA Faculty , Health Care , Wharton l San Francisco |Permalink |Comments (0)