2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Manasa Murthy, University of Texas (McCombs)

Manasa Murthy

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“Travel-loving, healthcare-obsessed, lifelong learner determined to make the world a better place.”

Hometown: Diamond Bar, California

Fun fact about yourself: I was a Girl Scout for 12 years and earned the Gold Award, equivalent to the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Scout designation.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Undergraduate

University of Arizona; Pre-Pharmacy Studies; 2004-2006

Graduate

University of Arizona, Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD); 2006-2010

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Ascension Health- Seton Family of Hospitals; Network Clinical Pharmacy Specialist

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson Company; Horsham, PA

Where will you be working after graduation? HEB; Director of Health & Wellness

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Health Innovation Fellows, Co-President
  • Graduate Women in Business, Vice President of Events
  • McCombs Discover Women’s Weekend, Co-Chair
  • Indian Graduate Business Association, Vice President
  • Board Fellow at Half Helen Foundation
  • Texas Venture Labs Fellow
  • McCombs Ambassador Committee Member
  • Best Speaker recipient at Deloitte Strategy & Operations Case Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my contributions to the healthcare initiatives at McCombs. As a clinician, I was largely motivated to get an MBA because I was frustrated with the number of healthcare leaders who didn’t truly understand the impact of their decisions (on both patients and staff). Because of this, I wanted to play an active role in shaping the curriculum and extracurricular healthcare offerings at McCombs.

As Co-President of Health Innovation Fellows (HIF), I worked to build the healthcare footprint of McCombs in school and throughout Austin. In recent years, Austin has become a robust healthcare hub, complete with a new medical school, a growing company base, and an inflow of VC funding. With this in mind, I helped solidify a relationship with Dell Medical School’s Texas Health Catalyst (THC)—a program that accelerates the clinical translation of discoveries and innovations through customized guidance and seed funding. THC projects include everything from devices to treatments to initiatives in digital health and diagnostics that move the needle on better health. With this program, MBA students who were a part of Health Innovation Fellows were able to participate in the funding and consulting decisions of THC. These real-world practicum experiences provided students exposure to the healthcare innovation space in addition to unique networking opportunities.

We also created partnerships with HealthTech Austin, Merck and other innovation-focused startups in Austin. Internally at McCombs, we worked on formalizing our marketing strategy by creating a website, a resume book, leveraging social media, and building connections with key professors and staff. We also played an active role in shaping the curriculum by providing feedback on current healthcare classes and ideas for future offerings to keep up with the dynamic nature of today’s healthcare landscape. This work would not have been possible without my Co-president, Colin Bozarth and highly motivated HIF officers.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I started working at my last hospital, I was the only residency trained pharmacist. This was very different from my previous hospitals in which pharmacists were fully integrated into patient care. Initially, I faced a significant barrier of having to build my credibility and demonstrate value to all healthcare stakeholders. I am most proud of the impact I had on creating a clinical pharmacy presence at my hospital and garnering trust from individuals I highly respect. Over time, I developed strong relationships with physicians, nurses and fellow pharmacists—ones I continue to cherish.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA Course was Financial Statement Analysis (FSA) with Patrick Badolato. This class stood out to me because it is ultimately a strategy class that links key takeaways from the core curriculum in a digestible and memorable fashion. The class discusses very relevant companies in today’s news and draws out strategies that have led to success or failure. Professor Badolato expects a lot from his students and challenges us to push ourselves. I credit this class for teaching me the skills and general frameworks for landing my post-MBA role in retail healthcare strategy.

Why did you choose this business school? When I looked at business schools, I focused on three things: culture, network and program offerings. From a culture perspective, McCombs has a very collaborative, inclusive and nonjudgmental feel. Second, McCombs and the University of Texas system have a strong brand and alumni base that is recognized across the country. Lastly, I was excited by the growing healthcare offerings at school and in Austin. Unlike several MBA programs that offer traditional healthcare concentrations, McCombs is largely differentiated by its focus on healthcare innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Always remember why you wanted to get the MBA in the first place and stay true to that mission, even if that means taking risks. When you start business school, it is very easy to get sidetracked, follow popular career paths, or become disillusioned. But if you are truly passionate about doing something, you will find a way to make it happen (and likely be happier and more successful in the long run).

What is the biggest myth about your school? Texas McCombs may be viewed as an “oil & gas” school by some. While we do succeed in this area, McCombs offers so much more. As Austin continues to grow and evolve, the opportunities across industries and roles are endless. I see this as one of our strongest differentiators.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? When I started, I was very nervous about the fact that I had never taken a business class before and therefore would not have much to contribute. What I wish I had known was that everyone comes with a unique perspective and skill set that really does enrich the learning experience.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am constantly in awe of my classmates and the great things they are doing to change the world. One person who stands out in my mind is Aishwarya Nagarajan. I admire Aishwarya for her unwavering focus on what she wants, strong work ethic, and passion for learning. Aishwarya is a true boss lady and puts her 100% into everything she does and never complains that she has too much on her plate. She excels in academics and extracurriculars while still managing to be a strong role model for her daughter.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? When I was in pharmacy school, I was overly focused on getting the best grades. But when I graduated, I realized that academic performance did not always equate to being the best pharmacist. The MBA was transformative for me because it not only taught me business fundamentals, but more importantly forced me to focus on the things that matter – the “soft skills.” The MBA highlighted the importance of networking and strong communication skills—learnings I would not have appreciated or focused on before this experience.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I would never have made the leap to get an MBA if it weren’t for my husband (who interestingly is a now a first year at McCombs). Before school, I found my job impactful but was very frustrated with the episodic, reactionary and often times backward nature of our healthcare system. Ultimately, after complaining for some time, my husband challenged me to actually do something about it and pursue what I really wanted to do. I am thankful that he encouraged me to take a risk and further invest in my development.

What is your favorite movie about business? I really enjoyed The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley – the HBO documentary about Elizabeth Holmes. The documentary and the book “Bad Blood” were both enthralling to me because of the idea that such good intentions could turn out so badly. One of the biggest lessons from Theranos is the importance of healthy scrutiny and due diligence. It is easy to get swept up into storytelling and hype, but ultimately a product or idea should check out.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working as a clinical pharmacist at a hospital system.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It is hard to quantify because I believe the MBA is a long-term investment. The MBA is definitely worth more than I paid for it. The strong friendships that I have made with some of my classmates and professors are priceless. In addition, the knowledge and skills I have developed will be invaluable as I start the next phase of my career. I never would have been able to get my post-MBA job without this degree.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Visit all of the US national parks

See the northern lights

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as someone who:

  • Treated everyone with respect
  • Was not afraid to do the right thing
  • Always saw the silver lining

Hobbies?

  • Cooking & trying new foods
  • Learning about different cultures
  • Yoga
  • Traveling

What made Manasa such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

Dr. Murthy, or Manasa as her friends call her, is a connector, an innovator and a leader in the future of healthcare. She came to McCombs as a clinical pharmacist specializing in critical care medicine with a desire to make an impact in healthcare.

During her time at McCombs, Manasa worked to build bridges in the broad healthcare ecosystem of The University of Texas, Austin and beyond. She spearheaded projects with our new Dell Medical School’s Texas Health Catalyst, a collaborative initiative that supports researchers, innovators, and entrepreneurs in accelerating the translation of innovations to health products. She also networked with corporate newcomers to Austin healthcare scene like Merck.

Beyond being a connector in the healthcare ecosystem, on-campus Manasa found time to serve as Co-President of Health Innovation Fellows, Co-VP of Events for our Graduate Women in Business and VP for Indian Graduate Business Association.

As Professor Patrick Badolato put it, “In the realm of financial analysis where we commonly see mindless computations and regurgitated jargon, Manasa excelled with her straightforward and grounded approach to our cases and classes. She has an impressive ability to use her extensive knowledge, not to over-complicate, but to distill issues down, strip out the filler and zero in on the underlying substance or core idea. I am confident she will apply her diverse skills and make a positive impact on the changing landscapes of retail and health services.”

In the spirit of innovation and transformation, Manasa will leave McCombs to take on a newly-created position as Director of Health and Wellness at HEB, our exceedingly popular, Texas-based, nationally recognized grocery chain. We know that she will have a ripple effect and will continue to spread her positive impact as a change agent in the healthcare ecosystem and beyond.”

Tina Mabley

Assistant Dean of the Full-Time MBA Program

DON’T MISS: POETS&QUANTS’ HONOR ROLL OF THE WORLD’S 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAs GRADUATES IN THE CLASS OF 2019

MEET THE TEXAS MCCOMBS MBA CLASS OF 2019

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