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New Career Paths at the Intersection of Business & Healthcare: Insights from Rotman's GEMBA-HLS Alumni

May 31, 2023

Photo of GEMBA-HLS Alum Elham KhalkhaliAre you a healthcare professional looking for a career pivot? Sometimes, a jump-start is what you need. That’s what four alumni from Rotman’s Global Executive MBA for Healthcare and the Life Sciences (GEMBA-HLS) program shared during the virtual panel event Explore What is Possible: Career Paths at the Intersection of Business & Healthcare Life Sciences. 

There’s an increasing need for healthcare organizations to have people on staff that can bridge the intersections between technology, health and business. Physicians and scientists looking to grow and shift their careers can explore their new talents in these areas. The Rotman GEMBA-HLS is the first program that marries these sectors, and it’s ideal for senior-level working professionals in healthcare and the life sciences who are eager to drive strategic change and expand their leadership potential.

“I felt that I needed to know more about the business aspect of my trade,” says Elham Khalkhali (GEMBA-HLS ’23) whose expertise is as a pharmacy manager.  “I wanted to understand, financially and economically, how to manage the pharmacy services. The GEMBA-HLS really fit with my needs.”

Learning with a global lens

Raelynn Douglas (GEMBA-HLS '20) was working with a Local Health Integration Network in Ontario as a director of service provider relations when she started the program. “I wanted to take the MBA program as I was considering making a pivot in my career,” Douglas explains.

The ‘capstone’ research project prompted Douglas to launch her own company, Raesoleil Consulting, which supports healthcare organizations to improve employee engagement and retention.

Douglas continues her consulting work on the side while in her current role as the executive director of the drug plan and extended benefits branch of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health. “I am applying what I’ve been designing and practicing in my consulting company with a large team in the ministry and helping to tackle the health human resource shortage.”

The global lens of the GEMBA-HLS was especially beneficial to Douglas. “I was curious about other systems operating around the world,” she explains. “I wanted to see the challenges that others are facing and how they’re tackling them.”

While in the program, Douglas had the opportunity to hear firsthand from leaders from across Canada, in the United States, Dubai and Singapore. “It’s valuable to see beyond our borders and to hear from people who are addressing the same challenges in innovative ways.”

Making evidence-based improvements to care

Tania Principi (GEMBA-HLS ’22) knew she wasn’t looking for a career change. Instead, she started the GEMBA-HLS to become better at a job she already loved. When she joined the program, she was a pediatric emergency physician, director of strategic operations and director of quality improvement for the emergency department of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

“I wanted to be more effective at what I was doing,” Principi explains. “I was doing a lot of quality improvement and change management, but I was learning as I went, by trial and error.”

Principi was seeking a better way to lead but says she lacked business acumen. Now, as the head of pediatric emergency medicine at Alberta Children's Hospital, Principi takes evidence-based learnings from the GEMBA-HLS to provide better care for patients not only in her hospital but throughout Alberta.

“I get to be involved at a more systemic level to ensure that children across the province are receiving the same care,” Principi says. “I also work on future planning of system resources, designing our new emergency department and its workflows.”

Rediscovering a passion for healthcare with a flexible program

Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Sumit Verma (GEMBA-HLS '22) had worked in emergency medicine in his home country and in the UK for 11 years. But, “I was feeling a bit unfulfilled,” he recalls.

Verma knew he wanted to stay in healthcare but pivot away from patient-facing roles. This is what prompted him to take the GEMBA-HLS. He appreciated the program’s flexibility, allowing him to work and study at the same time. “I wanted to apply what I was learning in real-time,” Verma says.

In his new role as a department lead at Global Medical Response of Trinidad and Tobago, Verma oversees clinical education and performance of EMTs and paramedics in the country. He conducts quality improvement initiatives, develops and reviews clinical care policies, and makes decisions in the purchase of clinical equipment and medication.

During the program, Verma also started a concierge healthcare company, OpenDoor Health Ltd., leveraging the connections and advice of the network he’d built through the GEMBA-HLS. “I was able to interact with a lot of our faculty and get support with our strategy and marketing,” he explains. “It really feels like the Rotman community is there for you.”

Written by Andrea Yu | More Student Stories »

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