Global Business School for Health


Spotlight On: Professor Julie Davies, Director of the UCL MBA Health

22 January 2023

We speak to Dr Julie Davies, Director of the new UCL MBA Health programme at the UCL Global Business School for Health (GBSH), all about her role, and why she's so excited to be joining this cutting-edge business school.

julie davies picture

The UCL Global Business School for Health (GBSH) welcomes Professor Julie Davies (@JulieDaviesUK) as Director of the new UCL MBA Health programme. Julie has significant senior leadership experience in business and management education. She joins UCL from her role as a Reader in the Centre for Decent Work and Productivity at Manchester Metropolitan University. Previously, Julie was Deputy Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools where she initiated and directed the International Deans’ Programme. Julie has delivered the Open University’s MBA for 27 years. Earlier in her career, she managed UCL’s Department of Chemistry and Queen’s Anniversary Prize-winning postgraduate distance programmes in finance and economics at SOAS.

Professor Davies is strongly committed to improvements in the health sector and to supporting health and well-being more broadly. She is a trustee of Kirkwood Hospice and her current research includes projects on the transitions of advanced clinical practitioners as well as early pregnancy endings at work. Julie has led research projects on A&E workforce re-design and human resource management in regional small and medium-sized enterprises. Formerly, in the NHS in central London Julie was seconded to the change management team for the opening of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. 

Julie earned a PhD in strategic management at Warwick University and completed an MBA and an MA in Education, all while working full-time. She also has undergraduate degrees in law and in modern languages and experience as an executive coach. Julie is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Higher Education Academy, and Association of University Administrators. Additionally, she co-chairs UFHRD’s research committee and she is a member of EFMD’s doctoral programmes steering committee. Julie is an Associate Editor of Human Resource Development Review and has published in journals such as Academy of Management Learning & Education; Employee Relations; Gender, Work & Organization; Journal of Business Research; Journal of Small Business Management; Stress and Health as well as Nature Index and the LSE Impact of Social Science blog. Julie’s co-authored Routledge book Leading Business Schools will be published in 2022. 

We spoke with Julie to find out more about her and the new MBA Health:

What has motivated you to take on the role of UCL GBSH’s MBA Director? 

UCL is 8th in the world in the 2022 QS World University Rankings and it’s a fantastic place to work and study. This role is a unique opportunity for me to re-join UCL and to develop high-quality healthcare leadership capacity. I’m a firm believer that health is wealth. I’m looking forward to working with socially responsible and entrepreneurial individuals and teams who can make a positive impact on healthcare systems globally. UCL is a first-class university in a world-class city and the Global Business School for Health is based in amazing new UCL East facilities in the Olympic Park. This role draws on my extensive experiences of delivering MBA programmes in triple-accredited business schools, my research on management education and health, and my passion for excellent leadership development across disciplines in a sector that affects all our lives.  

Why should people study a specialist MBA in health?

Health now accounts for more than 10% of the global Gross Domestic Product. A specialist MBA in health provides a solid grounding to work in this dynamic and rapidly growing sector, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The UCL MBA Health is a flagship programme that enables managers, clinicians, business specialists and others interested in health to develop the competencies that you would expect from a traditional MBA. At the same time, a specialist MBA in health supports careers in healthcare management, policy, or consultancy in not-for-profit or private sectors. At UCL GBSH, students focus on applying their skills to the global health sector where there is a huge demand for leadership to drive rapid changes and transformation to add immediate real-world value. Students’ learning experiences, networks, and support from executives in residence, as well as career coaches and others, are all designed to develop T-shaped graduates. Our graduates will develop a breadth of understanding about global health care systems as well as an in-depth understanding of specific business and health management topics. For example, value-based healthcare, climate and health, digital innovations and cost-effective quality improvements using AI and big data.

So, we welcome people to study the UCL MBA Health to accelerate their competencies, connections, confidence, and careers in health and business. It’s a great blend of world-class academia and opportunities to develop practical business skills in a fast-growing sector. 
Which elements of the ULC MBA Health programme are you most excited about and why?

The Global Health Challenge and the Health Consultancy Project are particularly exciting.

For the Global Health Challenge, students undertake a two-week immersion in small teams engaged in a hands-on project to tackle a real-world business issue in health. This is an action learning challenge to develop research and consulting skills. It leads to a group research paper and presentation for stakeholders in a low- or middle-income country such as in India, Nigeria, or the MENA region. This project involves team collaborations with fellow students, UCL experts, and overseas partners. It helps to bridge knowing-doing gaps with students applying their learning to real-world challenges through impactful research and capacity building. Importantly, the Global Health Challenge helps to develop students’ collaboration skills working across disciplines and functions by exposing them to different cultures to enhance their career outcomes. 

The Health Consultancy Project at the end of the MBA enables students to identify a health sector client for hands-on consulting experience. This is designed to fit their career goals. The ambition is for the student to identify and shape the project with the client and develop academic and professional skills for personal and professional development. Students present a report on a specific health/business challenge that delivers tangible outcomes for the client.

There’s a lot of criticism about “vanilla” MBAs where learning is mainly confined to the classroom and historical case studies. The UCL MBA Health is a highly supportive, intellectually challenging, and personally and professionally rewarding experience with a valuable alumni network in a specialist field. 

Overall, I’m really excited about the multiple opportunities in the MBA to develop a dynamic community of students, alumni, experts, and networks for co-producing useful knowledge and solutions in the healthcare sector. 
What career and networking opportunities will this programme offer students?

Each student will engage with a careers coach throughout the MBA. Students will also work with executives in residence who are specialists in the health industry. Students benefit from close engagement with leading health care specialists at UCL and with our partners globally. The MBA Health is designed to accommodate students’ personal interests and expose them to fieldwork and research and consultancy projects as well as networking events with regular guest speakers. These opportunities enable students to build mutually beneficial professional and personal relationships for knowledge exchange and collaborations as well as career opportunities globally. 

What aspects of the programme can prospective students look forward to?

The two-week induction and three-day off-campus residency will kick-start students’ personal and professional development journeys on the MBA. The four-week blocks are taught by experts who work with students to apply knowledge about specific disciplines to real-world health scenarios and case studies. One-to-one and team career coaching, leadership development, and networking opportunities during the MBA are invaluable. Importantly, the inclusive and disruptive ethos of UCL, with its progressive history and positive impact and custom-built UCL East facilities, offer unique opportunities for students to flourish during the MBA and after graduation.  

How do you see the UCL MBA Health shaping the careers of students? 

The MBA Health is designed to accelerate careers by exposing students to a range of experiences and networking to develop in-depth knowledge and skills in the sector. Students who are clinicians may continue as clinicians in health care management and leadership roles. Other students may decide to become hospital or health services managers and leaders, policy analysts or researchers, or to develop their goals as entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector. MBA in health graduates can work in private medical practices, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, social care, residential care services, and they can establish start-ups. They may also wish to study for a doctorate after the UCL MBA Health. There is a diverse range of exciting careers and opportunities to change career direction with the support of careers coaches, executives in residence, and mentors and sponsors through valuable networks at UCL GBSH.   

What are you looking for in MBA applicants? What type of people do you think should apply to the programme?

We welcome applicants who meet the academic and English requirements with some work experience which may include voluntary work and experiences at university. Most importantly, we are looking for a positive attitude and critical and analytical thinking – people who are curious to develop personally and professionally. We are interested in applicants who are passionate about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. People who are open to new experiences and networks that will support their future careers in health will benefit from this programme. The UCL MBA Health at UCL GBSH is a life-changing experience. We want the MBA to be fun and for students to enjoy UCL student life, especially the amazing cultural and other opportunities that studying in London and undertaking fieldwork offer. 
How do you think the pandemic has impacted the relationship between business and health?

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown the imperative for healthcare providers, businesses, investors, entrepreneurs, civil servants, and politicians to collaborate during a public health crisis. Kate Bingham, the venture capitalist who headed the UK vaccine taskforce which ensured the UK’s supply of vaccines well ahead of many other countries, praised AstraZeneca “heroes” for the way the company picked up an experimental vaccine invented at Oxford University. They worked with the vaccine task force to test, manufacture, and distribute the vaccine at low cost around the world. The pandemic has demonstrated interdependencies between different stakeholders and the need for collaborations between businesses and health care experts to save lives and to keep us safe. 
Why is it important for a business school like the UCL GBSH to be launched now?

The World Health Organization predicts a shortage of 18 million healthcare workers by 2030. We are seeing enormous stress and fatigue in the health sector, and we are still in the thick of the pandemic. Launching the world’s first business school at UCL dedicated to re-imagining global healthcare management for public good is an exciting proposition at the right time and in the right place. We urgently need to equip current and next generations of leaders with the necessary skills to meet the challenges faced by global healthcare systems. Creating a world-leading business school for health in a university that is renowned for research in health is a very important innovation in a landscape where many MBAs appear very similar. 

What impact do you hope the UCL GBSH and UCL MBA Health will have in the future?

UCL GBSH has powerful external and internal advisory boards of strategic leaders who are helping us to ensure that we are impactful in questioning the status quo in healthcare management and improving healthcare systems globally through world-class research and education. Importantly, the UCL East campus has a strong public engagement remit with “fluid zones” to support social, economic, and environmental initiatives in the local community. 

In future, I would like to see UCL MBA Health graduates who positively impact multiple spheres. The example of Sir Patrick Vallance provides an inspiring role model of an outstanding healthcare professional. Patrick was previously Head of the Department of Medicine at UCL. Today, he successfully navigates healthcare management research, practice, and public policy as the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser and Head of Government Science and Engineering Profession. Between his two roles at UCL and in government, Patrick was President of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline. As a clinical pharmacologist, he demonstrates the ability to be credible in academia, industry, government, and in the public domain. 

Do you have any advice for prospective students who may be interested in applying to the UCL MBA Health? 

We strongly advise prospective students to join us at open days and to get in touch to chat with us one-to-one.

There are also very good scholarships at UCL, which prospective students can find out more about here.

The UCL MBA Health is a great opportunity for students to understand their motivations and career development goals in healthcare management and leadership. I advise students to see their application as the start of a career conversation at UCL about their interests, achievements and learning to date. In particular, we are looking for individuals who are committed to pursuing their interests at the intersection of health and business and who are curious about learning from others and about themselves. Prospective students should be enthusiastic about gaining a solid foundation in business and management education and applying their understanding of cutting-edge research and insights into health management to real-world solutions.

We recognise that deciding to embark on an MBA is a major decision. We’re very happy to talk with prospective students and their sponsors about options for joining the MBA Health cohorts at UCL. Prospective students can book a 1-1 meeting with the UCL GBSH team to discuss the UCL MBA Health by emailing contactgbsh@ucl.ac.uk.

Applications for the UCL MBA Health are open

Elevate your ambitions, ignite your earning potential and harness the power of world-class innovators with an MBA that will place you at the cutting edge of health leadership. Learn more about the UCL MBA Health.

Start your application journey now