Throughout his career, Evan Meles has been interested in identifying technology’s place in healthcare. He worked with an electronic health record vendor for several years before taking a healthcare consulting role at Salesforce, where he was motivated to improve patient and provider experiences. In these roles, he developed a strong skill set in communications and understanding business needs but sought to better his understanding of finance, team management, and leadership. He is now in his first year of the Executive MBA/MS in Healthcare Leadership program, offered by the Cornell SC Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.
“I was so inspired by the opportunity to have two degrees,” he said, “where you develop a strong business foundation but also get a degree specific to healthcare leadership. In having both, you’re able to develop the skills you need to lead a multidisciplinary healthcare team.”
In his search for an MBA program, Evan considered online or remote offerings but is especially grateful for the in-person experience at Cornell. His cohort is comprised of mid- to senior-level individuals from marketing and insurance companies, pharma, and biotech, as well as physicians, nurses, and other leaders in healthcare. They initially met at the first of four residential sessions, which he describes as providing protected time for students to dedicate themselves to learning and get to know each other. They also meet for classes every other weekend, and frequently collaborate on group assignments.
“It’s awesome working with the cohort. Everyone has a different personal experience with healthcare and a different view of any number of challenges we’re facing,” he explained. “Being able to listen to people in class and understand their motivations, especially through the stories they tell, is really great.”
He recognizes that the program is not without its challenges, given that everyone involved in the program balances the coursework with their work schedules. It has taught him, however, to be efficient with his time as it extends to his classes, work, and family. It’s also prepared him to account for other people’s schedules and work styles, a skill he expects to carry well beyond the program.
One of his favorite courses thus far has been his marketing class with Dr. Tommaso Bondi, assistant professor of marketing, where students learn how to position a company and make informed decisions about the products being developed. He lauds Dr. Bondi for bringing in speakers from various healthcare industries to share their insights.
“[Taking Dr. Bondi’s course] was definitely when I knew I made the right decision about the program,” he said. “I was so excited to go to class every week, and I didn’t have that same excitement anywhere else.”
Evan is also appreciative of the coaching provided by the program. He and his fellow students are assigned to learning teams with a coach that helps navigate their group dynamic and ensure productivity. In addition, career coaching is available, and has taught him how to leverage his professional and personal network in a job search. In his next year, he hopes to take further advantage of the leadership coaching available, which focuses on teaching effective communication, resolving interpersonal conflicts, and structuring teams. He is also excited to provide mentorship to the incoming cohort, which is guidance he presently receives from the cohort above him.
His goals have evolved since being in the program, and he welcomes the idea of a career path that doesn’t follow a straight line. When he started the program, he expected to one day become the chief information officer at a hospital. While that remains a priority, his larger goal is to continue using his experience in health tech to influence the industry in a way that makes people’s lives easier.
“The bane of many doctor’s existences are electronic medical records,” he explained. “They're sometimes required to click through all these unnecessary buttons or have notes that are 5000 words long. My passion is finding new ways to make technology that healthcare workers want to use. Ideally, something that is a joy to use.”