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Healthcare Expert Heads To Australia’s Top Business School

Sharif Bagnulo, part-time MBA student at the Australian Graduate School of Management, has found the program useful for his work on healthcare for disadvantaged communities

The stereotypical image of an MBA graduate is of a high-rolling city trader or consultant, a hotshot entrepreneur or a jet-setting tycoon. But one current MBA student at the Australian Graduate School of Management is completing his MBA with very different aims in mind.

Sharif Bagnulo, leads the outreach team at the New South Wales Rural Doctors Network. Before that he spent eight years in Nigeria managing health projects, and has received this year’s AGSM Community Leaders Scholarship.

With a globe-trotting childhood behind him, Bagnulo was always going to be drawn to work in other countries and that, combined with a strong sense of social justice also instilled during his early years, led him to seek work in the poverty-stricken country of Nigeria.

Life in Africa’s largest nation, he says, was “not for the faint-hearted”, although thanks to the support of his wife, Joanne, he proved equal to the task of helping communities in a country lacking many of the basic necessities. “The infrastructure we take for granted,” Bagnulo told BusinessBecause, is “conspicuously absent [in Nigeria].”

But it is not the deprivation, but the incredibly dignity and resilience of the Nigerian people that stays with Bagnulo now he no longer lives in the country. “My initial intentions where to give my time and energy to improve the lives of the less privileged,” he says, “But I gained so much more in return.”

An appreciation of the power of the human spirit and its ability to overcome was of vital importance to him in his next role, managing health outreach services in New South Wales, largely catering to the needs of the region’s Aboriginal population. Thanks to a scholarship from the AGSM, he was able to take on the MBA part-time but, as Bagnulo explains, he has no intention of leaving a life in the development industry.

The regional government of New South Wales is determined to reduce the life expectancy gap between Aboriginal Australians and the rest of the population, and Bagnulo is directly responsible for enacting those policies.

But the same problem-solving skills and corporate culture lessons that stand tomorrow’s pioneering businessmen in such good stead are also an asset to Bagnulo. The units he has completed so far are “directly applicable to my work [with deprived communities],” he tells us, “and I’m looking forward to learning more.”

While his end career may not be the typical post-MBA career path, he will gain as much from the lessons of his MBA as any other student.