A conversation with Prof. Cliff Cramer, Director of the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management (HPM) Program at Columbia Business School, by first year Columbia Business School (CBS) student Alka Jhaveri '15, on changes in the healthcare job market for MBA students, and how the HPM Program is structured and adapting to meet the evolving needs of students and healthcare employers.
Alka Jhaveri '15: Professor Cramer, what are the challenges and opportunities facing leaders and managers of healthcare enterprises, and how has it changed in recent years?
Prof. Cramer: Healthcare professionals need to learn a new way of thinking: visualizing the effect of each decision on the multiple constituents that provide, pay for, and receive healthcare products and services -- while dealing with new sets of competitive and regulatory pressures. Due to market dynamics, professionals need to focus on: a) developing novel technologies and systems to reduce costs, create efficiencies, and improve quality of patient care, b) enhancing the value proposition of their product offerings in a resource-constrained environment, and c) investing in emerging markets and technologies to provide growth opportunities.
AJ: What do healthcare employers look for in MBA students pursuing careers in the sector -- how has it changed?
Prof. Cramer: Healthcare jobs for MBAs have changed because of the complexity of the industry. Healthcare employers are seeking students with broad professional and personal skills that go well beyond healthcare knowledge. That is why we stress the need for students to pursue integrated coursework in organizational change, managerial negotiations, leadership development, power and influence, supply chain management, risk assessment, M&A, and entrepreneurial selling among other courses to round out their training and facilitate their ability to secure attractive employment opportunities.
AJ: Where are CBS students finding jobs in the healthcare sector?
Prof. Cramer: CBS students are finding internships, full-time positions, and in-semester project work in various functional roles in biopharma and medical products companies (marketing, strategy, business development, finance, operations), with providers and payers seeking new business models and operational efficiencies, in rapidly growing healthcare practices of management consulting firms, in venture and growth equity investment firms, and technology-driven healthcare start-ups – all facilitated by the School’s NYC location.
AJ: How does the School’s NYC location benefit students interested in the healthcare sector?
Prof. Cramer: Students and faculty benefit from the close proximity to the myriad of healthcare industry leaders, investors, and advisors in the tri-state area. No other region has the breadth of healthcare stakeholders. Such practitioners participate in our learning and networking events (including our annual Healthcare Conference), as guest speakers in the classroom, and as mentors to CBS students.
AJ: How does the HPM Program position MBA students to succeed in this dynamic industry, and what new features are being added to further enhance the Program?
Prof. Cramer: The unique features of the HPM Program include: a) practical, flexible, and dynamic healthcare curriculum taught primarily by seasoned practitioners, b) networking opportunities provided by NYC location, and c) focused and informed career advice and connections to a wide array of stakeholders in the healthcare sector. New for 2014-15 is a healthcare entrepreneurship course focused on health information technology, and an enhanced emphasis on creating jobs for students interested in small to mid-size companies in the healthcare services sector (providers, payers, HCIT). There is a greater openness than ever by companies to embrace change, so we have to continue to adapt in educating future healthcare leaders and managers.
AJ: What advice would you give prospective healthcare students who are applying to Columbia/MBA programs?
Prof. Cramer: In addition to academic excellence, you will need to demonstrate leadership qualities, an ability to adapt to a changing global business environment, and strong personal characteristics (integrity, work ethic, compassion). Applicants should reach out to CBS students, faculty, and alumni to best understand the School’s collaborative and entrepreneurial culture. In the HPM Program, we want students that have the creativity and passion to pursue business opportunities that support the health and well-being of a global society while generating appropriate returns for invested capital.
Information on the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program at CBS can be found here.
2013 Healthcare Conference Team