2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Daniel Bu, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Daniel Bu

Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford

“Focused and adventurous future surgeon working to enable and scale surgical innovation in emerging markets.”

Hometown: Surrey, British Columbia.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a back-up musician for several bands who play in the smallest dive bars around town.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Pennsylvania (Neurobiology, BA ‘16:); Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (MD/MSc in Clinical Research (Statistics), Candidate); University of Oxford (Master of Public Policy, ‘21).

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? U.S. National Institutes of Health – Sinai Health Policy Lab; Research Fellow (Data Science).

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? SEREN Tanzania/SEREN Oxford, a social enterprise that is focused on delivering and scaling up cancer diagnostics in East Africa. Location: Oxford/Tanzania.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will work for Infinitopes, a peri-surgical adjuvant cancer vaccine startup for a year before returning to medical school and starting my surgical training.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Community and Leadership Roles:

MBA Venture Consultant: Oxford Creative Destruction Lab.

Co-founding Member: start@ox, .

Chair: Health Policy & Financing Group @ Said Business School and Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford.

Chair, Prev: Vice-Chair: American Medical Association – MSS Committee on Economics and Quality in Medicine.

Policy Analyst: AI-REAL, Aggressive Infection-Related East Africa Lymphoma global health program.


Oxford – Pershing Square Scholarship.

TEDMED Research Scholarship.

Distinction in Master of Public Policy (as part of 1+1 MBA).

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am pretty proud to have been a co-founding member for start@ox, a student-led initiative that partnered with entrepreneurs and venture capital funds to encourage entrepreneurial thinking at the business school, medical school, and wider university. Through our efforts, I think we really did help to build up the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Oxford. We brought teeming ideas together, with different people who would help with ideation, let them bring it out of the room, build it, and then bring it back in before pitching for funding. To help spark innovation in a place that is nine hundred years old was an incomparable experience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The opportunity to work on and publish research that tangibly informed public policy governing the business of health innovation was a significant one for me. It was a chance to pull at the larger levers of health economics, ultimately framing the conditions for entrepreneurship and for strengthening the physician-patient relationship at scale. For example, I’ve helped to advance robotic-assisted surgery in rural Uganda and developed a policy for uptake of next-generation cancer diagnostics in Southeast Asia.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Saïd Business School for its unique 1+1 MBA that combined the breadth of the business degree with the depth of a specialized master’s degree. One of the unexpected pros of this programme was the community that it fostered among those who were not only interested in business, but in fields as different as water policy & management, African studies, public policy, or educational theories. It brought all these diverse professionals together, giving them a theoretical grounding. Then, in the second year, brought us together to learn how to execute and implement based on our passion and interests. It was this community and the history of the institution that made me choose this business school.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Michael Gill was a particularly memorable professor of organisational behaviour who brought many theories around motivation and congruence to life. His transitions between academic theory, practical application, and personal experience were seamless and light. He made it easy to grasp the bigger picture while zooming into the important micro-interactions that populate all of our work relationships.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event to date was the big Diwali celebration that the business school and the India OBN (a club or network of sorts) pulled off. A huge fraction of the class attended the dinner at the school—thanks to the fantastic kitchen team at the business school—and then went off to the pub to dance and celebrate. That night recalled many of the Diwali traditions of my hometown in Canada, and the sense of community and celebration that would light up the week.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The MBA offers so many opportunities that just come at you so fast. It’s easy to only become aware of something when it’s already in the rear view mirror. I think that if I were to do something differently, I would have mapped out some of less related but more exciting events that piqued my curiosity—and to engage more deeply with the world-leading scholars (professors and PhD students alike) at the business school who were driving research in impact investment, development economics, and theories of professional service firms in creating policy.

What surprised you the most about business school? The breadth of study at the business school was really quite surprising to me. As someone with a generally non-business background, getting to delve into something as diverse as development economics one day — and then corporate culture the next — was an intense and enjoyable experience. That and the quality of thought both surprised me about SBS.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? My own personal process involved diving deeply into my field of work and study before coming to SBS. I was and remain very passionate about surgical innovation within the context of developing economies. I think that having such a clear guide point made it easy to align all the different pieces of applying to a program such as the 1+1 MBA (pairing the MPP with the MBA). Having this tangible aim also helped to keep the level of motivation up when balancing work, study, and applying.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? One of the MBA classmates I’ve consistently looked to over the course of the past two years was a fellow 1 + 1 MBA, Shaan Pattni, who paired a degree in African Studies with his business studies. He is an example of someone who works incredibly hard, but behind the scenes and without complaining, delivers great work products, balances the big picture with focused aims, and brings everyone around him along with him as he seeks to re-imagine infrastructure and systemic change on the continent of Africa. I have seen him personally pick up the slack when other team members are struggling, and help drive the project forward while supporting and highlighting the efforts of others.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? An influential professor of mine in college was Zeke Emanuel, who played a critical role in conceptualizing and designing the Affordable Care Act for the Obama administration. His focus at Penn was a reflection of his professional career, which straddled clinical medicine, policy, bioethics, and systems design. His classes and way of approaching problems definitely made me think about how best to complement my medical training through other fields—ultimately leading me to the public policy and MBA studies I’m currently pursuing.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

(1) To become a surgeon who will help patients, in under-resourced settings, access surgical care both in the operating room and in the business arena.

(2) To take a patient-centred surgical technology company public.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic gave me the space to think more about the bigger picture of what I wanted to do. In health care, I think you could term it as a “paradigm” changing event, where a lot of the jumps that were only previously discussed are now being implemented. That has in turn motivated me to make the jump and take the risks to tackle the most important, but sometimes seemingly most difficult, challenges in my own professional life.

What made Daniel such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“As the faculty lead for the 1+1 MBA programme, I have found Daniel Bu to be a very engaging leader and a popular member of the 2022 cohort. He brings positive energy to the group and his diverse experience of working in health innovation, surgery and management make him stand out and enrich the experience of the cohort.”

Abrar Chaudhury
Faculty Advisor on the Oxford 1+1 MBA Programme
Saïd Business School


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.