Interview with Sarah Clark

Name: Sarah Clark
Nationality: Australian
Year Graduated: IEMBA06
Current Organization: Biogen
Current Role: Field Medical Strategy

Tell us more about your professional background. What were you doing prior to embarking on the Executive MBA HSG?

I studied Bachelor of Pharmacy and Masters of Pharmaceutical Medicine which prepared me well for work as a hospital pharmacist and to enter the pharmaceutical industry in Medical Affairs. As I progressed through my career and moved into European leadership roles, I worked more closely with my colleagues in different functions and realized the importance of having a deeper understanding of business and management, in order to be a better team player and to be able contribute more fully to strategical decision making across the business.

Why did you decide to do an EMBA programme? Why did you choose the EMBA HSG?

I selected the EMBA HSG based on feedback from peers across the pharmaceutical industry in Europe, who recognised the program as high-quality and St. Gallen as one of the best universities in Switzerland to study business. Initially the list of subjects appeared daunting, based on my limited experience in accounting and finance for example, but it was very important to me that I expanded my business knowledge rapidly. I learn best through engaging and discussing with colleagues and the face to face programme design appealed to me instantly. I also really appreciated the focused nature of each module, with pre-work, a busy week and a post-module assignment, which concentrates the learning and ensures an immersive experience. However, it also means that normal life can continue between modules, which is extremely important with busy jobs and a lot of work travel! Finally, the International EMBA enabled us to study in the U.S, China, South Africa, Spain and the U.K which is invaluable in our globally connected world.

How has the EMBA HSG programme changed you personally so far?

The programme has given me the opportunity to build new friendships and networks from people across various industries and the diversity that is present in our cohort has improved my ability to solve business problems. We have lawyers, doctors, finance experts, engineers – the list goes on. Everyone brings a different view to the table when we do groupwork and learning from each other is the best part of doing an EMBA. I have become more open minded to new ideas and recognize how people approach challenges in different ways, which is invaluable when you work in a highly matrixed and international environment.

What did you appreciate the most about the EMBA HSG curriculum?

The concentrated modular approach is a great way to rapidly upskill in a specific area. The lecturers are very knowledgeable and have created excellent learning journeys, which enable the students to move through content quickly but remain focused on the practical application of this knowledge to case studies and managerial challenges. With my background of science and medicine, I have really enjoyed learning about other industries, which is important as we enter a time of disruption for Pharma, with companies like Google and Microsoft entering healthcare.

Was there a particular course that you enjoyed most, and why?

In early November we travelled to Cape Town for the subject Doing Business in Emerging Economies. The vibrancy of the city and citizens, the emotional history and the ongoing challenges for society combined to offer us an experience that opened our minds beyond the more traditional EMBA subjects. The discussions around impact investing and innovative finance are very topical, as the issue of sustainability becomes more important to society, and it was fantastic to meet the entrepreneurial people in the Cape Town Townships who were benefitting from this ecosystem. The weekend winery tour was great as well.

What advice would you give potential participants who are looking to do an EMBA HSG?

Just do it! Honestly, there is probably no ‘right time’ to start studying an EMBA, but I choose to live by the mantra «busy people get more done». In our class, we have new mothers and fathers, parents of teenagers, people who travel extensively for work and even someone who moved all the way to Australia! Once you start the course, it is easy to engage with the content because of the way it is presented and it is crazy how quickly time flies by! 

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