Women In Business: Warwick Executive MBA Drives Change In Leading UK Medical Organization

Pallavi Bradshaw is driving organizational change and studying a Warwick Executive MBA at the same time. She sees the EMBA as an enabler for women in business

Warwick Business School’s Executive MBA campus in London is located on the 17th floor of The Shard – the UK’s tallest building, at the center of a global business hub. Pallavi Bradshaw’s office is just two floors up.

As a senior medicolegal adviser at the Medical Protection Society – a world-leading protection organization for medical professionals – Pallavi works to support and defend doctors when they get into trouble.

She’s worked for the Medical Protection Society for the last 10 years. Now, as part of the medical leadership team in her department, she’s helping to drive organizational change to ensure the society’s medical and business aspects align.

At the same time, she’s pursuing a flexible, triple-accredited Executive MBA at Warwick – ranked among the top 25 EMBA programs in the world by the Financial Times – to broaden her horizons and take her career to the next level. The 20-to-40-strong Warwick EMBA class share an average of 13 years’ work experience between them.

Away from Central London, the Warwick Executive MBA experience has taken Pallavi to India, where she studied at a leading Indian business school and visited some of the country’s top ice cream and tea production companies. Warwick Executive MBA students can also choose to visit Silicon Valley and emerging markets in Mexico and China.

A medic by profession, and a former National Health Service doctor, Pallavi sees the EMBA as an enabler, opening up more opportunities for women in business.

Why did you decide to pursue an Executive MBA at Warwick?

It’s difficult when you’ve come from a vocation like medicine. You become very boxed into that area. I wanted to take that next step in my career. I felt I needed more understanding of the way business works. I wanted to get experience outside of healthcare; to expand my knowledge, challenge myself, and build up my confidence.

I knew I wanted to go to a top-tier business school based in London, and Warwick was the only business school I applied to. I looked at Imperial and LBS, but from a time commitment, reputation, and cost-perspective, Warwick suited me best.

What stands out from your Warwick EMBA experience so far?

You get to meet people from a huge range of industries. You make contacts, friends, and networks that give you a real insight into the industry issues they’re facing. We’ve also has guest speakers – like John Vary, innovation manager at John Lewis – that really bring the program to life.

In terms of careers, we’ve had insights into personality types and leadership styles. I think I’ve got a lot more emotional intelligence now. I’ve certainly have changed the way I interact with certain people.

How are you applying your EMBA learnings in your current role?

Our company’s going through an interesting period of change from a company started in 1892, run by doctors for doctors for a very long time.

In the mid-1990s, we realized we needed a bit more business input. We’ve had a huge influx of people from industry and insurance backgrounds, and there’s been a change of leadership and huge clash of cultures. We’re now doing a project around how to unify those cultures – how to bring out our heritage but also respect the fact that we need to move with the times.

The EMBA has given me insight into how that information can be relayed; how you can support your colleagues, while also understanding why things have to change, and trying to reach compromises. As part of the medical leadership in our department, putting the theory behind some of the practice has been fascinating.

How far is the MBA an enabler for women in business?

An MBA give you the legitimacy to say: ‘I know what I’m doing. I’ve got a great degree from a good business school. Why can’t I apply for that job or get that promotion?’ It will give employers thought to stop and pause if they’re getting more women coming in with MBAs.

I think people take you more seriously with an MBA. And, during the program, you meet other women in industry. It’s been exciting to see other women in often very male-dominated industries doing really well. It’s certainly given me the confidence to speak up in management meetings.

Will top-level CEO roles soon be occupied by as many women as men?

I think we’re on the right track. Things can be done better and faster and, hopefully, in a decade I’m sure we’ll be a lot further on. Certainly, in medicine it’s changed – we are getting more women in leadership roles.

But I do think there’s still a slight apprehension around putting women in senior positions, partly because there’s a prejudice that they might have children. When it comes to family and career, I think that a lot of women do still have to choose.

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