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Johnson & Johnson Leads Healthcare's MBA Hiring Spree As Sector Doses Innovation

Big data helped healthcare giant ramp up b-school recruitment. MBAs needed to manage digital innovation.

Tue Aug 4 2015

Johnson & Johnson’s recruitment of MBAs and undergraduates surged by 20% last year, underscoring a hiring drive by the world’s biggest healthcare groups as the industry grapples with a rapidly ageing global population and new digital technologies.

J&J’s college hiring fell by 10% during 2012-13. But after revising its recruitment strategy with big data the company has turned that figure around.

Last year J&J sought to bring on more college hires and has increased the number of recruits it snaps up directly from academic programs.

Business schools have said the company has ramped up its recruiting presence; J&J is dispatching more alumni employees to speak with students at North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, for example, and has been involved in activities at Arizona State University.

The world’s largest healthcare company is a top recruiter at Europe’s IE Business School and SDA Bocconi, and Rutgers Business School, Duke Fuqua, Cornell Johnson and the Tepper School in the US. Data submitted to Bloomberg for MBA rankings show J&J recruited more than four times as many MBAs as its next closest competitor, Eli Lilly.

Elisa Zagami, head of career development at MIP Politecnico di Milano, said healthcare management is interesting for MBA candidates because companies tend to offer diversified recruitment opportunities.

Healthcare groups are looking for students with skills in accounting, leadership, relationship management and organizational behaviour, said Kimberly MacPherson, co-director of the Center for Health Technology at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

“Beyond that, MBAs need to be highly adaptive and solution-oriented, as the environment is in constant flux,” she said.

Health systems around the world face rising demand from an ageing population — this is driving up demand for managerial talent, say experts.

Meg Flournoy, health sector director at Duke Fuqua’s Career Management Center, said: “Demands from an aging population touch every corner of the healthcare industries — from medical devices to pharmaceuticals and from payers to providers.”

“As a market segments emerge and grow, job opportunities often expand in parallel,” she said, adding that leveraging a broad array of traditional business skills, such as strategy, finance, marketing, and operations is critical in today’s complex healthcare industry.  

Another area of career growth is around technological innovation —a key driver of both improvements in healthcare and increases in healthcare spending.

Big data in particular is promising around the support of research and innovation, said Professor Rainer Sibbel, academic director for the International Healthcare Management MBA at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

He said that analytics can help transform data into relevant information, which could be used to individualize care and create holistic and integrated healthcare programs to aid disease prevention.

Big data is having a “substantial impact” on healthcare, added Professor Fred Hagigi, director of global health initiatives at UCLA Anderson School of Management.

With the flow of data from everything from wearables to social media, “it’s a perfect storm”, he said.