Global Business School for Health


Spotlight on MSc student Nayol Santos: journey and experience

10 January 2024

Discover our MSc student Nayol Santos's journey. We interviewed Nayol and highlighted her experience at GBSH, providing insight for prospective students.

Nayol Santos

Student Name: Nayol Santos

Programme: MSc Global Healthcare Management (Leadership)
Nationality: Portuguese/ British

Education:  Nurse and Midwife

Work Experience: Nursing and Midwifery

1.    Tell me more about your background. 

I am a nurse and a midwife with 13 years of experience working in maternity services, mainly in the UK NHS and the private sector in Spain.

I paused nursing for a year to commit to the MSc in Global Healthcare Management full-time, and since then, I have been working on setting up a digital hub for women to learn and be supported in caring for their sexual health. 

2.    What was your main motivation for enrolling in this Programme at GBSH? 

I enrolled in the MSc programme because I wanted to mature as a leader and gain confidence in contributing and guiding others in healthcare transformation and innovation projects. 
I wanted to learn core business topics such as financing, policy, strategy, and innovation. Despite being the foundation for leadership and management roles, my previous academic education in health and sciences programmes did not explore them. 

I was also excited to build a business project from scratch and see ideas turning into viable health products. As a nurse and midwife, I did not think I could work on the business side of health or that I would ever be called into a room where people create new health products or technologies. I joined the programme hoping to learn leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship skills and contribute to global efforts to improve health quality and healthcare services.  

3.    Could you share the types of career support you received while at GBSH and how specifically these resources or initiatives have contributed to your career progression?

Career support began very early on at the UCL. Before the MSc started, students gained access to a free UCL Careers course called Masters Careers Essentials, which was valuable to understanding the overall career support resources available and how to plan your career journey alongside completing your studies. I also had a few one-on-one meetings with UCL career consultants to explore my options and how to position myself in the labour market best. 

GBSH organised several events throughout the year, such as career fairs, workshops with consultant specialists and networking events to engage with specialists in the health industry. 

The most invaluable career support I received came from the professors and tutors who took the time to listen to my ambitions and motivations, guided me towards exciting projects, and made introductions to people who aligned with my area of interest. 

4.    What value will your programme add to your career moving forward?

The programme met my expectations, giving me leadership confidence and health sector business acumen. 

Moving forward, the MSc education will allow me to participate in health discussions and projects with method and decisiveness. I can combine my clinical knowledge and understanding of system thinking, health policy, strategy, and innovation to offer a holistic and integrative view of health issues. I also gained further appreciation for my nursing skills of empathy, listening, and collaborative working, which are critical to excelling in leadership and management. 

Healthcare is an ever-evolving field, and it is impossible to know everything. However, the programme taught me how to research, present evidence and argue facts in a way that is relevant and with practical application, which I will carry on doing in my future roles.  

5.    How did your studies at GBSH contribute to your ability to secure your current position?

I am a resident startup founder at the UCL Innovation & Enterprise incubator and accelerator, the Hatchery. It is an incredibly nurturing and stimulating environment for UCL students and alumni to develop and scale new businesses with growth potential and impactful aspirations.

Being a GBSH student not only opened access to invaluable UCL programmes, resources, and societies but also to the entrepreneurial components of the MSc and the exercises on market research, business feasibility, and risk assessments, which supported a more robust application to the Hatchery.

6.    Can you share a specific course during your MSc that you feel was instrumental in preparing you for your current role?

I have many favourite courses, but I enjoyed Strategic Healthcare Leadership. My takeaway from the course and humble outlook is that if you understand strategy, you can combine all business areas harmoniously and coherently in a designed trajectory to success. You may not be able to implement it, but you can bring together the team, partnerships and resources needed. And that is empowering for a new startup founder like me. 

7.    Could you share any memorable experiences from your MSc Global Healthcare Management programme that have had a lasting impact on your career?

There are many memorable experiences. It was an incredible year. 

One of my favourites was a guest lecture from Prof. Jonathan Passmore on the course Coaching and Mentoring for Healthcare Leaders, led by Dr Jummy Okoya. They talked about coaching as a way of living. Effective listening is difficult to practice, but this lecture offered a masterclass on using listening to identify and elevate other people’s strengths in every conversation. Seeing an opportunity to grow in each encounter is a powerful thinking tool, especially during tough discussions.  

8.    How did your MSc degree from GBSH give you an edge in the competitive job market?

As I said before, as healthcare evolves, the ability to think and act systematically and strategically gives you an advantage in supporting health transformation and innovation. 

Undeniably, the reputation and recognition of the first-class education offered by an institution such as UCL is attractive in the labour market. But the direct access to the best in the field experts from both academia and industry and the supervision, mentoring and advisory relationships built are the greatest assets GBSH students can use to secure their ideal jobs and post-academic projects. 

I particularly benefited from being part of a community of students and alumni with majors from different disciplines and diverse interests in the health sector. It was eye-opening to discover numerous ways to tackle healthcare issues and how opportunities in health innovation are more robust with the input of clinical and non-clinical thinkers. 

9.    What advice do you have for current and prospective students seeking a rewarding job placement after graduation?

I suggest aligning the MSc assignments with your career goals and developing academic work that answers the questions or resolves real problems from your ideal workplace. It is a way of showing that you are serious about the impact you want to make, practising the skills you need to do your ideal job and demonstrating how your education is applicable in the real world. 

10.    Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently at GBSH to improve your career prospects further?

I would have spent more time completing the UCL Masters Careers Essential training, set some broad career goals from day one, and prepared an elevator pitch on my career ambitions, ready to be delivered on any networking occasion. 
Expressing where you want to be in a year is daunting. Often, we start the MSc to discover what to do next in the first place! But taking some time to reflect on the reasons that led us to pursue higher education and your career aspiration can be a north star on a challenging and arduous journey. 

Also, being able to tell concisely and purposefully where you are and where you want to help others understand how they can help you achieve your goals. Every day at UCL is an opportunity to network. You never know how your peers, study tutor, guest lecturer, or ping-pong buddy can support or sponsor your ambitions, so talking purposefully about your career on any occasion can be surprisingly proliferous. I wish I had done more of that as a student, but I am learning and practising it now. 

11.    What are your long-term career goals? How does your MSc from GBSH and your current work align with these goals?

Great follow-up question – let me see if I have been practising enough. 

My long-term goal is to increase equity in healthcare for women from diverse backgrounds, regardless of their literacy level. I aspire to spend the next ten years working to empower women to make informed health decisions and own healthier, happier lives through advocacy, awareness initiatives, and building the health products women need and want. 

Completing the MSc from the GBSH and joining the UCL startup incubator set the foundation for the journey ahead by giving me the confidence and skills to understand and navigate the complexities and gender disparities of healthcare systems and the resources and support network to develop entrepreneurial ventures. 

12.    What advice would you give prospective students considering applying for your programme?

 Please do it! Go for it with purpose, passion and method. Be clear and bold on the impact you want to have in the health sector and how the MSc can support you on that journey. Good luck!