Global Business School for Health


EMBA Health Student Interview: Oshani Dissanayake

15 March 2024

Meet Oshani Dissanayake, an EMBA Health student at UCL GBSH. From clinician to future leader in healthcare, delve into her motivations, remote learning insights, and how the program shapes her career trajectory. Explore her journey further in this student interview.

Oshani EMBA

1. What motivated you to pursue the UCL EMBA Health programme?

My journey as a clinician over the past decade has been profoundly rewarding, offering deep insights into patient care and the intricacies of healthcare delivery. However, I increasingly recognised a critical gap in my understanding of the business and financial underpinnings that drive healthcare systems. This realisation sparked my interest in pursuing an Executive MBA, with a specific focus on the health sector.

The UCL EMBA Health programme stood out as an ideal platform for its comprehensive curriculum is designed to bridge the divide between clinical practice and the strategic management of healthcare services. This aligned perfectly with my aspiration to understand and influence the operational and financial mechanisms that underpin effective healthcare delivery. I was particularly drawn to the programme’s emphasis on real-world applications and its commitment to fostering leadership skills that can navigate the complexities of global health systems in order to have a wider impact on the field.

2. How has the UCL EMBA Health programme enhanced your skills and knowledge in the field of healthcare management, considering the remote learning environment?

Halfway through the first year of the two-year UCL EMBA Health programme, my understanding of healthcare management has increased significantly. The curriculum, covering strategy, leadership, marketing, organisational behaviour, financial planning, and economics, has provided me with a comprehensive toolkit, that I did not previous have nor understand. These concepts, explored through case studies and simulations, are already being applied in my workplace, sparking valuable discussions with leadership, and enhancing my contribution to our organisation.

The remote learning format has been uniquely beneficial, allowing me to balance my professional responsibilities with my studies. This flexibility enables real-time application of theoretical knowledge, enriched by insights from a diverse cohort of colleagues on the course. As I anticipate the upcoming residential weeks, I'm eager to further this learning experience in a more collaborative in-person setting.

So far, the programme has not only broadened my knowledge base, but sharpened my strategic thinking and leadership skills, directly impacting my professional practice in healthcare.

3. Can you share some highlights of your academic and professional background before enrolling in the online EMBA Health programme?

I am an alumnus of UCL Medical School, having graduated as a doctor a decade ago. Currently, I am completing my higher specialty training in Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in London, with a keen interest in global health challenges. I have taken time of my training to undertake some research endeavours, achieved further academic milestones with postgraduate medical diplomas, and embraced the opportunity to deliver care in resource-limited settings through Médicins Sans Frontières. 

4. As an online EMBA student, what advantages do you find in studying remotely, and how do you manage your time effectively in balancing work, study, and personal commitments?

Pursuing any postgraduate course, especially an MBA can be demanding. The intensity of managing full-time work, studies, assignments, and the MBA's contact hours has not been without challenge, but it manageable with careful planning. To navigate this, I have taken a pause from my clinical training program, which lacked the flexibility necessary for attending lectures. Instead, I continue to practice as a doctor inpatient general medicine full time, adjusting my work hours to accommodate my studies. This balancing act, while demanding, is not insurmountable. It requires substantial commitment, a sentiment echoed by my peers, who are also juggling full-time jobs alongside their EMBA pursuits.

5. Can you describe any specific experiences from your online EMBA Health programme that have had a significant impact on your learning and professional development?

The incorporation of real-life case studies, particularly those focusing on medtech companies, alongside comprehensive competitive simulation programs over several months, has significantly enriched my learning experience. These methodologies enabled me to apply complex concepts from Strategy, Organizational Behaviour, Finance, and Economics within tangible, real-world scenarios.

A standout experience was the simulation program that cast us in the roles of hospital executives, responsible for the intricate balance of financial, capacity, and staff planning. This immersive exercise offered profound insights into the operational complexities of hospital management, bridging the gap between my clinical background and the strategic acumen required for executive leadership. Such practical engagements have not only broadened my understanding of healthcare administration from both clinician and executive viewpoints but have also equipped me with the tools to navigate and influence the healthcare landscape more effectively.

6. What advice would you give to prospective students considering applying to the online EMBA Health programme?

I would recommend this course for those interested in or currently engaged within the healthcare sector. The unparalleled value of this program lies in the diversity and depth of knowledge that peers bring to the table—individuals who come with vast expertise and decades of real-world leadership experience across various fields. Balancing the commitments of the EMBA with a full-time job presents challenges, and careful planning is needed to keep on top of both.

Although this program is new, there are fewer networking opportunities compared to more established MBA schools, however its unique focus on healthcare provides an unmatched, specialised perspective. 

7. How do you engage with the online learning community and faculty members to foster a collaborative learning environment and maximise your learning outcomes?

The faculty's responsiveness and accessibility have been great, given that this is a brand-new course there have been teething issues, but they have been very supportive of feedback. Our EMBA cohort, consisting of approximately 25 professionals, has cultivated a close-knit community through initial online interactions and collaborative group work. This camaraderie has been further deepened by regular social events several times a term, allowing us to forge personal connections beyond the academic setting. These have enrichedour network and created a supportive learning experience.

8. Lastly, what are your future career aspirations, and how is the EMBA Health programme helping you shape your career trajectory

Answering this question is unexpectedly challenging, as the EMBA has already significantly broadened my perspective, unveiling opportunities I had never previously considered. It ignited a keen interest in Strategy and Organizational behaviour, areas of interest that were entirely new to me. My immediate plan involves completing my remaining years of medical training and pursuing a PhD in Microbiology. Armed with this specialised knowledge and the expansive business and leadership insights gained from the EMBA, I am eager to leverage these skills to profoundly influence patient care and global health. Whether through policy reform or strategic healthcare initiatives, my goal is to utilise this unique blend of expertise to make a meaningful impact on healthcare outcomes worldwide.

Learn more about EMBA Health here