One year into the International Healthcare Management MBA programme, the time had come for the Singapore module, the second module taking place abroad as planned. I had been to Singapore once before, 20 years ago; it was the final destination of my southeast Asia backpacking tour. I recall Singapore being very clean and modern. A lot has changed in my life since then, and Singapore has changed as well. The city is still very clean and modern, now with the addition of landmark architecture and strong undercurrent of innovation and entrepreneurship.
The first day of our module was dedicated to “Biomedical innovation in Asia”, a programme organised by NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, through which we got to meet and learn from brilliant entrepreneurs who shared their professional stories.
First, we met a biomedical engineer who had started a bioanalytical company in 2010 and when she first learned about the Sars-Covid-2-virus, realized she had everything required to switch focus to covid-testing and analysis. As soon as the viral sequence became public, this is what she did. Not only did she have the know-how and organization in place, but she also had the courage to actually do it. I was deeply impressed with her passion, her knowledge of every detail of the business side as well as of the scientific side of the company and perhaps more than anything, her seemingly fearless approach.
We also met a young surgeon who had achieved more in her early career than most people achieve in a lifetime. On the one hand, that’s quite intimidating, but luckily, she was a very inspirational speaker who seemed genuinely driven by curiosity and determination. From her, I learned that innovation is hard work and something that can be achieved by applying certain techniques and approaches, like the Stanford Biodesign Innovation Process. Although we tend to think of innovation as some divine strike of insight, she argued that is far from reality and highlighted multidisciplinary teams as a success factor.
Finally, the CEO of a pharmaceutical company shared how he founded his business and the reasons for being based in Singapore. Like every presenter, he very generously shared his career story; he had broad experience in big pharma and then went to banking before embarking on his entrepreneurial path. For me, as a pharma industry professional, I could relate to his background, and I was very curious to know how he had been able to acquire the compounds now being developed by his company. My key learning from his answer was the importance of network.
Singapore is not only very clean but also very well organised and the site visit at Singapore General Hospital was no exception. It has been eye-opening for me to learn about different healthcare systems throughout the MBA programme and the site visit enhanced the impression. As a pharma industry professional, it deepens my understanding for the differences in these markets. Placing the modules in countries, which each represent a health care system, is one aspect which makes this MBA programme unique.
The experience of being part of this diverse, multicultural group has exceeded my expectations. Just as the super successful surgeon in Singapore stressed, the multidisciplinary nature of the team is a success factor. Learning from my fellow students, from their perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, is indeed a major part of this programme. In these times of international instability, being part of this community is also somehow comforting and adds another value dimension.
As the module in Singapore has been completed, I find myself halfway through my MBA studies, astonished at how soon we got here. I embarked on this journey, expecting graduation to be the destination, but now finding it might just be the beginning of a new mindset I will benefit from for the rest of my career.