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This Warwick Executive MBA Is Leading Vaccine Innovation At GSK

In an often male-dominated pharma industry, Warwick Business School Executive MBA Lisa Banks is using her newfound business knowledge to lead digital innovation at GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines


Thu Mar 11 2021

Developing vaccines isn't a simple process, especially in a race against a global pandemic. Pharmaceutical companies continuously look for new ways to accelerate research, development, and manufacturing to ensure that vaccines can have as wide an impact as possible.

Dr Lisa Banks recognized how technology can enhance scientific and medical innovation, especially around vaccines, and was keen to pursue a technology-led role within the pharmaceutical industry. For Lisa, the Executive MBA (EMBA) at Warwick Business School (WBS) was an opportunity to strengthen her business acumen and prepare her for this career transition.

She now leads digital innovation for global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Vaccines in Belgium, where she identifies and evaluates emerging technologies to support the vaccine lifecycle. She credits her Warwick Executive MBA with arming her with the leadership skills and confidence she needed to succeed in a rapidly developing sector, enabling her to thrive as a female scientist and technologist in a traditionally male-dominated industry

Embracing leadership through an Executive MBA

Lisa researched various business schools that offered executive MBA programs, but WBS' high teaching standards, the array of modules on offer, and the school’s stellar reputation immediately drew her to the program.

Knowing that strategic leadership would form a significant part of her role in the pharmaceutical industry, Lisa was also attracted to the Warwick Executive MBA’s emphasis on this component.

“The strategic leadership development module taught us how to understand what characteristics we needed for effective leadership in various situations and how to build your adaptive strengths to your leadership style,” notes Lisa.

This adaptive leadership style has helped Lisa work in digital innovation, which requires navigating changing and often ambiguous situations. “Understanding how to apply these leadership skills has been crucial for my role,” she says.

Part of the strategic leadership module, Lisa says, is about learning how to bring team members with you to drive the change forward. “I found it interesting to learn about the potential barriers to change and how leaders can respond by building teams that will help them to deliver that change,” she says.

Working on enhancing the lifecycle of a vaccine is no small feat. Lisa must respond to changes affecting vaccine technologies as efficiently as possible, which may sometimes require utilizing team members' insight to bring about an effective solution.

Applying business knowledge to real-world issues

Knowing that she wanted to remain within the pharmaceutical industry after her Warwick EMBA but wishing to improve her skill set, Lisa turned to WBS’ CareersPlus’ Executive Career Coaching. This is where experienced executives work one-on-one with students to help fine tune their career plans.

“Coaching helps me to prepare and plan for my next career steps. I would set aside time before each session to think through what I wanted to get out of it, which aided in furthering my understanding of my career direction,” notes Lisa.

The EMBA Consultancy Project was a great chance to leverage her new-found confidence and practically apply the business knowledge she’d acquired. Students can apply theories, concepts, and frameworks learned throughout the program to a business issue.

Lisa completed the project with GSK, who she’d recently joined partway through her Warwick Executive MBA, looking into barriers to artificial intelligence adoption within her organization. “Not only was I able to apply the frameworks to a real business challenge, but the experience created great networking opportunities, interviewing GSK employees to inform my research,” says Lisa.

Through applying her learnings from the Warwick Executive MBA to tackle a complex business issue, Lisa has been able to advance her understanding of the organization she works for and further her career.


Thriving as a female technologist

Working in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Lisa felt it was important to study an EMBA at a business school that values female leadership.

WBS partners with the 30% Club, a campaign aiming to achieve 30% female board representation, offering scholarships for female leaders. As a high caliber female EMBA candidate, WBS awarded Lisa one of these scholarships. As a result, she recognized the advantage the Warwick EMBA would provide her to succeed in her future career.

Supplementing her experience with theoretical knowledge from the Warwick EMBA has further developed Lisa’s confidence. “It’s important to have several different tools you can call upon in certain situations, and a diversity of thinking, preventing you from defaulting to the same method each time,” she comments.

Aspiring to be a positive force of change within a male-dominated environment, Lisa understands the value a gender diverse workforce brings to scientific innovation. Leveraging diverse leaders' unique perspectives enables rich discussions and better decisions, she notes.

“When you're designing either an organization, a process, or a product, it’s important to understand the end-user at the outset, and thinking of this end-user from a diversity angle is essential for it to be successful,” Lisa concludes.

Student Reviews

Warwick Business School




On Campus

BSc Management with Marketing

I loved Warwick business school. The staff is supportive, my academic tutor was key in my development throughout the 3 years and you have to meet with her/him every term. Most professors are helpful and would happily offer support if needed. You also have office hours and can contact professors by email and through the forum. In general, WBS instills in you the willingness to learn and the resilience needed for you for whatever career you choose. Very international community which broadens your horizon and makes you more open minded and self aware. You will most certainly make friends and memories for life. I recommend that you get outside of your comfort zone and try new activities with your friends! WBS also has a great reputation and offers careers opportunities, and careers support throughout the degree. There is the opportunity to do a year abroad to further develop on a personal level. I wasn’t able to do this due to Covid but I would have loved to do it during normal circumstances! Would definitely recommend this. Although Warwick is not a city university, the campus vibe has a lot of advantages, especially at an undergraduate level. You are always around familiar faces, and in a student environment. Moreover, Birmingham is only 20 mins away from Leamington spa and London is only one hour away! Perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway!




On Campus

Life at Warwick Business School

Pursuing my master's degree at WBS has been a game-changer in my life. With high-quality education, interaction with students from across the world, amazing campus life and much more. I was able to learn about business, finance, project management and strategy all in one course: MSc in Management at WBS. Besides the top-notch education from the best professors, I also enjoyed being a part of fun societies and participating in fun activities such as scavenger hunts and so much more. The school also organises many company visits and interactions which help students get a head start at finding a job. As my course came to an end, I also have a good full-time job placement in my hands. Overall, my experience at WBS was a great one.






The Warwick Business School was like a dream come to life for me. The University ranking speaks for itself, from top-tier facilities to some of the best professors I had to honour to study with I fell in love with my course. Interactions with people from all over the world gave me a newfound confidence in myself. Career prospects after graduating are endless due to the contacts of the universities and the success rate for previous students, it does open a lot of doors for students in various career fields. The campus life is quite good as well with a lot of student groups and clubs, and extra circular activities to engage students at all times. Loved my experience.




On Campus

A good business school

It is a very cutting-edge, career-oriented business school, all courses are very practical, and the college does a very good job of career service. From the hardware and facilities to the staff, the student experience is at the core of the school and student satisfaction is taken very seriously. I understand that many universities in the UK are relatively traditional and can occasionally be rigid in terms of rules and regulations, and although WBS has a relatively short history, this makes it more innovative and dynamic, which is essential for a business school. The downside is that because it is on the outskirts of Coventry, it is a long bus ride to the city centre, not to mention the difference in experience from a big city like London.




On Campus


The people, campus, staff. It’s a very enjoyable environment and it’s particularly good for learning and playing sports. The people there are extremely friendly and welcoming and it’s very easy to make friends




What I Like About Warwick

I’ve personally liked my experience at Warwick so far because of the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet and how many opportunities we students are provided with to learn and grow. Within Warwick, I’m part of the Business School, a learning haven comprised of well-structured modules and extremely helpful people All in all, a great place to be :)




Campus Life

One thing that stood out for me was the campus life, you felt like part of a community. The social aspects of the student union and on-campus accommodation meant you can easily get together and enjoy with friends. Additionally, I felt the course provided a variety of subjects allowing me to enhance my knowledge, from Marketing to Law and Finance. Overall I would most definitely recommend this university to friends and family.




Excellence self catered

The campus is very welcoming and Modern. There are many opportunities at Warwick but it is up to the student how do they want to make the most out of it and the staff at the school will definitely helo as much as possible. The location and the ranking have been amazing.




Warwick business school

Warwick business school is one of the best universities around the globe with a solid base of economic and business studies. Moreover, students get a chance to study in a diverse and warm environment with professional stuff which tries to provide the best opportunities for career development. One of the memorable features of the university are great events which sometimes take a place in one of the landmarks of the London city, the Shard building.

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