When clinicians and medical executives plan a move into general management, the value of a formal business qualification often becomes apparent – and the Executive MBA (EMBA) at Cambridge Judge Business School is proving to be increasingly popular for the sector.
Dr Andrew Jones, who was part of the 2011-2013 class, found the EMBA invaluable in giving him the confidence to move from a medical leadership role to a senior management position at Nuffield Health, the UK’s largest not-for-profit health provider.
Now managing director for wellbeing at the company, he recently oversaw the acquisition of nine Virgin Active Health Clubs – a deal that saw Nuffield Health’s overall membership rise to more than 325,000 people across 74 gyms and 202 corporate fitness sites nationwide. He says:
The EMBA was a game changer. When I joined the course, I was responsible for around £5 million worth of costs in the organisation – whereas two years out, I’m running a part of the business that has a turnover of just over £250 million.
For Andrew, particular attractions of the Cambridge EMBA included its opportunities for group work with a diverse and talented peer group, and its emphasis on personal development. “Most clinicians have based their career on being experts with good technical skills,” he says. “But modern careers in management are far more about leadership, communication and self-awareness – these ‘soft skills’ are essential in running complex organisations today.
“In this regard, the Management Practice module was really important. It showed how you applied all these skills in everyday situations, bringing together everything you’d learnt over the two years into a single point – and one which you can refer to as you go on in your career.”
Current EMBA student Angela Single is someone else who has successfully made the transition from a clinical background to a more overarching management role. Having begun her career in nursing, she went on to become managing director for Healthwatch – Britain’s first telehealth service – and to start her own consultancy in the sector. At BT Global Health, she has spent four years as clinical director for global market development.
“Though I have a background in business as well as healthcare, I still felt that people saw me as a clinician and that I needed the ‘stripes on my shoulder’ from a formal qualification, to use as a key part of securing an executive position in the healthcare sector,” she says.
I wanted a fuller understanding of the corporate sector and what its drivers are. I knew the Cambridge EMBA was right for me from the moment I walked into the open evening. It had the right kind of atmosphere – there was an absence of stuffiness.
She identifies two aspects of the programme as having been particularly useful. “One of them was totally new to me, and that’s corporate finance and accounting. This was something of a baptism of fire, but totally fascinating. The other was organisational management, which was more a question of brushing up on things I knew.”
What’s more, Angela believes that the wealth of expertise represented in her cohort has helped to broaden her business horizons – and that this benefit is set to continue beyond graduation. “There are people on the course that I’d never speak to in my daily life: corporate financiers, hedge-fund managers, people from the retail sector… an amazing variety of people from different countries.
“I know I can pick up the phone at any time and get the benefit of their knowledge. And we’re known as a close group; I think we’ll stay in touch and continue to work on projects together after the EMBA.”
Andrew agrees about the ongoing benefits of the EMBA. “It has given me the tools, confidence and skills to keep on moving up the career ladder,” he says. “I’ll always remember it with a lot of gratitude.”