Category: HSMP Graduate Profiles
Business in Motion
Growing up in Kansas City, Erin Gregory (HSM, PNP’12) starting dancing at age five and participated in a competitive dance team from the age of seven through senior year of high school. She says business school was the last place she pictured herself, but Gregory’s dance background and love of the stage has helped her excel in the classroom. “I love giving presentations,” she says.
She does it well outside of class, too. She was chosen as the student speaker for her MBA commencement ceremony.
Gregory studied journalism and psychology at the University of Kansas, where she joined Alpha Gamma Delta and served as president of the Panhellenic Association. After college, she worked as an account coordinator and later a senior account executive at Morningstar Communications, a small public relations firm in Kansas City.
“I had clients in retail, telecom, healthcare, nonprofit, and professional services like law firms, which really gave me a broad introduction to the importance of strategic communication,” she says. As she moved up the ranks and took on increasing responsibilities, Gregory discovered an interest in the healthcare and nonprofits, so she’s pursuing certificates in health sector management and nonprofit management.
At the time she may have surprised her family and herself by enrolling in Boston University’s MBA program, but Gregory says it was the right step for her professionally. As she puts it, “No matter what role you have, you need to have an understanding of business to move up and take on leadership roles.”
She’s gained experience through a summer internship with Beacon Health Strategies and a management consulting class in which students work with a local nonprofit. “It was a full-fledged consulting engagement,” she says of the class, “everything from doing a scope of services to delivering a project plan and implementation timeline for a real client that needs your help.”
In Gregory’s case, that client was Access, a nonprofit that advises high school students on financial aid options for college. Gregory and two of her classmates worked on identifying several metrics that would measure success across all of the organization’s departments so that senior management can gauge whether the organization is on track to meet its goals. “It’s a great resume builder but it’s also a great experience,” says Gregory. “The organization has a mission that I very strongly believe in.”
Outside the classroom, she’s involved in the School’s graduate student council as VP of governance and attends as many SMG social events as she can, including Cohort Cup events. “You’re placed in one of four cohorts and we all compete throughout the year through attendance at social activities like a basketball tournament or karaoke,” she explains. Those events, including trivia nights and a Halloween party, have helped Gregory bond with classmates in a more casual setting. She says meeting second-year students during her first year offered her valuable connections and advice.
After graduation, Gregory hopes to stay in Boston and work in consulting. “I think consulting is a great opportunity to put my new MBA skills to the test,” she explains. “In the long run, I want to think of myself as the kind of person whose life is not so planned that I can’t take advantage of things that come my way.”
By Susan Johnston
Ask Katy Perkins (MS•MBA ’12) about healthcare process improvement, and her eyes light up, ready for a challenge. This petite, soft-spoken management student is a savvy network who’s not afraid to tackle complex problems. She’s working on both a Master of Science in Information Systems and an MBA in Health Sector Management and completed an internship at Children’s Hospital Boston.
Before coming to Boston University’s School of Management, she studied math and economics at Bucknell University and worked as a research coordinator and executive staff program manager for a private medical practice in San Francisco. Gaining experience on the research and management sides of healthcare helped Perkins discover her interest in process improvement, which she describes as “a way to take a complex problem and come up with an organized solution tying together lots of different aspects.”
Perkins had the chance to hone her process improvement skills in her first healthcare class, HM703 Health Sector Issues and Opportunities, where groups of students act as “consultants” to solve an assigned problem. For the semester-long project, Perkins’ group examined ways to deal with inefficiencies in an emergency room.
“We had someone from pharma, me, coming from private practice, and a third teammate who had never worked in healthcare before, so it was interesting to take all these different backgrounds and work together to find a solution where we would all move forward,” she adds.
To supplement her coursework, she worked as a process improvement intern at Children’s Hospital Boston in the department of Environmental Health and Safety, collecting and analyzing data for the annual report, among other projects. “We are doing projects to increase the safety in the hospital and working to collect data as part of those projects, to show the value added of the work that the Environmental Health and Safety Department is doing through their Annual Report,” she explains.
A self-starter who’s eager to build her professional network, Perkins has gone on dozens of informational interviews with healthcare administrators around Boston and says networking made a huge difference in her internship search. Katy has found that “when you email someone as a student and say ‘I just want to learn about what you do,’ I’ve never had anyone say no.”
She also used the Feld Career Center for resume advice and joined the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) after attending a presentation on campus. In addition to hosting events, ACHE maintains an email list and offers resources to keep members current on healthcare reform and trends in hospital management.
Though Perkins misses California, she’s enjoying the change of seasons in New England and plans to stay on the East Coast after graduation. She hopes to work in process improvement eventually become Chief Operations Officer of a hospital someday. “In the long term, managing the day-to-day operations as a COO of a hospital would give me the leverage to make larger changes and give guidance at a strategic level,” she says. With her commitment to process improvement and the education she’s receiving at BU, Perkins is well on her way.
The Business of Biology.
Managing two medical research projects, including a psychiatric clinical drug trial at the University of California, San Diego and a Department of Defense project on post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, inspired Sara Meinke to learn more about the business side of healthcare. “I see how [new drugs] make a difference, so I wanted to be more involved at a higher level and make a bigger impact,” she says.
Though moving from Southern California to Boston brought a bit of culture shock (Meinke admits to missing her car), she settled right into the School of Management’s Health Sector Management Program (HSM). Outside of class, she plays in a coed soccer league and serves as president of the BioBusiness Organization, which connects students to the life sciences community in Boston and beyond.
Meinke says her choice to attend BU was a no-brainer, because HSM had “the best course offerings. We’re in such a robust life sciences community, and I love BU’s friendly culture. It’s somewhere you want to be.”
In between her first and second year, Sara landed a summer internship in global clinical operations at Genzyme, a biotechnology company where she analyzed data and patient information collected during drug development.
In addition to connections and resume help from the Feld Career Center, Sara credits the Integrated Project she completed during first semester with preparing her for the internship.
After a semester on that project with a team of students creating a pitch book on the fake acquisition of a snack product, Sara learned not only business skills but also the ability to work with different personalities in a deadline-driven environment. “I came from a clinical background and I didn’t know anything about business,” she says. “I’d never touched PowerPoint. We did a complete analysis on how we could revitalize the product through financial projections, marketing strategies, analysis of the entire snack food industry. It prepared me for my internship in ways I couldn’t imagine.”
The diversity of her HSM classmates is also preparing her to understand the global nature of healthcare. As Meinke points out, a drug developed in the United States might be available in other parts of the world and regulations in those countries often differ from those in the U.S. “We have people from all corners of the globe, so you learn how industries are run in different countries,” she says. “It’s a much richer experience.”
Once Meinke completes her MBA in 2012, she hopes to gain more experience in clinical operations and use her knowledge to help startup companies develop new medical treatments. With the education and connections she’s gained at BU, Meinke says, “I can help those people make a viable product that can get to market in budget, on time, and efficiently.”