Global Business School for Health


Spotlight on MBA student Yuanyuan Xu

8 March 2024

Yuanyuan aims to lead in healthcare marketing with an MBA, leveraging her 10+ years of experience. She values our global perspective, strategic leadership focus, and the chance to impact healthcare on a world stage, preparing for a future as a marketing director and entrepreneur.

Yuanyuan Xu

Student NameYuanyuan Xu

Programme: MBA Health
Nationality: China

Education: Bachelor's in Pharmaceutical Engineering at Shenyang Pharmaceutical University

Work Experience: I have worked for over 10 years in the past. I worked as a sales representative and senior sales representative for 5 years. Additionally, I worked as a regional marketing manager and product manager for 5 years. My main responsibility is to provide efficient solutions to clinical doctors for patients living with cancer.

What was your main motivation for enrolling in the MBA Health Programme at GBSH? 

Mainly because my goal is to be a marketing department leader in a world-leading healthcare company in the future. To realise this ambition, I know I would need to develop excellent leadership, strategic, financial, and people management skills and a global mindset.  
I am therefore interested in exploring a diverse and global MBA programme in health. The MBA Health Programme at GBSH is the first MBA programme related to global health. It is a good chance for me to build relationships with people working in the healthcare industry around the world.

The MBA Health Programme at GBSH is diverse, including students from 14 countries, which is important to enhance my ability to work internationally. 

The Strategy and Leadership module is attractive as these skills are essential for business leaders to lead teams and organisations. Additionally, modules such as Integrating Sustainability into Healthcare Strategies and Contemporary Topics in Health and Healthcare are unique to the UCL Health MBA. They will be informed by the strong partnerships UCL enjoys with institutions on the frontline of public healthcare delivery. Delving into these subject areas in greater depth would benefit my long-term goal of substantially impacting my organisation.

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

My MBA degree from GBSH afforded me a multifaceted advantage in the competitive job market. At first, our business curriculum equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of key business principles spanning strategy, people, marketing, finance, and leadership. This knowledge enabled me to approach complex business challenges with confidence. Apart from that, our course emphasis on practical learning and experiential opportunities, including consulting projects and case studies, provided me with real-world application of theoretical concepts and enhanced my skill set.

UCL has a strong alumni network, and career services offer invaluable networking opportunities. Leveraging these resources, I was able to forge meaningful connections. I believe securing job opportunities that align with my career aspirations would not be hard. Lastly, Candidates with an MBA background are generally considered more competitive. UCL has a prestigious reputation, which further enhanced my marketability.

Could you share the types of career support you received while at GBSH? Were any particular resources, networking opportunities or services you found beneficial?

During the study period at GBSH, I was fortunate to have access to a wide array of career support services to enhance my professional development and job search success.

GBSH provided me with personalised career counselling sessions where I could discuss my career goals, interests, and aspirations with experienced career mentors and professors, such as Hari Kumar, Suzzane Wait, Steve Moore and Egan Carolin. They all have extensive professional experience in the health care industry involving global health policy, marketing and business development. These sessions helped me clarify my career objectives, identify areas for skill development, let me know how to combine my career development with my passion and create actionable plans to achieve my goals.

GBSH offered workshops and seminars on resume writing, cover letter crafting, and job application strategies. These sessions provided valuable insights into crafting tailored resumes and cover letters that effectively highlighted my skills, experiences, and achievements.
I also obtain a lot of help from various networking events and career fairs, where students could engage with alumni, industry professionals, and recruiters. For instance, I reached out to the director of the sustainability department at AstraZeneca, Benjamin Dory, and the lead of data science innovation at Roche, Rebecca Pope. Both of them are kind to provide me some useful industry information. Apart from that, I had a chance to communicate directly with HR at Deloitte from our career fairs, and they gave me their email address to help me check if any positions are suitable for me. These events provided invaluable opportunities to expand my professional network, learn about industry trends, and explore job opportunities in different sectors. 

What value do you feel a UCL MBA Health will add to your career moving forward?

I suppose UCL MBA Health would significantly enhance my career trajectory and provide me with professional skills, knowledge, and networks in the healthcare industry. This program would deepen my understanding of healthcare management, policy, and innovation. This comprehensive knowledge base would equip me with the strategic acumen and analytical skills necessary to navigate the challenges of the rapidly evolving healthcare landscape. 

The UCL MBA Health programme provides numerous opportunities for practical learning, including visiting other countries' healthcare systems, such as Saudi Arabia and India, and researching global challenging issues, such as the ageing population worldwide and universal insurance in low- and middle-income countries. These hands-on experiences would equip me with international perspectives. These hands-on experiences would hone my problem-solving abilities and leadership competencies.

Additionally, this programme fosters a vibrant community of diverse professionals, including classmates, alumni, and industry experts. Leveraging these networks would enrich my learning experience and provide me with invaluable connections and mentorship opportunities. Collaboration with peers from diverse backgrounds and sharing insights with industry leaders would broaden my perspectives and inspire innovative solutions to complex healthcare issues. 

All of these values would help my career move forward in the future.

What are your long-term career goals? How do your MBA from GBSH and your current work align with these goals?

My long-term career goal is to become a marketing director in a world-leading international pharma company. Then, I could have a chance to found my own business one day and to be a women leader.

I think an MBA from GBSH can equip me with the essential business knowledge, leadership skills, and strategic thinking required to excel in the pharmaceutical industry. The curriculum covers finance, marketing, data, strategy, and sustainability, providing me with a solid foundation to thrive in a competitive corporate environment.

GBSH’s emphasis on practical learning through case studies, consulting projects and industry leaders allows me to gain practical experience in marketing and business development within the pharmaceutical sector. Engaging in these experiential opportunities enhances your skills and provides valuable insights into industry trends, market dynamics, and consumer behaviour, all of which are essential for success in marketing leadership roles.

The skills and mindset cultivated through my MBA and professional experience would be great pillars regarding my entrepreneurial aspirations. I learnt that people and collaboration are critical for the business world. I can't do it alone if I want to make a career. A solitary person travels fast; many travel far. Building good relationships and networking can help me find the resources I want. The MBA programme of GBSH focuses on innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship, which can provide me with the tools and resources needed to turn my business ideas into a reality and achieve my long-term entrepreneurial goals.

UCL’s education extends beyond knowledge, fostering critical perspectives and encouraging courage to explore new avenues. All these let me know that it would never be too late to do what I want. It cultivates students to have an unwavering conviction for effecting positive change, embracing challenges, breaking boundaries, and pursuing growth with fearlessness.

How has studying in the UK influenced your career perspective, especially considering the business landscape and opportunities back in China?

Studying in the UK has had a profound impact on my career perspective, particularly in relation to the business landscape and opportunities in China. My experience in the UK exposed me to diverse perspectives, innovative ideas, and advanced business practices. The main reason is that I engage with leading academic and industry professionals broadened my understanding of international business dynamics, market trends, and cross-cultural communication, which are valuable assets in today’s interconnected world.

I have a lot of opportunities for experiential learning and networking in the UK, enhancing my practical skills and industry knowledge. These experiences gave me a competitive edge and a global mindset, essential for navigating China’s increasingly complex and challenging business context.

Also, my exposure to global hot topics in the UK, such as sustainability, has enriched my perspective on sustainable development, which is becoming increasingly important in China’s business landscape. Apart from that, I learnt about the UK’s medical prevention programme, which made me aware of the importance of early screening for cancer. These can also be applied to China’s healthcare system to increase the early screening rate, improve the rate of patients living with cancer, and reduce the government's financial burden.

Lastly, studying in the UK instilled a strong sense of professionalism, adaptability, and resilience, which are highly valued in China’s rapidly evolving business environment. As China continues to undergo economic transformation and technological innovation, the skills and insights gained from my international education are essential for emerging opportunities and addressing challenges in the domestic market.

How important has networking and mentorship been during your MBA studies? Can you share any experiences of connecting with female mentors, academics or professionals through the GBSH community?

As I mentioned before, networking is critical for my career development. Through networking, I ‘ve had the opportunity to connect with a diverse array of individuals, including classmates, alumni, faculty members, and industry professionals, all of whom have provided useful guidance, support, and insights. During that period, I met the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, who is an expert in global health policy. She was really warm-hearted and helpful in helping me to understand global health policy-related content. We build good relationships with each other. 

Mentorship has been an indispensable aspect of my MBA studies, pivotal in shaping my professional journey. My tutor, Simon, helped me analyse my personality and guided me to have a better idea of my strengths and weaknesses. Let me know what I should do to prepare myself for my future career goals. 

In particular, connecting with female mentors, academics, and professionals through the GBSH community has been immensely rewarding. I reached out to our coach, Egan Caroline, who helped me combine my passion and self-value with my career development, solving my mind's confusion. She is very kind and shares specific coaching notes and relevant links with me, exposing me to women's leadership websites and US and UK communities. 

I’ve been fortunate to engage with accomplished women who have excelled in their respective fields. I have an opportunity to get in touch with the Head of Digital Transformation and Innovation at Sanofi, Silvia Cerolini, who has a similar background to me. I could talk about my career development with her in the next month and inquire about some professional advice about my future career development in the Pharma or MedTech companies.

Lastly, we have access to a women's leadership training next month, which would be a thrilling and powerful experience.

What is your perspective on gender equality in the workplace, especially in leadership positions within your field, and how do you plan to contribute to positive changes in this area?

My perspective on gender equality in the workplace, particularly in leadership positions within my field, is rooted in the belief that diversity and inclusion are essential for fostering innovation, driving growth, and promoting organisational success.  

Great progress that over 50% of women employees work in China’s pharmaceutical industry has made in recent years. However, one question still deserves our consideration. Significant gender disparity remains in leadership roles, with women often underrepresented in senior management and executive positions.

To contribute to positive changes in this aspect, I am committed to advocating for gender equality within my organisation and the broader business community. I will actively support initiatives and policies to promote gender diversity and inclusion, such as implementing gender-neutral recruitment practices, offering women leadership development programs, and fostering a supportive and inclusive work culture.

I will strive to be an ally and mentor to female colleagues, offering guidance, support, and opportunities for advancement.

Additionally, I will use my platform and influence to build a Women’s Leadership Community to raise awareness of gender bias and discrimination. This involves participating in industry forums, speaking engagements, protection and motivation for breastfeeding female employees, and thought leadership initiatives focused on promoting gender equality and challenging traditional stereotypes and norms.

I will actively seek opportunities to collaborate with international organisations and community groups dedicated to advancing women’s rights and gender equality. In collaboration with like-minded individuals and organisations, we can amplify our impact and drive meaningful change on a broader scale.