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Founding Health Innovation Fellows or How I Accidentally Got an MBA in Entrepreneurship

The following was written by Jennifer Thomas, MBA ’16:

One of the many reasons I chose McCombs was because of the burgeoning health industry in Austin. From the construction of the forward-thinking UT Dell Medical School, to the emerging digital health start-up scene, I knew there was opportunity as a McCombs student to get involved and learn from this growth.

While other MBA programs marketed more traditional healthcare concentrations, McCombs offered innovation and the chance to chart new territory in an industry in need of creative, tech-savvy ideas.

Once on campus, I got involved in the MBA Healthcare Association, eventually serving as president of the student-run organization. While this group does an excellent job of providing networking and high-level educational events, there was still a need for more in-depth healthcare programming where students could dissect and debate the many complexities of the U.S. healthcare system.

To help fill the gap, a fellow healthcare classmate, Nicholas Buck, and I launched Health Innovation Fellows (HIF) in the spring of 2015. The purpose of HIF is to promote McCombs as a place that produces business leaders with the capability to impact the healthcare industry through innovation and leadership. In other words, HIF provides an avenue for students to engage with groundbreaking healthcare leaders as well as gain hands-on experience bringing innovative ideas to the market.

Interested students apply and interview for HIF in the fall of their first year. In the spring, Fellows attend monthly roundtables with executive guest speakers. The events are part lecture, part group discussion and debate. Our January speaker is Stacey Chang, former Managing Director of the Healthcare practice at IDEO, the global design and innovation firm, and current Executive Director of the Design Institute for Health, a collaboration between the Dell Medical School and the College of Fine Arts at UT. In the fall or spring of their second year, fellows join healthcare companies for a part-time internship for credit where they can apply the innovation techniques learned in their first year and during their summer internship.

Because the health industry is in a state of rapid change, both in terms of policy and technology, hands-on exposure to current challenges is vital to building the knowledge MBAs need to succeed.

As a second semester student and almost Texas Ex, I am excited to watch this program evolve under the first class of official fellows. Looking back on our experience, I did not appreciate the entrepreneurial skills I’d ultimately learn while building a new student organization. The McCombs program leadership and the UT Healthcare Initiative team helped support us along the way, providing valuable introductions and other resources. If you’re looking for a program that allows you to not only learn from the best but also build your own legacy, there is no MBA offering better than McCombs.

Meet the 2016 Fellows

 

Ben Berg, MBA ’17 – Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on personalized medicine

Ben is the Co-President of Health Innovation Fellows and VP of Recruitment of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. Prior to returning for his MBA, Ben spent four years in consulting at NSF Health Sciences Medical Devices, advising medical device manufacturers on FDA regulations.  This coming summer, Ben will join Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals as an intern in their Experienced Commercial Leadership Development Program. Ben received a B.A. in Biological Basis of Behavior from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

Daniel Ledeen, MBA ’17 – Entrepreneurship & Healthcare – Nerds out on healthcare consumerism

Daniel is the Co-President of Health Innovation Fellows and a Vice President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs.  During his first semester at McCombs, Dan worked with the Health Catalyst program at the new UT Dell Medical School and with Capital Factory, an Austin based incubator and start-up accelerator. Prior to returning to school, Daniel worked in business development for Telcare, a Sequoia Capital portfolio company focused on developing mobile health tools to improve patient engagement and risk management through leveraging real-time data and analytics. Before joining Telcare, Daniel served overseas in the United States Marine Corps as a Logistics Officer. Daniel received a B.A. in History from Rice University in 2009.

 

Abhinayaa Chokkalingam, MBA ’17 – Operations & Healthcare – Nerds out on innovative healthcare devices

Abhinayaa is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and President of Operations Fellows. Through the 2016 academic year, Abhinayaa will work with Dell as part of the Supply Chain labs program and will intern in Dell over the summer in the same department. After graduating as an Electronics and Communications Engineer, Abhinayaa worked in a rotational management role at Siva Group based in India across various industries including healthcare, education and trading equities. As part of the program, she managed the marketing team of Aiwo, a subsidiary of Siva Group, launching and branding a futuristic healthcare product across India, Singapore, and Seychelles. Abhinayaa received a B.E. in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Anna University in India.

 

Dion Giannoukos, MBA ’17 – Marketing & Management – Nerds out on EMR and the growing use of data analytics in modern healthcare

Dion is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows. After spending the past four years in pharmaceutical R&D, Dion spent his first MBA semester developing his business acumen and was involved in several business challenges and projects alongside his coursework. This included an MBA+ project with NanoHybrids where he served as team leader, helping the client develop a marketing strategy for a new line of products directed at healthcare clinicians and research institutions. With previous experience in pharmaceuticals from translational research through clinical trials, Dion hopes to bring that knowledge and close connections with major institutions such as M.D. Anderson to McCombs. He looks forward to offering fellow students a better understanding of the challenges facing our healthcare system and how they can make an impact with the knowledge they acquire through their time at McCombs. Dion received a B.A. in Biology from Franklin & Marshall College.

 

Michael Love, MBA ’17 – Finance & Healthcare – Nerds out on making our healthcare system financially sustainable

Michael is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and Vice President of Education for the MBA Healthcare Association. Prior to returning to school for his MBA, Michael worked for Premier, Inc., a leading national healthcare solutions organization, in their consulting division. Michael worked with healthcare providers across the country, enabling them to increase hospital efficiencies, improve patient outcomes, and reduce the costs of care. His team-based projects allowed him to see all different sides of the healthcare industry, and through his work with the physicians, service line directors, and hospital executives, he implemented business opportunities that put the hospitals in advantageous positions in their markets. Michael returned to school to strengthen his financial, strategy and leadership skill sets so that he can continue to improve the financial stability of our healthcare system from a higher level. He received a B.B.A. in Finance from The University of Georgia.

 

Karthik Narasimhan, MBA ’17– Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on advances in drug discovery

Karthik is a Vice President of Health Innovation Fellows and President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. He is also a 2016 Marketing Fellow. Prior to business school, Karthik spent five years at Promega Corporation, a biotech tools provider for drug discovery, forensics and life sciences research. He was the Business Development Executive for the Asia Pacific region and was based in Singapore. This fall, Karthik worked on a MBA+ project for NanoHybrids, an Austin-based nanotechnology startup. He received a PhD in Biological Sciences from the National University of Singapore.

HIF Founders

 

Nicholas Buck, MBA ’16 – High-Tech Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on bringing the digital age to healthcare

Nicholas is the co-founder of Health Innovation Fellows and co-chair of the McCombs Admissions Committee. Prior to business school, Nicholas spent 4 years at a healthcare and pharmaceutical market research firm in NYC providing intelligence and consulting services to big pharma, health IT, and biotech firms. Last summer, he was a Sr. Graduate Advisor intern in Dell’s Commercial Marketing, Healthcare & Life Sciences group. There, he spent time formulating strategy for entry into a new customer segment and evaluating channel partner management programs. Post-graduation from McCombs, Nicholas will be pursuing start-up and boutique consulting firms that meld together his passion for technology and healthcare. He received a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University, and a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) from A.T. Still University.

 

Jennifer Thomas, MBA ’16 – Marketing & Healthcare – Nerds out on mobile health innovations

Jennifer is the co-founder of Health Innovation Fellows and outgoing President of the MBA Healthcare Association at McCombs. This past summer, Jennifer interned with Bayer Pharmaceuticals in their Management Associate Program and will return to join their commercial rotational program in the fall of 2016. Over the course of this past semester, Jennifer had the opportunity to intern in a business development role for a local health tech startup, NarrativeDx, as well as work on a digital health accelerator design project with the new UT Dell Medical School. Prior to returning for her MBA, Jennifer spent five years in client management roles with Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), the leading provider of independent ad-hoc consulting services to business professionals around the world. Jennifer received a B.S. in Human & Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University.

Conquering a Finance Case Challenge

I recently participated in the 2015 Finance Challenge, where I joined a team with three of my classmates in analyzing a business valuation case study and presented our solutions to a panel of judges.

Here are my top five favorite moments of the Finance Challenge:

  1. Forming our dream team

The first step in any case challenge is assembling a team of four classmates who are interested in participating. The best teams are diverse – not just in cultural background, but also in skill set, work experience, and future goals. This is valuable because your team can generate unique ideas, you can learn from others’ experiences, and your presentation will be dynamic. McCombs has a wealth of diversity, so it wasn’t hard to create a solid team. I teamed up with a former investment banker, a former lawyer and banker, and a small business owner – and two of my teammates were even married!

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  1. Preparing to tackle the case… with Home Slice Pizza

One of the key elements in preparing for a case competition is social time. After we received our case materials, we visited an Austin staple – Home Slice Pizza – where we talked about the case’s important issues and our ideas to solve them over two large pizzas and a bottle of Chianti. This dinner set the tone for our whole approach to solving the case challenge – relaxed, yet confident and efficient.

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  1. Cracking the quants

The inner nerd in me (okay, I’m kind of an “outer” nerd, too) was extremely excited to build the financial valuation model for this case. So naturally, it was one my favorite moments. Our whole team was eager to flesh out every detail necessary to make the perfect model. We utilized topics and frameworks that we learned in our core corporate finance class as well as the “flex-core” valuation class. I suppose my background in financial consulting and my teammates’ banking experiences may have helped, too…

  1. Delivering the presentation

Case competitions are a great way for students to practice their presentation skills. As a former consultant, I did quite a bit of presenting, and I really enjoy public speaking. It was exciting to discuss our analysis with the judges and hear their feedback. For those who are looking to improve their communication skills, McCombs provides an invaluable resource: MBA+ Coaches. The MBA+ communication coaches are all current candidates or graduates of the UT Communication Studies PhD program, and they are available to all full-time MBA students to help with speech anxiety, interviewing, networking, writing, and more.

  1. Networking and celebrating

After the challenge was over, we chatted with the judges and other recruiters who attended the event. We reflected on what we learned from the challenge: how to remain cool under pressure, how to sift through loads of information and data to determine the key issues, and how to work closely with your peers to come up with the most innovative solutions. Then we went to happy hour at Uchi (another Austin favorite) to celebrate our success with our significant others. There’s nothing like a few sushi rolls and a glass of sake to cap off a week of late nights, early mornings, and a successful competition.

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Hook ‘em!

-Tim Carreon, Class of 2017

The Road to Rowling: Future Home of the Texas MBA Program

In spring 2013, UT-Austin announced a $25 million pledge from Dallas businessman Robert Rowling, BBA ’76, his wife Terry Hennersdorf Rowling, BBA ’76, and their family to fund the construction of a 458,000-square-foot graduate business building – The new Robert B. Rowling Hall!

Rowling Hall will house the McCombs School of Business graduate programs, including the Texas MBA program. So, future Texas MBAs, here’s how our new home is coming along so far:
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The future home of the Texas MBA – Rowling Hall!

The Beginning of Something Big

Construction plans on the future site of the Texas MBA, Rowling Hall, began last fall. The new building, next to the AT&T Executive conference center on the UT-Austin campus, will open in late spring 2017. Rowling Hall will be the “launch pad” for projects between the school’s students & alumni, and the wider Austin community. Stand-out features include the new active learning classrooms!

Rowling Hall groundbreaking

Breaking new ground: (left to right) Associate Dean, Eric Hirst, Dean, Tom Gilligan, Robert Rowling, President Powers, and GBC President Maureen McCaffery

Groundbreaking of Rowling Hall

Construction on Rowling officially began on November 7th, 2015.
Texas MBAs are known for their work ethic. They have established a reputation as leaders, team players…They roll up their sleeves and seek solutions. They take risks and try new things. They make things happen.Eric Hirst, Dean of the Texas MBA Program

 

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Artist’s rendering of Moontower Cafe


“Meet me at the Moontower Cafe.”

Last fall, McCombs held a contest to name the cafe at Rowling Hall. Students from all six MBA programs responded with 127 submissions. A naming committee narrowed the list until student Mackswell Dickson, MBA ’16, emerged as winner, gaining a one-year tuition scholarship.   Among the attendees to the final announcement were donor Robert B. Rowling and MBA Program Dean, Eric Hirst. The winning name, the Moontower Cafe, was announced by Hirst in an email to all students.

 Read more about “Rowling Rising” or follow Rowling Hall on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

We’ll see you there in 2017! Hook ’em!

A Texas MBA Degree = A Head Start to Your Dream Career

That six figure salary; The desire to travel the world; The ambition to make a difference. These are some of the reasons  that bring us to business school and we all hope to fulfill these aspirations through that dream job at the end! At McCombs, the faculty strives to help us to do exactly that through the many resources the business school has to offer.

If you see the class BA181 in the MBA curriculum and wonder what it’s about, I’m sure you are not alone. When I came to business school, I was surprised to find not only core classes in Finance, Accounting, Economics, Marketing and Operations but also one dedicated to Career Management. This unique class is perfectly designed to prevent the ever-busy MBA from losing sight of that end goal: To not just get a job, but the right job. It is led by an extremely talented Career Management team who provide you with a road map to reach your goal. Outside of class, they are always accessible to provide advice on topics ranging from career switching, networking, resume writing, interviewing, or sometimes just providing a shoulder to lean on for advice.

Besides a dedicated Career Management team we also have access to communication coaches who help up build our brand and communication skills through personal coaching sessions. Being an international student still learning the ropes of a new culture, these resources have been extremely useful to me. I am able to walk up to the team with questions that sometimes seem silly to me, but have always gotten the support I need. This has helped me greatly during networking events and career fairs. Learn More.

Our schedules are packed with information sessions and networking events with over 350 companies visiting campus! This can sometimes get stressful with homework, exams,  and networking all happening at once, but it has opened up a world of opportunities.

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           Networking Reception at McCombs Career Fair          

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 Tech Trek visit to Facebook

Career resources come in many forms and one of the most valuable is the UT network. Being part of this big network gives you access so alumni and seniors who are always willing to help the next generation of graduating MBAs. My personal experience reaching out to alumni has always been extremely pleasant. They are always willing to take time out for students from their Alma Mater no matter how busy their schedule. The collaboration that the Texas MBA program fosters stays with you long after you leave school. Alumni and staff are always there to help you succeed.

Finally, the biggest resource offered is the University of Texas and McCombs brand. Every day I learn of the many doors this brand opens up to students. With alumni spread across many industries and companies all around the world, the brand brings with it immense opportunities that I am learning more about every day.

Gather aroundthe table

The Texas MBA Program Office will be closed on Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27. We will reopen on Monday, November 30.

Have you planned your visit to McCombs yet? Join us soon for an on-campus event to learn more about the program. Details and registration at TexasMBA.info.

Happy Thanksgiving and we hope to see you soon!

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