2019 Best Online MBAs: Michael E. Silverman, Jack Welch Management Institute

Michael E. Silverman, M.D.

The Jack Welch Management Institute

“Problem-solving Emergency M.D. with a passion for teaching budding physicians to save lives.”

Age: 50

Hometown: Basking Ridge, NJ

Fun fact about yourself: My favorite past time is sharing anecdotes about my four incredibly intelligent and active children. Much like me, they over-deliver in all they do:

  • My oldest daughter just graduated from college and is about to start a career as a professional dancer.
  • My second child is a computer science major now, but he graduated with an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science before he even finished high school.
  • My third child is going to college as a Division One gymnast. She will be competing at the 2019 Nationals for level 10 gymnastics, having just won both state and her region.
  • And my youngest is a high school freshman whose basketball team just completed an undefeated season.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

City College of NY: B.S.

New York Medical College: M.D.

Where are you currently working? I am presently working at Morristown Medical Center, Atlantic Health System (Envision Physician Services).

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I hold three board certifications in Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine. I’m currently the treasurer of the medical staff at the hospital and Vice Chair of the emergency department.

But, my most significant achievement was being named Educator of the Year for our Emergency Medicine residency program. I get great satisfaction from instructing other doctors. As a highly motivated and self-proclaimed “fixer,” having the patience to ensure you are training others can take practice. JWMI’s MBA program made me a better leader and mentor and has given me a new understanding of my role and what I can bring to other physicians and the hospital system as a whole, with the ultimate goal to help more patients. Being named Educator of the Year was validation and recognition that the extra time and effort had a real effect on others and potentially saved lives.

There is no better reward than helping others grow and succeed in their careers, whether in business or as a medical professional in the emergency room.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I recently took on additional healthcare administration roles and realized the importance that an MBA could provide in my upward trajectory. Embarking on an MBA is no small feat, especially when you already have a medical post-graduate degree, demanding job, and family commitments. It was essential to select a program that was going to provide tangible outcomes, and that focused on growing me as a leader. I researched multiple MBA programs trying to highlight ones with a healthcare focus and found JWMI. The element of the program that resonated the most with me was the “Learn on Monday. Apply on Tuesday.” philosophy. I wasn’t going just to study MBA topics, but the coursework required me to actively apply those principles and learnings into real scenarios to better improve the care and flow in a high-pressure emergency room setting as well as throughout the hospital in the future. It was clear that JWMI’s MBA was going to be the best fit for me, my family, and my career.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I am a continual learner and am always looking for opportunities to enhance my education, to get smarter, and to dig in and find solutions. However, as a husband, father, medical professional, and volunteer, there was often little time for self-care and enrichment. However, the Jack Welch online MBA program provided me the flexibility to do it all. It freed me from the constraints of having to attend class on campus. It freed me from having to be online at a particular time each week for live lectures. The program is 100% online and asynchronous. I could go to my daughter’s gymnastics’ meet or my son’s basketball game and still work on my MBA during downtime. I was able to carve out time in my schedule before work or on the weekends to read case studies, books, and articles that are part of the required reading. I found the curriculum’s content and support materials to be extremely interesting and relevant to the market today.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? Having never attended an online learning program, I was surprised by several different elements.

First, I was surprised by the superior quality of the JWMI faculty. JWMI professors have a great deal of expertise within their industries and come from some of the top companies in the world to share their knowledge. While all the professors were great, Jeff Brooks (Strategy) and John Shaw (Finance), were extraordinary. Each of them brought humor and enthusiasm into the course shell. More importantly, they pushed my classmates and me to go above and beyond, to ponder why a number is relevant and think with a “CEO mindset.” They are more than just professors; they are mentors who are available inside and outside of class.

The depth and breadth of connections with fellow students from across the globe also exceeded my expectations. The online course environment provided a discussion board where students exchanged dialogue on weekly topics as assigned by the professor, similar to what you would expect in a live classroom setting. Unlike a live classroom, we weren’t constrained by time. Discussions threads could be hundreds of responses thick, with answers and chit chat coming throughout the day. You could easily see how the weekly topic applied across various industries and job titles. These classroom conversations naturally progressed to creating connections with classmates. The small class sizes, of no more than 20 people also helped to facilitate friendships. Jack Welch was a great proponent of taking every opportunity to learn—learning from different cultures, different industries, and those with varying levels of experience. Faithful to Jack’s teachings, this type of forum provided a great place to gain knowledge from others. As a medical physician with two decades of experience, I often had more expertise than my classmates. However, I appreciate that I could gain insight from every student and their points of view. You never know where a great idea will come from if you view every experience as an opportunity to learn.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? My online experience was certainly more flexible. The most significant differentiators are the areas of study. Within my undergraduate program, I was forced to take courses that had no applicability to my long-term goals to that of becoming a physician. Although I was in an accelerated medical degree program, I still had many classes that were in general education courses.

Flash forward to my JWMI experience, each of the courses built upon the next. The curriculum was designed in a prescriptive way so that students take 12 courses designed to produce great leaders. And unlike my undergraduate experience that focused more on getting the correct answer on an exam, at JWMI I learned to evaluate businesses from a high level. I understand now how different departments operated together, and how to communicate to employees, stockholders, and other executives. JWMI provided a big-picture perspective to running a business and building a team. So even if you never aspire to be a CEO, you still gain the insight into what senior leadership is looking for in employees and how to over deliver to grow both the business and your place in the organization.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? One of my favorite components of the program were the group projects. While coordinating the teams can be challenging, team process simulates a real work environment and is an excellent opportunity to test the application of newly learned leadership principles. I would have loved even more group project opportunities within the curriculum.

How has your online education helped you in your current job? The application of the curriculum has been extremely worthwhile. Two of my favorite classes were Leadership in the 21st Century and Business Communications and Executive Presence. The leadership class allows you to explore your leadership style via behavioral self-assessments like DiSC® and conflict self-assessments including the Thomas-Kilmann Instrument (TKI). The Business Communications course teaches you how to present yourself, how to speak candidly, and how to write for your audience. I use the skills learned in these two classes every day as I work to influence others who don’t directly report to me. Managing up and laterally requires constant practice and excellent communication. Leaders must establish a foundation of trust and transparency, built on candor. And while you may assume that candid conversations come easy to me as a physician, there is a difference between being candid with patients and being candid with colleagues. I’ve had to work on this skill and feel much more confident as a leader because of it.

If you had to do it all over again, would you? Why? Absolutely. I credit JWMI with providing me with the leadership principles that allowed me to excel in my role as an administrator in my hospital system. Since JWMI regularly uses student feedback to evaluate courses and implement changes, I know the course content which is already top-notch will continue to evolve.

Over this journey, I’ve reflected on whether I chose the right time to pursue my MBA. Had I entered the program five years earlier, would I have gotten as much out of it? You don’t know what you don’t know. This program opened my eyes to so many areas within business that are incredibly relevant to my career now. It was the perfect timing; especially as more and more medical professionals are finding it necessary to go back to school and earn their MBA.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I want to expand my current role as a healthcare administrator while continuing to mentor and lead as a medical professional focused on patient care and saving lives. Eventually, I envision expanding my leadership role in my company or entering the C-suite within the hospital system.

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