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This EMLYON MBA Is Bridging The Gender Gap In Healthcare With Her New Startup

Kerranna Williamson is putting together an all-female medical sales force

By  Josie West

Thu Dec 1 2016


“The medical sales space was never designed to keep women out, but it wasn’t designed with women in mind,” says Kerranna Williamson, a serial entrepreneur and MBA graduate from France’s EMLYON Business School.

She’s just launched a new startup – ALIS Health - to break down barriers for women in healthcare.

Founded with fellow MBA alumna Amy Dye, ALIS Health is creating an outsourced, all-female sales force for clinical laboratories to help bring the next generation of innovative healthcare technologies to market. Kerranna’s aim: to advance medicine and empower women in healthcare.

Kerranna began her MBA in France with no intention of becoming an entrepreneur. But the EMLYON MBA experience gave her the entrepreneurial bug.

When BusinessBecause last spoke to Kerranna, she was living off the success of her first business - an Airbnb-style co-working platform - and looking to break into the virtual reality space.

Since then, Vaga has experienced impressive growth in three continents. And Kerranna is looking to sell so she can focus on her new venture. 

How did the idea to start ALIS Health come about?

My business partner and I wanted to find a solution for the innovative healthcare technologies that never make it to market because they don’t reach physicians. 

Healthcare companies are developing advanced genetic tests and sometimes just need to outsource that piece to actually commercialize in the final steps. This is where ALIS Health comes in.

What do you hope to achieve?

I want to build a company that can employ and financially empower a large network of women to get involved in learning about science and advancing science. There is this really cool technology in science and people should know about it and have access to it.

Medical sales is a fast-growing space, so we’re excited to see how it takes off and we’re proud to be two women MBA grads growing a highly scalable business.

What challenges do you face?

The biggest challenge with ALIS Health is navigating an industry that is massive and has traditional ways of operating. And, how to communicate the value of a new and more dynamic solution.

How have you been supported by the EMLYON MBA?

EMLYON gave me the tools to initiate building a successful business. It also gave me the credibility to open up the field for women in medical sales, through ALIS Health. 

Professors have been supportive and the school has reached out and sent people my way. I get as much out of mentoring other business owners as I do from being mentored myself.

How have you found being a female entrepreneur male-dominated industries?

In my former career in educational health and science, there was a disparity for women in the workforce. And in business I’ve had my own challenges, coming through as a woman in technology, to find my place and my own credibility. 

For traditional male-dominated industries, there’s an inherent challenge in how to change the conversation. That’s something I really appreciated about EMLYON. Our classes were just over 50% women.

What advice do you have for women looking to do the same?

The advice I give to women, over and over again, is simple: just because the status-quo has not been extremely inclusive to women, keep doing what you’re doing and do it really well and that’s the best way to break that glass ceiling. MBA degrees can provide women with some of the stepping stones to bridge the gap.