Pharmacist Arron Sahota is a senior management consultant and recent Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduate.
What is your role and the associated tasks and responsibilities?
I am the senior management consultant for Four Eyes Insight, a specialist consulting firm that finds, delivers and implements efficiencies for hospitals. We employ tools and processes, such as data analytics and operational best practice, to support required change.
My team and I are accountable for managing and coordinating the successful delivery of operational and cost-improvement programmes that evaluate patient flow, job planning and demand and capacity modelling for various departments including operating theatres, outpatients and emergency. A core aspect of the job is engagement and collaboration with hospital staff to understand organisational strategy, processes and operational challenges in order to implement positive changes.
I am able to utilise my previous clinical and managerial NHS experiences to identify and implement opportunities for improvement and cost efficiency. Other duties involve attending senior management meetings, analysing financials and presenting update reports to the organisation.
What path did you take to get to where you are today?
I completed my preregistration training at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, in the West Midlands, after acquiring my pharmacy degree from Aston University in 2012. I worked as a hospital pharmacist rotating through various specialities until progressing to divisional lead for four specialities, including critical care, theatres and electronic prescribing and medicines administration. I also completed my postgraduate clinical diploma and independent prescribing qualifications during this time.
In 2017, I completed a full-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) at Aston University, because I thought it would supplement my managerial and business skills to make positive changes within the NHS. I also undertook an interim project and change-management role for a hospital-wide cost-improvement project that involved contract review, project implementation and stakeholder management.
What does completing an MBA involve?
The MBA is a qualification suitable for individuals with at least three years’ professional work experience. It equips people with the skills and knowledge to become successful leaders and senior managers. Modules include accounting and finance, marketing, strategy, and change management and operations. The MBA can be undertaken full time or part time, known as an ‘executive MBA’.
At Aston University, the course combines practical and academic teaching to ensure successful development. There is a mixture of lectures, directed reading, practical case studies, simulations, interactive workshops, industry expert seminars, consulting opportunities and participation in global competitions. The knowledge gained can be applied to case studies and real-life scenarios carried out in both independent and group-learning situations, allowing demonstration of critical and analytical thinking. Assessments consist of presentations, portfolios, essays and exams.
What have you gained from the course?
My ultimate career goal is to assume a senior leadership position within healthcare — a goal I believe I am capable of achieving, having completed an MBA. It has enhanced my personal and professional development, and improved my business acumen and confidence working in unfamiliar environments, such as dealing with senior management. I now possess insight into a variety of business areas and take a holistic approach to different situations, which helps build credibility.
During the course, I discovered an interest in change-management frameworks and their practical applications. I also reflected on my career, passions and goals. The MBA provided opportunities to network and develop connections, both globally and with peers on the same course and other institutes — all opportunities I might not have been exposed to otherwise.
I also had the opportunity to experience different cultures and business practices through exchange programmes in France and China. I am more confident in my interactions with other people, regardless of background, more open-minded and emotionally intelligent, which helps to build stronger relationships.
What are the negative aspects of doing an MBA?
Personally, I do not believe pursuing an MBA has many setbacks; however, it can be extremely challenging. The MBA is an intense course, and at times you may doubt your ability because of the pressures and challenging nature of the content. However, I feel this an important part of the experience that builds further resilience and confidence in handling unfamiliar situations.
What should pharmacy professionals consider before starting a course?
Pharmacy professionals should consider what they want to achieve from the course, and how this supports their career goals and aspirations. Individuals must ensure they are committed to the qualification and have the professional and personal support needed to complete it. The course is a big personal and financial investment; propective students must understand their learning styles and personal circumstances to determine if a full-time or executive MBA would be the most suitable option for them. Timing is also crucial, and consideration of when to undertake an MBA should be factored into individual circumstances.
What advice would you give to pharmacists wishing to pursue an MBA?
MBA content will vary between universities; therefore, it would be prudent to consider which institute’s qualification aligns most closely to your professional needs.
The MBA journey is one of personal development. There will be many positive experiences, but also moments of doubt. Do not lose faith in your ability; any experience being good or bad is an opportunity to develop and better yourself.
The MBA also has a vast support network, and others are available to help support you if needed. Learning from peers is a big part of the course, and your peers and tutors will be more than happy to help and share their wealth of knowledge and experience.