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From banking to healthcare: my personal transformation journey
MBA in International Healthcare Management / 7 March 2023
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MBA IHM Class of 2024
Woei had nearly 20 years of work experience in the banking industry before pivoting into healthcare three years ago. He was most recently a Director of Strategy for a governmental medical city in the UAE when he started his MBA. He is currently a freelance consultant in healthcare as he continues his journey in MBA International Healthcare Management at Frankfurt School.

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I spent 20 years in the banking industry, facilitating my career development in important experiences such as technology, data management, process transformation and regulatory compliance. The journey took me across three continents, starting as a fresh graduate in Melbourne, followed by New York City throughout the 2008 financial crisis before a significant time in London.

These experiences shaped my passion for operational efficiencies, process-oriented organisation and data-driven decision-making. But, most importantly, these years taught me adaptability, compassion and the joy of working in diverse cultural environments. But something was always missing; the human side, which is more than the numbers.

The opportunity – someone took a chance on me

As luck would have it, I was presented with an opportunity to join the healthcare industry as a management consultant right at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which subsequently led to a full-time position as a Director of Strategy for a medical city. One silver lining of COVID, perhaps?

The learning was immense and steep, but I discovered (I guess, as did my boss) that I have something to offer by bringing new ideas and challenging the status quo. Through mutual learning, and the willingness to listen, I collaborated with CEOs and Clinical and Non-clinical leadership teams to improve financial and operational efficiencies, quality and awareness in the organisation and community. This is where I realised I wanted more and had gaps I needed to fill to solidify my commitment and passion for the industry. One area that caught my personal attention was diabetes care, as I remember being a child watching my grandfather suffer late in his life, while all anyone could tell me at the time was that it related to ‘sugar’. It is probably the reason I have never had much of a sweet tooth.

The spark that triggered curiosity

The more I discovered about healthcare, the more I felt the need to explore further, which triggered the back-to-school project. A PhD project in the future of comprehensive diabetes care through digitalisation was the original idea, but very quickly, I came to realise no sponsors or schools would take a risk on a non-clinician in this topic.

Upon reflection and assessing the trend of commercialisation of healthcare globally, it was clear to me that my path should be filling the gap that the traditional healthcare mentality needs right now. An MBA would be very useful, but I had 3 non-negotiable criteria for any programme to be the right fit for me.

  1. A full Executive MBA model of programme structure and delivery (also part-time)
  2. A true focus on International Healthcare with practical global exposures
  3. Diversity and quality of candidates

The MBA International Healthcare Management programme is the only one I came across that offered all of that and beyond. I waited to go through two modules before writing this blog and have come to realise that every element of this programme is well thought through, curated and delivered like an orchestra. As students, we are both in the orchestra and front row seats to witness it.

Transformation project in progress

Starting the MBA was exciting but equally daunting. Following an intense 10 days of Module 1, I came away exhausted, stimulated and hungry for more. Whilst accounting lessons were great revisions for me, the in-depth lectures on different healthcare systems globally, along with hands-on experience sharing from professors and fellow students, validated any doubts I might have. Most important were the commitment and level of engagement from all fellow students that enhanced the experience.

As a programme designed for experienced professionals, I expected to have some good networking opportunities. But after two modules, my professional network reached places I never thought would come from an MBA. I had the opportunity to visit healthcare facilities and distribution centres that most people in the industry never get to and listened to inspiring healthcare leaders discuss their vision and challenges of the industry. Most significantly, the friendship that I was able to form in such a short time gave me a lot of hope for the demands of what remains of this journey and how it sets me up for the next. At the end of Module 2, we all still liked each other, which is a great sign.

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