University College London (UCL) this week launched its latest business education venture: the Global Business School for Health (GBSH).
The first business school in the world to be solely dedicated to healthcare, it aims to train current and future leaders in healthcare—a sector ripe for disruption. The school will open its doors to students in September 2022, in UCL’s East London campus.
The GBSH will offer several postgraduate programs, including a flagship Health MBA, and three MSc programs: Digital Health and Entrepreneurship, Biotech and Pharmaceutical Management, and Global Healthcare Management.
Overcoming leadership challenges in healthcare
The GBSH’s opening comes at an opportune time, as the healthcare sector grapples with challenges such as containing an ongoing pandemic, COVID vaccine distribution, an aging population, and how technology can best be applied.
And these issues are compounded by a growing healthcare skills gap. By 2030, the WHO predicts, 18 million more health workers will be needed.
“These are all major leadership challenges, and solving them takes people,” says professor Nora Colton, inaugural director of the GBSH.
“It’s not just about resources—you’ve got to have courageous, fearless leaders who are innovators.”
Nora is an economist by training, but she’s been applying her business insights to the healthcare sector since she joined UCL in 2018, as director of education at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.
When the position of director at GBSH emerged, the clear need for better leadership in health motivated her to apply.
“I wanted to seize the moment, because there’s such an outcry for better healthcare and better healthcare management,” she reflects.
To teach students about these challenges and potential solutions, the GBSH is taking an interdisciplinary approach to learning.
Each of the school’s master’s programs will be delivered by a mixture of business, management, health, and life sciences professors.
“We’re a business school, but health is in our DNA,” Nora comments.
During the Health MBA, students will learn about business topics like strategy or human resources. But at the end of each course, the subject is also applied directly to healthcare.
“During what we call ‘wrap-up week,’ health professionals come in and really bring those topics to life in how they apply to the healthcare sector,” Nora explains.
These case studies will be selected from both public and private health institutions, and a variety of countries, to account for the large variation between healthcare systems around the world.
Post-pandemic, students can also expect to take part in several international study trips, including a hands-on project called the Global Health Challenge. This will involve working with UCL academics to tackle a healthcare problem in a lower-middle income country.
Nora hopes the GBSH will attract a diverse student body, made up of both healthcare professionals, and those with a business background who want to pivot.
“We want a variety of students in the classroom,” Nora notes. “It’s about getting together a diverse group of people who share a passion for making a difference in health and healthcare.”
Ensuring gender equality is another key area of focus. According to the WHO, despite the fact that 70% of the world’s healthcare workforce are women, just 25% of senior leadership positions are occupied by women.
To help redress this leadership balance, the GBSH will offer scholarships to women in healthcare who are interested in the program.
“As well as a tuition discount, this gives them access to special mentoring and coaching,” Nora explains.
“We really want to see whether we can make a difference in training women who are ready to go into the c-suite.”
By fostering diverse leaders in healthcare, Nora and her colleagues hope that the new GBSH can play a role in transforming the healthcare sector.
“It’s not just about giving students technical business skills and applying them to health—it’s also about really pushing them to think differently,” Nora concludes.