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Combining my career in the Pharma Industry with an International Healthcare MBA
MBA in International Healthcare Management / 20 May, 2020
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MBA IHM Class of 2020
Iván Salazar Rohleder is originally from Argentina and has been living in Germany since 2003. He is currently Senior International Key Account Manager at HRA Pharma, a consumer healthcare company, building and developing strong OTC and consumer healthcare brands. Ivan is a student in the MBA IHM Class of 2020.

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My job at the beginning of the International Healthcare MBA Programme was trade marketing. Connecting strategic marketing and operational sales, translating marketing strategies into sales objectives, while dealing with sales force how the sales team should tackle the job with details for certain products to drive sales and gain market share

The system of pharmacies in Germany is very independent and requires a different marketing approach than other countries actively recommending your product.

Why an MBA? A Bachelor was not sufficient when I graduated and it was assumed I would do a Masters. Industries and former supervisors and bosses, recommended it in order to get to a certain level in my career. It is also an opportunity to get further know how.

Why a Healthcare MBA instead of a traditional Masters Degree or a Pharma MBA?

I had an opportunity to do my Masters right after my Bachelor, but I wanted to gain work experience first. Comparing different MBA programmes I came to the conclusion that a Pharma MBA is too dedicated on Pharma and this would be too limited for me.

Since the MBA programme at Frankfurt School is a specialized MBA with strong focus on healthcare topics, it fits the needs of healthcare professionals. I wanted to learn at Frankfurt School due to the total different backgrounds of the MBA participants, as the class profile is very diverse. Students enrolled in the programme are coming not just from pharma but economics, medical, and non-governmental agencies. It is a diverse group of professionals and cultural perspectives too, not just from one industry and one country. I wanted a truly international programme; this is aligned to my new job, where we are dealing with Germany, Austria Switzerland but also Middle East and Africa so I have contacts with Middle East in the programme.

The unique experience during the international modules

The most valuable module so far is Singapore. My initial expectation was that quality and process management was only about hospital-based risk. However, process management improvement affects the whole industry, not just medical outcomes in hospitals. In my job, we deal with processes and process improvement and I can see the application in this. Therefore, I had no big expectations and they were more than fulfilled. The US module “Innovation, Strategy & Project Management” was a great module because the US market is very important from a pharma company point of view and I was lacking the knowledge of the market and market rivals. From a market perspective, I got real information on barriers, bottlenecks and how to further drive business in this market. And the best memory of the modules: India…that was quite challenging!

I had never been there before and there are many rumors about India. For me the real eye-opener was the private clinic in comparison to the public one, and how the management was tackling different challenges being next to each other. I never would have had the experience if I was not in the MBA programme.

The values of the International Healthcare MBA 

I have not graduated yet and I already have a new job. The MBA is needed for this job as a door opener and in particular, they wanted a view from Germany but also internationally. We will oversee Africa and Middle East business so when I told my company that I would be in Dubai for the module and had contacts in both regions they were very impressed. After one year in the MBA one major point is that everyone claims to be a good team worker, I was used to work independently with no contact with others, from a sales perspective you are always accountable for your budget and achieving your goals.

In my new position, I am highly dependent on other people without having the direct responsibility of them. I needed to convince them to work together with me and deliver in a certain way to help me drive my accounts. This is something I am learning to try to do this in a more professional way, to work with my peers in this programme. Doing these team assignments and in markstrat (marketing simulation) we deal with people on the same level and try to figure out how to work as a team to have a cutting edge together. It is a safe place to experiment and have learnings and apply the successes in my organizations. This is the benefit of doing an MBA. This was recognized by my former boss and colleagues, the open minded and cultural barriers to break through.

In the past, I was confident my way was the right way but this is not true, there are several different ways and approaches. To solve a problem your way is not always the best way. This is something we are constantly training during our team assignments and this helps me be more sharp and to get the input from others to get a hybrid solution. This supports the idea that, if all people are from pharma they come with the same challenges but from different professional backgrounds and cultures – it helps you think out of the box.

There may be other MBAs, but if you want to go out of your comfort zone with a diverse group of colleagues and achieve an excellent result, this is the MBA for you.

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