Meet IMD’s MBA Class Of 2019

Surbhi Puri

IMD Business School

Creative, animal-loving, third culture kid who enjoys challenging the status-quo and building sustainable, high-impact, healthcare solutions.”

Hometown: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Fun Fact About Yourself: At age 14, I wrote a Bollywood movie review and submitted it to a local children’s magazine. It ended up on the editor’s desk of a leading national daily. I was hired to write reviews for the regular paper and was given a stipend, movie tickets, and a popularity boost in high school.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Pennsylvania: BSE (Bioengineering), BA (Health & Societies), MB (Biotechnology)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Novo Nordisk, Patient Support Manager, Business Area Africa

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: After working as a consultant in the USA, I decided to take the “road less travelled” and headed home to Dubai. I was hired by a leading pharmaceutical to launch an app to track medication adherence and link asthma patients with their physicians in the Gulf region. On my first day, I was informed that this was an unprecedented undertaking; even governments and regional health authorities had no guidelines or protocol for such a project. This road was not just less travelled, it did not exist.

Thus began a six-month saga of animated calls with our developer in San Francisco, day trips to meet senior health directors in Kuwait and Qatar, and working dinners at the office as our team tested through multiple, Gulf-relevant iterations of the app. After a successful launch, participating physicians reported that they could now track patients’ peak flows and medication titrations even while they traveled. Over time the program proved to ease patient-doctor interactions and support improved health outcomes. Our team won accolades within the company, public recognition, and additional investment to create new disease management programs. Within three years I had gone from launching programs in five markets to leading patient support strategy in 54 countries in Africa. The courage to take a risk and the belief in myself and my peers led us through a rewarding adventure. The best part was that we helped patients breathe easier along the way.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Brave; it takes courage to make a major life change in your late twenties/early thirties. Joining an MBA program means taking time off work, moving away from family, and pushing yourself to learn about new subjects and ideas. Every single one of my 89 IMD MBA compatriots exude a willingness to challenge themselves, and I admire them for it.

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? I was looking for a one-year program with a demonstrated focus on industry, and a small, student body. IMD came highly recommended by my mentors in the pharmaceutical industry so it really was the only choice for me. And of course, I embraced the opportunity to have a Swiss life experience!

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am currently Lead blogger for the IMD MBA blog and am enjoying the role of penning the class’ experiences over the year.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After consulting and then pharmaceuticals, I found myself in the niche of leading and designing patient-centricity projects. I loved my work, but I knew I aspired for something more. My education was primarily technical, and I wanted to merge my understanding of sciences and humanities with business. After a decade in healthcare, I also wanted to expand my worldview with peers in other industries. I wanted to challenge my paradigm of viewing the world. IMD’s MBA program specifically appealed to me given the Leadership Stream and focus on individual development.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I primarily relied on professional recommendations in my network from senior management in pharmaceutical companies. I then researched online and after the “Assess your Chances” and virtual campus tour at IMD; I was quite sure it was the place for me. This was confirmed when I came to campus on the Assessment Day.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Growing up watching my parents work as doctors had a deep influence on my life trajectory. I would do my homework in my mother’s clinic and saw first-hand that even with exceptional in-hospital care, patients struggled to understand their diseases and manage them outside in their daily lives. Seeing healthcare’s pain points first-hand, led to a burning desire to create efficiencies in out-of-hospital care and in drug development pathways.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Bringing cutting-edge medicine to market faster and better, asking questions, writing, tending to rescue animals, cherishing my family.

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