Applying EMBA Leadership Lessons to Pediatric Healthcare


Pediatric surgeon and Berkeley EMBA student Wolfgang Stehr

When tempers flare in an operating room, lives are at stake. At UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, one pediatric surgeon has been working to ensure a better work experience—and better patient outcomes—by sharing leadership skills gained in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program.

EMBA student Wolfgang Stehr is division chief of pediatric surgery at this hospital treating some 10,000 patients a year. “I wanted to improve the communication among our nurses and doctors, to break down silos, and create a better experience for the patients and staff,” he says. 

Wolfgang found the tools to transform both himself and his team in his executive MBA studies, particularly in the Leadership Communication course, taught by Lecturer Mark Rittenberg, and one of five experiential learning opportunities in the program. By the end of the immersive week, says Wolfgang, "I was so inspired by the work, how it made me think about my colleagues, and even how I felt about the world."

Wolfgang Stehr outside of Children's Hospital

He convinced hospital leadership to offer a three-day workshop for 25 doctors, nurses, and staff, who explored the impact of both verbal and nonverbal communication in the OR.  Chris Newton, trauma director at UCSF Benioff Oakland, who works in the OR with Wolfgang says, “A small percent of the core staff here did this, but those core people are changing the culture of our little world overnight."

Wolfgang and Mark Rittenberg have spoken to doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and plan to continue spreading the word. “We can revolutionize health care through trust and connection with each other,” says Wolfgang. “This can be as powerful as any new procedures, treatments, or antibiotics.”

Read the full story on how Wolfgang used his executive MBA skills to transformative effect. 


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About The Author

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.