Healthcare

Roger Jared Milford
EMBA
Class of 2017
Program Details: 
EMBA Americas
Previous Education: 
Bachelor of Commerce - UNISA
Current Work: 
Clinical Innovations Product Manager – Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
Post-CBS Goals: 
Run my own company in the IT / A.I. / Healthcare sector
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Walking through New York while talking to my classmates – We would often walk from campus back to the hotel at Times Square, giving us time to discuss class, theoretical business ideas, or total nonsense.
Areas of Interest: 

What brought you to CBS? What is your background?

I’ve always had the spark of entrepreneurship within me. After working for a sports medicine company in my late 20s, I realized that I had learned enough of the skills needed to run my own business. So a few months after I turned 30, I started my own company in South Africa, my home country, within the radiology market. I started selling x-ray lightboxes and quickly moved to digital x-ray technology, which at the time was in its infancy. I soon realized that if I could become an expert in the latest medical technology, I would have a great advantage over those with outdated ideals.

In 2007 I moved to Vancouver, Canada, to be closer to my wife’s family, and decided I would try to replicate the business here. Very quickly, I realized that a successful business model cannot always be implemented directly into new markets, and I realized that my connections and local experience was severely lacking. It was then that I started looking into getting into the best MBA program possible; one that would give me the knowledge, credibility and connections to improve my likelihood of success in North America.

What was your favorite part of the program?

The community. My classmates were inspirational and a source of immense knowledge. We had people from all over the world who were able to bring unique perspectives from a wide variety of industries to really complement the courses. The friendships we were able to build are extremely valuable to me, and I stay in close contact with each of them.

How did the diverse CBS community affect your experience in business school?

Being a program largely developed for those living outside of New York, we were fortunate to have people from across the globe in our class. From Peru to Mexico, to Australia, to the Ivory Coast and Uganda, we were able to build a network that spans the globe. We all learned so much from each other, and continue to collaborate and assist one another now that were finished.

The Columbia alumni are also extremely helpful, especially here in Vancouver. We meet every two or three months and discuss our opportunities, our challenges, and how we can assist in being ambassadors for Columbia wherever we go. The mentoring programs that Columbia offers, as well as career guidance and innovation labs, is a fantastic resource for helping you to achieve your long term goals.

Did you have a favorite professor or course?

There were so many great professors. It started with my accounting professor, Amir Ziv, who was excellent. No professor put in as much effort with me as Donna Hitscherich did with her Corporate Finance class, and I probably learned the most there. Corporate Finance was intense, challenging, and fulfilling, and she went above and beyond with late night group conference calls each week to make sure we were keeping up with the bankers in the class. Perhaps my favorite classes though were the Operations classes taught by Nelson Fraiman and Medini Singh. They worked excellently together, organizing class trips and adding the practical knowledge and understanding of what is needed today to be an effective organization and ensure operational procedures are put in place to optimize outcomes.

And it would be amiss to not mention the class on Globalization — listening to Bruce Greenwald and Joseph Stiglitz discuss world economics and trade felt like sitting at the feet of Socrates and Aristotle, and I’ll always treasure that time.

When did you first feel the impact of the program?

Immediately. In one particular class (Business Analytics), I had an ‘Ah-ha’ moment when I realized the impact that statistical analysis could have within the healthcare industry. Statistics was a struggle at first, as it was something I had never done before, but it opened my mind to the opportunities available in my specific industry. As I formalized many of the concepts I already subscribed to, and combined them with new skills, I was able to make myself a better all-round entrepreneur. That put me on the path where I am today, heading up the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning division of one of the biggest radiology software companies in the world.

What are your future career plans? How has CBS influenced them?

There are many exciting opportunities across all industries where artificial intelligence will revolutionize the way we currently do things. Many A.I. aspects sound scary, and receive a fair amount of kickback from people who fear losing jobs and being made redundant. I do believe many jobs will change, but I see this as happening in a positive way, where the job functions will change and improve.

CBS further instilled in me my values and moral obligation to do my best to make a positive impact in the world. We are a very fortunate group of people who have the potential to do much good, and as I look to my future plans, they include building companies that make a positive difference to those around us. My Columbia MBA has opened doors and given me the confidence to stand on level grounds with many of the world’s leaders in business, and provides an opportunity to have my voice heard. Already the level of credibility in dealing with A.I. industry leaders shows when they realize they’re dealing with a fellow top school attendee.

What advice do you have for those considering Columbia Business School?

Strongly consider the EMBA Americas program. It offers a fantastic way to get your Columbia MBA no matter where you are in the world. By slicing out a week per month for course work, you are able to focus fully and build the relationships and knowledge that you need to succeed. The EMBA Americas program is, in my mind, the best value for the money of all the MBAs Columbia offers. Our class of 36 students was able to travel to San Francisco, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Uruguay, and Shanghai, and obtain practical experience to back up the theories learned in class. We would often joke that we were the fighter pilots on the Columbia MBA aircraft carrier, and many in other classes were envious of the close bond we were able to build as a class.


 

Kal Chaudhuri
EMBA
Class of 2011
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Current Work: 
Director, Channel Management and Growth, Healthcare - Aramark
Areas of Interest: 

Prior to starting, what were you expecting the program to be like? How was it different than your expectations?

I expected the program to be academically thorough. I also expected to learn from diverse experiences of my accomplished classmates. On both the above fronts, Columbia EMBA exceeded my expectations. The program was not only very thorough, the classmates were also very accomplished. The experience to work on a real life project with fellow classmates through Pangea advisors was definitely a great experience.

How has your EMBA experience translated into growth in your career?

An EMBA from Columbia Business School helped me get into the door for opportunities that I may not have been considered for earlier. It also helped me do my job better through strategic and abstract thinking learned through case studies. My opinion and direction at work is taken more seriously due to my educational background.

What advice would you give to a new student coming into the EMBA program at Columbia Business School?

I would suggest getting involved with different professional groups available on campus such as Venture Capital, Consulting, Healthcare, etc. Getting involved with these groups may not result in direct employment, but the knowledge gained will help you at work by enabling you to position yourself for better opportunities.

Also, try to get involved in off-campus projects coordinated by Columbia Business School. One of the projects I was involved with was to build a hospital in Ghana through Pangea advisors. The experience to work with fellow classmates will not only help you to broaden your perspective but will also provide you with rare experience of working at uncommon global locations.

David Kim
EMBA
Class of 2017
Program Details: 
EMBA Americas
Previous Education: 
Columbia SEAS 1990 BS, Downstate Brooklyn 1999 MD
Current Work: 
Managing Partner Regal Healthcare Capital Partners
Post-CBS Goals: 
Developing a successful private equity company
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Golf, tennis, and spending time with my wife and three kids
Areas of Interest: 

Your professional background is a bit different than many MBAs, right?

Yes, I finished my undergrad at Columbia in 1990 and graduated as an industrial engineer. I worked for Arthur Andersen, primarily in the operation consulting division, for three years. Then I did a Columbia post-baccalaureate program to take biology so that I could apply for medical school.

I went to med school and graduated in 1999 from SUNY Downstate Brooklyn, where I also met my wife. We got married during my second-year of residency while we were both at Long Island Jewish Hospital. I was an emergency medicine resident, and she was a radiology resident at the time. After residency, I became an attending physician for North Shore Long Island Jewish Hospital. So I was working nights in the ER when I started my first business, an urgent care called Premier Care, in 2007.

What made you want to start your own business?

I was an operational engineer, and the emergency rooms were very inefficient.

I started Premier Care with a fellow ER doctor in Lynbrook, Long Island. We had to learn everything about running a business — about credentialing, contracting, billing, marketing, hiring, staffing, and the back-office operations of a medical practice. But no one else was providing urgent care like we were in 2007. So people noticed, and my second partner was Dr. Richard Park, who is now the CEO of CityMD. We opened a second practice in Levittown, NJ, in 2009. The swine flu hit, and even though we were busy, we were able to see our patients within 15 minutes. Our patient-load tripled in volume, and we were able to keep up.

So Rich took the model and opened up CityMD — eight locations — in Manhattan. Premier stayed in Long Island, and we opened 10 more centers there. We merged the two companies in 2013. Then just this year, in 2017, a second private equity company bought a piece of our business. I also started a new company called Progressive Emergency Physicians, which is an ER staffing company. We took over one hospital in October 2013, and today we have five contracts with five different hospitals; that’s 120 clinicians. In September 2014, I co-founded another company, Dental365, which now has 14 locations and over 200 employees. We offer dental care 365 days a year and during off-hours in the evenings and on weekends.

So you’ve really made a career out of making healthcare more convenient and accessible.  

That was my strength: having worked as a physician, I knew what patients wanted most. And most patients want convenient access to healthcare. Unfortunately, up until the urgent care boom, there weren’t a lot of companies that were really giving access to medicine at the convenience of the patient. So we’re filling that niche, essentially.

You were already a successful business owner. What led you to Columbia Business School? What was the most beneficial part of the EMBA program for you?

I was interested in starting a healthcare fund and wanted to learn more about finance. That was my area of weakness. So I started at Columbia Business School in January 2016 and graduated in August 2017. I found all my courses very interesting from the beginning, and my teachers were amazing. My two favorite classes were corporate finance with Professor Donna Hitscherich and entrepreneurial finance with Dean Glenn Hubbard. Those two classes have definitely been instrumental in my development as someone who wants to invest in other companies. But I also loved working with 30 other students each month and the personal relationships that developed with like-minded, good-natured people. 

What are you doing now?

I’ve started a healthcare fund based on the same philosophy of what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years: helping healthcare service companies grow. I have a number of my former CityMD partners investing in what will hopefully be a $50-$60 million fund to start. We’re investing in the micro-to-small healthcare service companies and helping guide them to the next level — for instance, clients might include a psychiatry company, veterinarian company, or a dermatology aesthetic company; any business that shares our goal of making healthcare more accessible and convenient. We plan to launch in January 2018.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for new students?

I would say just make sure to spend time with your classmates because as much as there’s an education to get from your teachers, you learn just as much from your friends in the program. I feel like we’re going to have lifelong friends that we can reach out to and talk to about our issues. What’s nice about the EMBA program is that all of us were in the same boat, juggling full-time jobs, family pressures, etc. It was refreshing to be around so many people who worked so hard. You learn a lot about people under that type of pressure, and luckily for our group, I saw the really good sides of all my fellow classmates. 

Tony Shih
EMBA
Class of 2018
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Jericho, New York
Previous Education: 
BSc in civil engineering from Stanford University MD from University at Buffalo, State University of New York
Current Work: 
Cardiologist at ColumbiaDoctors Medical Group
Post-CBS Goals: 
I want to leverage my management, leadership, and financial training with Columbia’s strong network to obtain leadership roles and responsibilities in a major regional health system.
Favorite NYC Activities: 
I enjoy spending time trying out new restaurants, lounges, and cafés, and I enjoy the performing arts and theater. I also enjoy Central Park, the waterfront, and biking along the promenade.

What brought you to business school?

I’ve been a practicing cardiologist for the last nine years. I was adept in technology and the sciences and wanted to have a career that made a positive social impact — something that would allow me to directly affect individual lives. That’s what drives people to go into medicine. At first, you go into the field, you’re wide-eyed, bushy-tailed, and it’s exciting. Interventional cardiology is a mix of medicine and surgery. If someone comes in with a heart attack and a clogged vessel, we’re able to open it up and have an immediate impact on their symptoms and health status, and, often, preserve their life. It was great. It was a rush, and I loved it. The problem is, as many healthcare providers will tell you now, the field is excessively burdened by regulation, bureaucracy, and documentation requirements. There are a lot of different players that are inserting themselves into the traditional provider/patient relationship.

Of course, that leads to decreasing career satisfaction for many healthcare providers, myself included. I wanted to branch out. I wanted to see what else in healthcare might interest me. I’ve always also been interested in finance, entrepreneurship, and management. I wanted to go to business school to get a different perspective, to meet people in other industries who were also facing change and disruption and see how they were coping with it. Also, I wanted to speak the same language and be on equal footing with the administrators who were increasingly dictating the course of my career and the way that I treat patients.

Why Columbia?

Obviously, it’s the Columbia brand. It’s unparalleled. The alumni network is second to none for a program in New York, but it also has an incredible international reputation. More specific to my field, there are a lot of alums from Columbia in leadership positions in the health systems of the New York region and quite a few Columbia grads who are executives in pharmaceutical companies in northern New Jersey. Plus, there’s a Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program at the School that hopefully will grow, develop, and become an institute. I would like to be more engaged with the program after I finish the core curriculum, which is taking up a lot of my time this first year.

How do you balance everything?

You have to become a very efficient time manager. Even as a busy working professional, there were gaps in my schedule in the past that I did not utilize to the utmost efficiency. Now that I’m going through this program, I’ve become very efficient with the use of my free time, of which now I don’t have much. Any little time off from work, I try to maximize it — get an assignment done or catch up on reading for class. It took some adjustment, but I think that the sacrifice is well worth it thus far.

What’s your favorite part of the EMBA experience so far?

My favorite part has been just meeting and interacting with my classmates. Working with people from different professions and disciplines expands my horizons. Before the EMBA program, most of my network was in healthcare. Meeting my fellow students from other fields helped me realize that their industries have disruptions, too, and they’re adapting in their own ways. It’s interesting to find out how people react to change in other industries. One of the main reasons I chose to get an MBA and not a master’s degree in public health is because I wanted to branch out and meet people from other industries. I wanted that broader, wider industry perspective beyond healthcare.

How have your professional skills translated into success at business school?

In order to be a good physician, it takes years upon years of training. You discipline yourself, hit the books, and dedicate yourself to a regimented schedule and to constant self-improvement. You’re always in the mindset of continuing education. Education for a healthcare professional doesn’t end when they finish their formal training; it’s a lifelong process. I’m always in the mindset of learning. So I came into the program with that focus and discipline. Being back in school wasn’t that big of a transition for me.

Also, with my background being different than the majority of my classmates, we have many discussions about the current healthcare issues that people hear about on the news. The healthcare field represents almost a quarter of the domestic economy, so it should be front and center. It’s hard to avoid discussions or not participate in the system. It’s great to lend that perspective to classroom discussions, and in return the wisdom of my classmates will help me broaden my horizon and make me a more effective leader. 

Nana Yaa T. Mensah
EMBA
Class of 2017
Program Details: 
EMBA New York
Hometown or Country: 
Chicago, IL
Previous Education: 
BA in Biology from Grinnell College
Current Work: 
Pathology Technologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center 
Post-CBS Goals: 
I want to utilize both the hard and soft skills I have learned at the School to create outcomes that provide value in my work decisions and personal life.
Favorite NYC Activities: 
Spending time with my husband, playing with my puppies, listening to and performing music.

What is your professional background?

I work at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in clinical pathology performing genetic testing assays. I began my career at MSKCC in the Infectious Disease Service in research. I later transitioned into pathology, because it gives me the opportunity to flow seamlessly between research and clinical workflows. Pathology has grown so quickly since the advent of personalized medicine. We now use genetic-based advanced tools to find out if someone has disease. From there, Pathology passes that information on to the person’s physician, who will prescribe treatments and medications to help them to get through a very difficult time in their life.

Why did you choose the EMBA program?

Whenever something new and important comes out, it’s really important to look at it, turn it upside down and figure out if that thing is going to be beneficial. I wanted to leverage the curriculum of Columbia’s EMBA program to help me move forward research applications that can be transitioned into clinical applications in pathology. I also wanted to continue working full time so I could use knowledge I would gain at the EMBA program on a daily basis, while staying connected to my field.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how has that impacted your decision to go to business school?

The past two years have been challenging for me. Unfortunately my mother passed on while I was in the second semester of the program. I actually applied to Columbia Business School with her knowledge, and she was very, very excited about me going. She graduated from high school, and that was where she stopped. She’d always told me, ‘You have to keep going. And you have to learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power.’ She came to visit me about a year before she passed. She visited the campus and said, ‘This program would be great for you, Nana, and you should do it!’ Then suddenly, a drunk driver struck her. During that time period, I wasn’t exactly sure if I wanted to continue the program; I was heartbroken.

In order to continue the program, I had to gather my inner resources, and then acknowledge to myself that I’m part of my mom’s legacy. She was a pretty tough woman, but she was gentle and kind, too. I felt that it would do her a great honor to continue the program. With the help of my family, friends, the community here at the School, my learning team, and people in the Black Business Student Association, I’m in my last semester of the program.

Can you talk more about the community that you found here?

It’s interesting because while it’s a diverse community, it’s also a close community. There’s something about the way the School brings students together that is very special. I haven’t actually seen it anywhere else. The program is designed to allow students time to get to know each other outside of class in a meaningful way. School-sponsored events after class, like happy hour, gave me the opportunity to build familiarity and strong ties with my classmates.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

Besides continuing to work in pathology research, I’ve been thinking about entrepreneurship. I’ve been impressed by the new platforms that people have been creating in the healthcare sphere.

I collaborated with an EMBA student who also works at MSKCC in my Marketing Workshop class. We helped a company move forward on the marketing goals for their product. I believe their product will be a very important diagnostic tool in the future, and the experience working with this company made me more interested in entrepreneurship as a career choice.

What advice do you have for an incoming student?

I would love to give two pieces of advice. One is to be well organized and plan your trajectory through the program. In order to get the most out of your class experiences, put your priorities first and remind yourself about these priorities as you go through your day. Understand that your time is valuable.

The second thing is to have fun while you are learning. I have had a wonderful time, attending residence weekends, dinners organized by fellow students, and trips abroad. There’s a little time to stop and smell the roses, and it’s important to do that because you can come away with some beautiful relationships that will last for the rest of your life.

 

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Fall 2015 Cross-Registration Dates

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