Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Years in Transition: From Sales to Healthcare Management

Kevin Trexler, MBA '14
Prior to entering graduate school at UGA I spent just over ten years in sales working in industries from luxury real estate to medical device.  My career afforded me the opportunity to travel all over the U.S. and abroad.  Despite making it into the management ranks of a small medical device manufacturer, I’d reached a point of becoming pigeon-holed as a sales guy.  After ten successful years in sales I decided it was time for a change.  With the encouragement of my wife, I took the plunge and enrolled in the Full-Time MBA program at Terry.

The transition from the workforce to a fulltime student certainly caused trepidation, but my interaction with Terry students, faculty, and staff sold the salesman.  During these conversations two key features of the program stood out.  First, the flexibility of the program would allow me to customize my concentration and track.  Secondly, the expansive alumni base would offer the opportunity to expand my professional network.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but with my experience in medical device sales, I was interested in delving deeper into the ever-changing business of healthcare.  To do so, I had to expand my functional business knowledge beyond sales and marketing.  This is where the flexibility of the Terry program came into play.  I was encouraged to explore courses at UGA’s College of Public Health.  Taking classes in healthcare policy and consulting has allowed me to customize a concentration in both operations and healthcare management.

Outside of coursework, I joined the MBA healthcare club, and the Career Management Center introduced me to numerous alumni in the healthcare profession.  Through these avenues I was able to meet hospital administrators and consultants with whom I conducted informational interviews that helped narrow my career path and develop my course of study.  

In addition to networking, the Career Management Center coordinated a group trip to Nashville in November 2012 to visit key businesses in the healthcare industry.  During one of the business visits I was able to make a key contact that has become a mentor.  While in Nashville, I also attended the 2012 Vanderbilt Healthcare Conference which focused on post-election healthcare in the U.S.

Given these opportunities to focus my efforts in healthcare along with an on-campus recruiting event, I was fortunate enough to secure an internship in business process improvement with Premier Inc. in Charlotte, NC.  Premier is the nation’s leading alliance of non-profit hospitals, health systems and other providers dedicated to improving healthcare performance.  Premier uses the power of collaboration to lead the transformation to high quality, cost-effective healthcare.

From the ability to customize my concentration to include health policy and operations management to expanding my professional network exponentially, I couldn’t have imagined a better experience.  As the first year draws to a close, I look forward to many more opportunities as I complete an internship and progress through the second year.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Meeting Industry Leaders in the Terry MBA

Christina Smith, MBA '14
Arguably the best part of being an MBA student is having the opportunity to meet successful alumni and industry professionals.  I have gained a great deal of perspective hearing about their various career paths and been given valuable advice on what it takes to have a successful, fulfilling career.

In mid-October, a small group of MBA students interested in working in the healthcare industry met Pete Adams, the President of Noah Precision, which is a rapidly growing semiconductor equipment company located in San Francisco.

Pete’s primary message to the group: “Choose, don’t settle.”

Pete describes himself as an accidental entrepreneur. His career has been driven by opportunities that have naturally presented themselves and he believes he has been successful because he has always made the decision to pursue jobs he was passionate about. Pete’s career in medical devices started with his brother’s desire to find a new treatment for glaucoma, an eye disease that can permanently damage vision. Pete was coincidentally introduced to the semiconductor business after he volunteered to try to help out a neighbor’s struggling business.

Pete emphasized that truly successful people take calculated risks.  Pete’s calculated risks have led to impressive accomplishments: Pete played an instrumental role in the creation of a medical device that helps treat glaucoma in patients, he is currently working to grow Noah Precision, and he is a strategic and financial advisor to numerous private and public technology companies in the semiconductor, enterprise software and life sciences industries.

I had a similar influential encounter at “Marketing Day.” The Graduate Marketing  Association hosted Marketing Day at the Terry Executive Center in Buckhead, which featured a panel of diverse marketing professionals.  The goal of clubs at the MBA level is to connect students with similar goals and support their career objectives. For marketing students this includes setting up networking events, practicing case interviews, and sharing industry knowledge.

The panelists shared their unique experiences in vastly different marketing functions: sports marketing, brand management, marketing at UPS, digital marketing, and IT marketing. The highlight of the day was hearing Mallom Liggon, the Senior Marketing Manager at Turner Sports, talk about how he landed his dream job and his perspective on achieving success. Mallom taught the group that in order to land your dream job the most important thing is to explain how you can contribute to the organization, not what the organization can do for you.  Working in sports marketing was his lifelong dream, but it was his ability to demonstrate that he had the insight and ability to help Turner Sports to capture a target sports audience it was ignoring that landed him the job. The other profound tidbit of advice Mallom shared was “PIE” as a key to success: performance, image, and exposure. How you perform on your job will only impact your success 10%. Delivering is important, but it is a basic requirement. The other 90% is the people who know you and understand what you are about (your talents, interests, and goals).  He emphasized that networking is key to getting the exposure necessary to ensure that the right people in your industry know who you are. 
Pictured: Matt Rowenczak '14, Christina Smith '14, Kylah Harris '14, Jay Ferro, Betsy Curry '14, Alix Luce '14
Terry MBA students are also assigned to successful alumni mentors. I was fortunate enough to be included in a group of MBA students given the opportunity to build a relationship with Jay Ferro, the Chief Information Officer at the American Cancer Society. Jay has spent hours giving our students career advice and getting to know us on a personal level, including taking the time to drive to Athens to meet us in person! Jay also attended our first “Careers with a Purpose Networking Night” in Atlanta, which was a networking event that allowed students to meet professionals working to change the world through business.  Over 15 professionals attended the event that work in non-profits, foundations, and in sustainability roles in the Atlanta area.  Jay talked to the group about how the work he is doing as CIO at the American Cancer Society is measured in the number of lives saved. Learning about the work Jay is doing to streamline IT operations at the American Cancer Society and how it directly translates into more money being donated to cancer research is nothing short of inspirational!

When I came back to school to pursue my MBA, I knew I was going to expand my network.  In less than a year my network has literally doubled, if not tripled.  I’ve been repeatedly told that when it comes to landing a job, it’s all about who you know.  Thanks to getting my MBA at Terry, I’m proud to report I’m getting to expand my network with some of the most inspirational leaders in our country!