DeGroote MBA works with health-care partners to train future health leaders

Health-care employers are increasingly turning to DeGroote School of Business MBA Co-op students.

Employer partners in the health-care sector give DeGroote MBA Co-op students a chance to showcase their knowledge, skills, and leadership potential in a professional setting.


by Andrew Baulcomb, Communications Officer, DeGroote School of Business

Doctors treat patients. Business leaders treat patient frameworks. There’s an increasing need for both to excel in Canada’s health-care sector.

The link between health and business is especially prominent in the country’s largest city, Toronto. It’s here that MBA candidates from the DeGroote School of Business are being tapped to lead complex projects and make a notable difference in the workplace.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), is the largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital in Canada, with multiple facilities in downtown Toronto. It’s also one of the world’s leading addiction research centres. And it looks to DeGroote for its student internships: The hospital has hired more than a dozen DeGroote MBA Co-op students as interns in the past two years.

“DeGroote MBA students come prepared with a level of professionalism well suited to the workplace,” says Jacqueline Phan, Senior Manager, Enterprise Project Management Office and IT Education at CAMH.

“The School has a good reputation for a high-quality MBA program,” Phan continues. “Business students have an opportunity in this current landscape to leave a true mark on the future of health-care delivery. As a publicly funded health system, Canada’s health services will continue to benefit from strong partnerships between clinical and business experts.”

DeGroote is also forging new partnerships at St. Michael’s Hospital in the heart of Toronto. Here, MBA candidate Stephanie Ebreo, 29, has recently been involved in integrating the hospital’s microbiology lab with a similar facility at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. New opportunities to learn come up all the time, Ebreo says. She even had a chance to shadow the Chief Medical Officer on one of his shifts in the emergency department.

“I think it’s important that this generation of business leaders is ready and willing to disrupt the status quo,” says Ebreo, one of 82 DeGroote MBA Co-op candidates to gain experience at St. Michael’s since they became an employer partner in 1994.

“The first step toward invoking real change is to gain a thorough understanding of the system’s history, intricacies, limitations, challenges, and successes from all perspectives,” Ebreo says. “Only then will we be positioned to bring our knowledge, creativity, and new schools of thought to action.”

As an academic hospital, “St. Mike’s recognizes the importance of supporting and developing the next generation of health-care leaders,” says Jason Manayathu, Manager, Strategy and Corporate Planning at St. Michael’s Hospital.

“Just as medical students complete a residency as part of their training, we have an administrative resident role at St. Michael’s that allows graduate-level students the opportunity to work with a variety of areas across the organization,” he adds. “Projects range from supporting the development of strategy to improving processes in partnership with clinical teams.”

Manayathu says he looks for students who are passionate about making an impact, are comfortable problem-solving in new and challenging situations, and have genuine curiosity and willingness to learn. That often means turning to DeGroote. Manayathu says the school’s MBA Co-op stream, which operates year-round, is “very convenient” for employers who want to select the best possible candidates at any time.

Since 2013, the Hospital for Sick Children  has recruited numerous DeGroote MBA candidates to assist with a variety of hands-on assignments. They’ve also contributed to key strategic projects in areas such as health system integration, process improvement, strategy management, and international health care.

“As a DeGroote MBA grad, I am delighted that we have McMaster as one of our partners,” says Kelly McMillen, Director of the Learning Institute at SickKids. “DeGroote students have consistently demonstrated professionalism, along with a desire to contribute and an eagerness to learn. We’ve been impressed with the knowledge, skills, and energy that DeGroote students bring to our organization.”

Olivia Allega, 26, worked in clinical research at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton for five yearsbefore entering the DeGroote MBA program. She’s passionate about enhancing the clinical and administrative operations of hospitals, and knew she would gain invaluable experience with a placement at SickKids.

“I come from a science and research background, so I was lacking the business acumen needed to successfully work in an administrative role in health care,” Allega explains. “Coupled with a traditional in-class education, the MBA Co-­op program has been essential in equipping me with the skills and competencies necessary to transition from student to professional.”

Right now, her time is split between SickKids’ Corporate Strategy Office and the Process Improvement and Innovation (PI&I) team. The Corporate Strategy Office works on large-scale initiatives that evolve the strategic objectives of the hospital, while the PI&I team works on various projects that evaluate the current state of a process in order to improve quality and efficiency.

DeGroote MBA candidates are also making an impact on local health-care delivery. Last summer, Full-time MBA candidate Brian Banh was recruited by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to assist with a number of projects. Over the course of four months, he took on a network-level strategic cost savings project, a system-level audit for senior-friendliness in St. Joseph’s hospitals, and several clinic-level process improvement projects.

While at the hospital, which has sites in the downtown core and on the Hamilton Mountain, Banh says he was given an opportunity to meet one-on-one with members of the senior leadership team. This allowed him to gain valuable insight into the inner workings of a major health-care facility.

“I grew up around health care, given that my mother is a pharmacist and owns her own practice,” says the 26-year-old. “My choice to take on a role in health care and erode inefficiencies stems from a belief that everyone has a right to a healthy life or a second chance at life, should they need it.”

For decades, DeGroote’s MBA program has given students the opportunity to showcase their knowledge, skills, and leadership potential in a professional setting. The success of the program is due in large part to the strong partnerships with employers across Canada. The hiring process is overseen by the School’s Career and Professional Development (CPD) team, which facilitates students gaining hands-on experience with some of the country’s top employers.

“We know how important it is for students to gain work experience and build their networks before entering the workforce,” says Cynthia Bishop, Manager of Career and Professional Development. “That’s what we’re here to facilitate. Professional development is a crucial aspect of a DeGroote education.”

“The DeGroote MBA program fosters a strong community of professionals,” Banh agrees. “It’s an environment in which students can ideate, collaborate, and learn from each other. It’s also an environment in which students can share past experiences, and support each other in their professional endeavors.”

Career and Professional Development (CPD) is a dedicated team of professionals focused on providing excellent career development services to DeGroote students and employer partners. CPD helps students gain important real world experience and help prepare them to be valuable contributors in the work force. Learn more on the CPD website.

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