An EMBA Evening on Healthcare Entrepreneurship

     

How do you strike out on your own from a steady job, start a company in the notoriously hostile arena of healthcare and thrive? For anyone who’s pondered this question, we found three individuals who’d done just that and were willing to share their success stories during the EMBA Healthcare Entrepreneurs Panel earlier this year at the Claremont Hotel.

There are many leadership opportunities beyond the classroom of the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. One of my responsibilities as class president is to organize the speaker series for the class of 2015. Each Friday sees a noteworthy speaker visit Haas to share their business and life lessons, and to spark debate and reflection over lunch with students.

The deep network of my classmates means that we have a steady stream of diverse and enriching topics for us among our invited speakers. For instance, in the last few months we’ve covered subjects ranging from energy efficiency to the impact of technology on mankind; we’ve  been challenged by a thought leader in social marketing and the former chief of staff of the Indian army.  

Late last year fellow student Alf Cheng approached me with the name of an entrepreneurial biotech executive who'd be a great match for the speaker series, but couldn’t make the lunch slots during our usual Thursday to Saturday class format. As members of the student officers group, Alf and I are focused on making the best of the student experience, building out connections and representing the Berkeley-Haas EMBA brand.

Berkeley EMBA physicians at the program's Healthcare Entrepreneurship Evening

Physicians from the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program classes of 15 and 16: Jason Weisner (16), Zino DiPerna (15), Sandeep Garg (15), and Johannes Peters (16). 

A chance to do something in all three areas appeared as we contemplated an evening panel event, allowing students more time to socialize, switch things over from a formal presentation format and be unconstrained by our regular one-hour slot. In short order, we recruited two more Haas healthcare entrepreneurs from our network and the event came together.

One of the reasons I chose to study at Haas was the abundance of connections to students and faculty both within and beyond the business school. In addition to our classmates, we brought in students from our program's class of 2014 and also newly-admitted members of the class of 2016, as well as students from both the Berkeley-Haas Evening & Weekend and Full-time  Programs. We also reached out to students at the School of Public Health through the Haas Healthcare Association and also students from other business-schools in the area. 

Over the course of the evening, our panel shared some of the unique challenges associated with entrepreneurship in the pharma/biotech arena—including the challenges of pitching to venture capitalists accustomed to tech-style quick exits, the critical importance of building a good board aligned with your interests, how to play to your strengths, and how to contemplate running a clinical trial outside of the US for a fraction of the usual cost and overhead of a traditional program. Coming so soon after our Silicon Valley Immersion Week, this close up view of healthcare entrepreneurship added an extra dimension for the EMBA class of 2015.

Once the panel wrapped up, conversations carried on into the night over wine and dinner, business cards were exchanged, plans made to meet at other events, and students took more lessons back to their day jobs. All in all, a great networking and learning event that came about through challenging the status quo of our speaker program format.

  

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