How One Former NHS Doctor Is Using His MBA To Solve The UK’s Diagnostics Dilemma

Steve Powell is using the management skills he gained from an MBA at the University of Liverpool Management School to drive an innovative healthcare business forward

Leaving behind the comfort and safety of an existing job to build something from the ground up is a daunting prospect, but that’s exactly what Doctor Steve Powell did after completing his MBA at the UK’s University of Liverpool Management School.

Steve had worked for the National Health Service (NHS) since medical school and, after enhancing his management skills through the MBA, he used his new knowledge to take on the role as the director of Liverpool Life Science Accelerator, which provides lab space and support for healthcare startups.

Working at the accelerator, he saw an opportunity to create a bigger and better solution to the unmet need  for diagnostics in the UK healthcare industry and seized the opportunity to leave  the NHS to become chief diagnostics officer at Rutherford Diagnostics.

Rutherford Diagnostics is a subsidiary of Proton Partners International which operates a network of cancer centers nationally and—through diagnostic imaging, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and proton beam therapy—aims to provide all-encompassing cancer services for patients.

Working alongside the NHS, Steve aims to  make medical diagnosis earlier so, in his own words, “people can go out and enjoy their lives.”

BusinessBecause caught up with Steve to find out more.

Why did you decide to pursue the Liverpool MBA?

I was a consultant and radiologist at a teaching hospital in Liverpool and had grown to lead the department. There are a number of skills you need in these roles, and there’s an expectation that you’ll just pick them up, but to be a good manager you need to train.

The University of Liverpool Management School had a highly-ranked, global MBA program—a formal MBA with big focus on strategy and leadership. I thought it was a fantastic package and opportunity and that’s why I went for it.

What’s the value of an MBA for healthcare industry professionals?

Healthcare in this country is under constant pressure, turn on the news and you’ll hear all about it. As a clinical director, you’re permanently firefighting. There are sick people at your door who need help so you treat them one at a time, service by service, when actually there could be broader strategic changes made which would have a better effect.

Stepping away allowed me to assess things from a different perspective. It helped me think about it like a business. Healthcare institutions have huge deficits, but don’t do much to reduce these— a healthy knowledge of strategy makes a massive difference.

How have you applied your MBA learnings since business school?

We built the Liverpool Life Science Accelerator to bring new tech and exciting stuff to Liverpool, knowing our patients would benefit as a result. From my MBA, I quickly remembered the importance of networking. I used these skills and got a bunch of CEOs from small and medium-sized companies handing over business cards.

I also knew what entrepreneurs and startups would be looking for: sales, to broaden their network, and even trial a product. That’s not something that happens in the NHS, so they might have the best product, but no one will listen. Instead, I could put them in front of the relevant groups and I also put them in front of each other. They’d get opportunity, shared space, and shared knowledge.

At Rutherford, very quickly we needed to develop a radical strategy and robust business model that we could take to investors so we could roll out cancer centers across the UK. The Liverpool MBA helped me do that.

What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?

The University of Liverpool Management School MBA will add tremendous value to how you operate on a daily basis. It’s not all plain sailing though, you’ll have to endure difficulties, but it’s the hard road that leads to success. There are challenging elements like group work, but that’s what helps you become a good leader.

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