Shaun Brij Vaid
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Dad jokes.
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Fun Fact About Yourself: I was in a Pepsi commercial with Kyrie Irving for the Uncle Drew series.
Undergraduate School and Major: The George Washington University, Economics and Religion
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: BJC Healthcare, Senior Financial Analyst
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I worked on an Emergency Department turnaround project in Tennessee a few years ago that was successful in reducing patient walk-outs. We spent several days working with stakeholders at all levels of the organization to create a new process by which we would triage patients within the Emergency Department. The path we took was difficult, but well-worth the struggle. Through this new process, we reduced walk-outs by 77%. I remember that on the second day of our pilot, one of the nurses entered the war room and excitedly told us that the new process we implemented saved somebody’s life. That project crystallized the reason why I love working in healthcare.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Humble. I am surrounded by people who have served their country, generated millions in value for their previous employers, and climbed the socioeconomic ladder, yet I have not once gotten the sense that any of my peers, despite their incredible accomplishments, view themselves as more deserving or better than their classmates. It is a privilege to be in a class with so many smart, innovative thinkers who are willing to listen to each other and collaborate to find the best solutions to complex problems.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The key factor that led me to choose this program was its location in St. Louis. The city has become a center for innovation in the tech industry and continues to make incredible strides in the fight for racial equity. Washington University has sponsored projects like For the Sake of All, which investigates disparate health outcomes for children from different parts of the city. The findings of this research are jarring – the economic costs of health disparities in the African-American community are estimated to be around $4 billion annually. When I was weighing my options between schools, I felt compelled to stay in the city where I grew up and help close the gap in health outcomes. I have worked in the healthcare industry for six years and have seen payment systems slowly shift from a fee-for-service model to an outcomes-based model that rewards quality of care. With the For the Sake of All research in-hand and this new healthcare climate, I see a significant opportunity to “do right” without sacrificing the bottom line. Washington University’s commitment to working on this issue coupled with its membership in the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management closed the deal for me. I wanted to be part of an institution that valued the same things I value, and Washington University met that criteria.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am excited to take on projects with the East St. Louis Initiative (ESLI), a student-led pro-bono consulting organization for entrepreneurs from East St. Louis, one of the country’s most underserved communities. Additionally, Washington University’s Center for Experiential Learning has a program called the Taylor Community Consulting Project that brings together students as consulting teams to work with nonprofit organizations in St. Louis.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I spoke with one of my old bosses, who I consider a good friend and mentor, and discussed different paths my career could take if I remained in the workforce or pursued an MBA. After some career war-gaming, I ultimately decided to pursue the MBA because of the networking and exploration opportunities that a great program could provide me.
How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Getting an MBA from a top program almost guarantees you the things that truly matter – a roof over your head and the capability to feed your family three times a day. As a bonus, you have the chance to do something you love after two years of studying and self-improvement. The investment made sense once I checked all of those boxes.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Fuqua, Wharton, Columbia
How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized institutional values and industry alignment. I would like to stay in the healthcare industry, so it was important to identify schools that had specific focuses in healthcare and a track record of producing leaders in the industry. I also connected with as many alumni and current students as possible to ask about their experiences and what advice they would offer younger versions of themselves before they entered MBA programs. From those discussions, I felt like I had a good sense of what each schools’ culture was like and was able to make well-informed decisions on where to spend my energy applying to schools.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I was laid off in 2016 as part of a cost-cutting strategy and admittedly felt a punch to my ego when the announcement came out. I took a few months to travel with friends, spend time with family, and re-assess what I was looking for in a career. That period helped me shape my approach to not only my career, but to my volunteer work and life’s mission. I believe that those months off gave me clarity and allowed me to focus on creating value in communities through business.
What do you plan to do after you graduate? Entrepreneurship or consulting.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Working alongside smart, intellectually curious people who want to use business to change the world for the better.