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My journey from healthcare in Brazil to a full-time MBA in the UK

Bianca Ponso Ferrari, Full-time MBA Class of 2021, writes about her decision to pursue an MBA with a nursing background

The path I walked before coming to an MBA in the UK was not a traditional one, though to my surprise when I got to know my peers from the AMBS class of 2021, I was not the only one with a not-so-common background for a business school. Following five years of study – four in the nursing school and one specializing in nursing service management – I started working as a nurse in the largest private and public hospitals in São Paulo, Brazil. I chose this profession because I am passionate about helping people and delivering healthcare access to those who need the most.

Working in hospitals, I experienced highly demanding work environments and understood the importance of developing team synergy through communication and interpersonal skills. Moreover, I learned that improving processes is essential to avoid errors and improve quality, especially when the bottom line is the life of a patient.

Four years later I had the opportunity of experiencing what was going to represent the first big shift in my career: leaving the direct care aspect of my profession to become a clinical consultant for a multinational medical devices company. It revealed a yet hidden passion for business, particularly marketing and sales.

Over the course of a couple of years, I provided educational activities to internal sales teams and liaised with surgeons and nurses providing them scientific support. Later, I worked in sales positions in two different stages: the first, strategizing and implementing an entry plan to a new segment (the post-acute sector) and the second, managing sales for premium hospitals in the country.

These experiences broadened my perspectives and made me realize I was accomplishing my purpose of helping patients in a much more impactful way. I introduced groundbreaking technologies to surgeons and other healthcare professionals that could use them to save hundreds of lives, and I genuinely enjoyed that.

I was pretty satisfied with my career by that time and I even had an offer to be promoted for a senior sales position. However, I felt something was missing. I was lucky enough to be inspired by senior leaders that I admired for their well-rounded global business knowledge. I understood that if I wanted to be part of the future leadership generation I had to refine my business knowledge through formal education and practical experience in an international business landscape. I decided to start a new endeavour as an MBA student. It characterized the second big shift in my career.

Finding the right school

While searching for universities with suitable MBA programmes for me, I considered the following factors: location, alumni network, career development services, and value for money.

In 2018 I met a director of admissions from AMBS in Brazil. She helped me clarifying doubts, and helped me see that AMBS fulfilled my decision criteria especially when it came to the quality of career services and value for money.

Each MBA student here is known personally by the consultants from the career service cohort. In the very early stages of the programme, they help us develop a personalized career plan. Moreover, there is no shortage of companies coming on campus for networking and recruiting events. Fortunately for me, many of them are big players within the healthcare industry. The business school also receives on-campus consulting companies that are leaders within the healthcare and life sciences businesses.

Regarding value for money, a huge catalyst to my decision of coming for an MBA was being awarded a Forté Foundation scholarship. The Forté Foundation offers scholarships and fellowships for women with great career potential pursuing MBA degrees at the world’s top-ranked business schools. As a Forté fellow, I have access to an excellent network of contacts, business events and conferences, and also mentorship opportunities. It is amazing to be part of a community full of like-minded women supporting each other.

As I mentioned before, I saw that my class has a huge diversity not only in terms of culture but also related to educational background: besides business and finance professionals, there are business owners, third sector, IT, law, and aerospace industry professionals, to name a few. Working with my peers across different projects and competition groups has provided incredible learning opportunities.

Another highlight of the AMBS MBA for me are the partnerships it has with other top-ranked universities in the world. Not only can MBA students study a range of elective options at AMBS' global centres, they can also opt for an exchange programme at business schools around the world. I will be doing my exchange programme in the United States, where I will join the University of Southern California’s (USC) Marshall MBA during the autumn term. This will be another great academic experience, and also a huge opportunity to participate in company events in another country.

Fortunately, the AMBS admissions team has done great work on finding the right people to form our class. I feel like I’m in a safe learning environment where I can share and learn from my peers in every interaction. During class and group discussions, every opinion and experience counts.

Being here has been a life-changing experience and I would advise people with healthcare backgrounds or those interested in working for the health-related sector to come for an MBA. The health sector, including life sciences and biotechnology, is extremely competitive as it is experiencing fast-paced development. Deepening financial and strategic business knowledge is necessary to succeed in this setting. Hence, enrolling in an MBA will certainly put you forward to achieve a good position in this evolving sector.

Finally, I think choosing an MBA is a hard process for everyone: there are lots of doubts and insecurities, and it requires a certain amount of courage. We need to be open-minded enough to have our views challenged. We have to be humble enough to learn from our peers and build confidence to share our expertise in order to provide fresh perspectives to our classmates. However, it opens a world of opportunities for growth and learning, which makes me excited about all the even greater experiences that are yet to come in the remaining 13 months of the MBA programme.

Learn more about the AMBS Full-time MBA here >>