Aneel Ursani smiles for camera in front of lush green landscaping on Berkeley Haas campus

An entrepreneurial psychiatrist with a bold vision gains business insights

By Susan Petty

“Berkeley Haas is a dynamic, collaborative environment, where we are encouraged to bring our most authentic selves to the classroom, to our jobs, and to our relationships,” said Aneel Ursani, MD, EMBA 25. “For me, that kind of self-awareness and the ability to feel good in your own skin are also indicators of good mental health.” 

As a practicing psychiatrist in a medically underserved area outside of Kansas City, Aneel sees firsthand the challenges of delivering  high quality mental healthcare: workforce shortages, long wait times, fragmented and uncoordinated care. As he sought to address these challenges in his own community, Aneel saw the potential to leverage technology and data science to improve mental healthcare more broadly through increasing access and optimizing clinical quality. . Within a few years, Aneel became the co-founder and chief medical officer of two start-ups: Klinic provides administrative and clinical support services to sole practitioners treating addiction, while Revive Telehealth delivers on-demand psychiatric services to emergency rooms across the nation. 

With a goal of wanting “to help people get better faster and lead more productive lives,” Aneel plans to “change the mental healthcare paradigm, beginning with more impactful and meaningful emergency room care through more objective clinical assessments and risk stratification, while delivering care that is less costly and more efficient.”

But healthcare is a business and Aneel knew he had to match his clinical skills with deeper business acumen to succeed as an entrepreneur.  “From my days as a pre-med undergrad, I knew Berkeley’s reputation for intellectual rigor and break-the-mold thinking,” he said. “At Haas, I’ve found all that, plus a real dedication to bringing quality innovation to market.” 

He spent the first two semesters of his Berkeley MBA for Executives program getting accustomed to being a student again and conquering new subject matter. He is already applying classroom lessons in his own enterprises. Managerial Economics, for example, gave him insights into pricing for competitive advantage, while  Marketing Organization & Management underscored the need to be “customer-obsessed and to address regional differences in marketing,” he said. 

Now, Aneel is reaching out beyond campus, exploring connections among the 44,000-strong Haas Alumni Network. “I am interested in finding mentors and advisors who will be able to challenge me and prompt me to keep on learning,” he said. “I was so impressed with the people we met in our Entrepreneurship Immersion. So many Silicon Valley founders—most of them Haas grads—gave so generously of their time and their thoughts.”

This summer, Aneel will venture further from campus as a participant in GNAM, a global network of 32 leading business schools. He has chosen to study for a week in Singapore. “The Asian healthcare market offers points of both comparison and competition for the U.S. There is such an opportunity for rapid growth in that region. In truth, mental health is a global concern and mental healthcare should be a global market,” he said.

One of the things Aneel enjoyed as an undergrad at Cal was taking classes outside of his molecular and cell biology major. He said, “I took so many psychology classes that it became a second major and set me on the path to becoming a psychiatrist.”  He is casting the same wide net in his MBA studies. Aneel will qualify for the Healthcare Management Certificate by taking classes like Healthcare Finance and Healthcare Strategy in the School of Public Health.

Finding the right balance of business and clinical skills has led Aneel to a few surprising insights about himself. “As a psychiatrist, I lead with empathy in my patient relationships, but my coursework here in leadership skills highlighted the importance of consistency and authenticity in all of my relationships—with colleagues and even my family. This is not just a lesson I will carry forward, it is a reminder that everyone can keep on learning and be a Student Always.”

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Posted on May 23, 2024
Susan Petty
Susan is Director of Admissions for the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. She has nearly twenty years of experience in marketing and advertising, having worked in several different industries including technology, travel, healthcare -- and many others from her media planning days at J. Walter Thompson where her clients included Chevron, Kaiser Permanente, Nestle, and Ford. She enjoys advising prospective students and guiding them through their personal MBA experience.