Global Business School for Health


Spotlight On: Dr Marzena Nieroda, Lecturer in Marketing and Commercialisation at UCL GBSH

15 June 2022

We speak to Dr Marzena Nieroda, Lecturer in Marketing and Commercialisation at UCL's Global Business School for Health, about her career, academic interests and why she's excited to be joining the UCL GBSH team.

Man at table with cup of tea

Tell me more about your background – It would be great to find out more about your education and career so far.

Prior to joining the Global Business School for health at UCL I was a Lecturer in Marketing at Alliance Manchester Business School at the University of Manchester, where I also obtained my PhD in Marketing.  

My journey with marketing began in the USA, where I pursued my MSc in International Marketing degree at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Growing up in Poland after the fall of the communist regime, I hadn’t had much exposure to sophisticated marketing initiatives, so moving to the USA was a fascinating experience for me. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of all the marketing principles and pursuing postgraduate studies enabled me to do so. 

As I delved deeper into the scope and commercial applications of marketing, in the USA, UK, Poland and through various international experiences, I realised there is an amazing opportunity to put marketing principles to good use in the healthcare context. While working at the University of Manchester I met inspiring colleagues from various schools across the university, many developing various health interventions, aiming to address the challenges associated with the ageing population, disease prevention, and management of chronic diseases. Learning about their work I realised that marketing could be a very powerful tool in facilitating public awareness of many ground-breaking health interventions that could have the potential to impact individual behaviours (e.g., encourage various preventative and health promotion behaviours), thus mitigating risks of future diseases and improve people’s quality of life, and potentially enhance longevity. Rapid developments in technology and its accessibility for various health services open those opportunities further, as it enables us to reach more diverse groups of people in more resource-efficient and effective ways. 

Once I started exploring the potential of marketing and commercialisation in healthcare, I realised the impact this type of work could make on society. I knew I would want to pursue this research avenue in my future career.  

Why are you excited to be joining the UCL Global Business School for Health?

Considering my passion and interests, the opportunity to join UCL Global Business School for Health (GBSH) was my dream come true. GBSH is the world’s first business school dedicated solely to health. Learning more about the school, its goals, and objectives, I felt that being part of the GBSH team would enable me to pursue my research interests and could hopefully enable me to contribute to academic efforts that could make a real difference in the wider society. 
With a background in marketing, I see the importance of making sure that the customer or service user is at the heart of every product or service offered. Mainstream marketing has done a tremendous job in tailoring and personalising various products and services to different stages of different journeys individuals can be in throughout their lifetime. In the healthcare context, there is still some work to be done to achieve similar precision. 

Considering the relevance of healthcare interventions, the focus of research efforts has been on developing solutions that could bring about optimal health outcomes for individuals, healthcare systems and society in general. However, some of the solutions might be perceived by individuals as interfering with their personal lifestyles, taking away some valuable family or quality time, and potentially requiring too much effort from them. In such cases, many of the innovative health solutions end up being rejected. 

However, there is scope to design healthcare solutions fitting different lifestyles, needs and user requirements. There is scope to work on ensuring the health solutions (that is health interventions or recommendations), as well as their benefits to individuals, are well understood. There is scope to optimise customer or user experiences along their lifetime journeys, whenever it leads.  If successful, such efforts could help people build healthy habits, maintain them, and achieve long-lasting health benefits. 

I am excited to invest all my efforts into exploring how healthcare solutions, either provided within the public or commercial domain are easier to understand, accept and embed into people’s daily lives.

What are you most excited to teach the first cohort of UCL GBSH students?

I am very excited to explain to students’ the principles of marketing and commercialisation in the healthcare context. Marketing is focused on understanding how to deliver value to a customer or service user. Existing frameworks enable healthcare managers to do a marketing audit with the focus on the customer or user needs, not only those related solely to health, but those where health needs interact with everyday activities, lifestyles, or social demands. For instance, in the context of behaviour change interventions, through the lens of marketing, we can explore how to make various health interventions fit with the busy lifestyles of individuals and help them transform encouraged behaviours into healthy habits. 

This trend of customer or service user focus is further encouraged by recent developments in technology. Many commercial companies enter health services ecosystem offering various sensors, devices and tools that are designed to help individuals achieve better health outcomes. This is often achieved by enabling monitoring of activity or vital metrics, encouraging engagement with the recommended activity or enabling physician-patient communication and shared decision making. Such solutions are designed to enhance service users’ proactivity in relation to their own health and wellbeing. 

I am very excited to have the pleasure to teach and work with the first cohort of students continuing their learning journey at UCL GBSH - a brand-new school. I sense a similar feeling of excitement among my GBSH colleagues. To me personally, it is very important that our students not only have great learning experiences at UCL GBSH, but upon completion of their degrees they can start transforming healthcare access, experience, and outcomes across the world. 

Is healthcare management an area more business schools should be exploring? If so, why?

Healthcare management is of growing importance to society, especially after the coronavirus pandemic. Business schools with their approach to understanding and managing various stakeholders have unique resources to explore this healthcare management. 

Before the pandemic, healthcare systems were facing many challenges related to managing an ageing population, the prevalence of mental health issues, and attempts to expand life expectancy. In the post-COVID-19 world, where healthcare resources are even scarcer and our health and immunity more fragile, we are likely to see a shift toward more sustainable management and delivery of healthcare services. Sustainable healthcare services will require more resources to be channelled into encouraging services that support health promotion and disease prevention, helping individuals to avoid or delay future diseases. Many of such services are likely to come from commercial companies. 

The healthcare ecosystem is transitioning rapidly and there are many players involved in it. To explore and optimise heath systems and health solutions for improved health outcomes, a multi-stakeholder approach is needed. Such an approach will require an understanding of various health interventions, optimising it to interact with patients or customers, embedding it within offerings of public and commercial healthcare providers, and enabling data-driven approaches to enable constant progress and improvement in the precision of health solutions. Organisations driving such solutions will also need leadership and management approaches that will foster the progress. Business schools are very well equipped to explore, understand, and manage such progress. 

What contribution do you want to bring to the school and future students?

For the GBSH, I would like to do what I can in helping the school to achieve its goals and objectives. I hope to contribute to creating collaborative multidisciplinary work and research environment where all ideas, questions, challenges, or doubts can be discussed, considered and addressed for the most impactful outcomes. Just as I would like my students to recognise unique customer or user needs, I will try to bring that view to many research projects, so that any healthcare solution that is designed and developed by the GBSH team can deliver true value to users, whoever they might be. 

For our students, I would like them to be able to evaluate any health solution through a customer lens.  I tend to use marketing principles to understand how to meet customer needs and help them solve problems they might face in their daily lives. For some people being urged to change their behaviour can be a problem itself, and students should recognise this might be the case for some individuals. I would like to equip students with market research and decision-making skills and principles so that they are able to develop healthcare solutions that are perceived by individuals as a true solution to various problems they might face throughout their lifespan.