Alexa Gilbert, MBA ‘16: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Business

Alexa Gilbert, Rotman MBA '16, Senior Manager, Clinical Development, Assurex Health

Alexa Gilbert, Rotman MBA ’16, Senior Manager, Clinical Development, Assurex Health

During the day, Alexa Gilbert is the Senior Manager, Clinical Development at Assurex Health and, in the evening, she is a student at our part-time MBA program. Alexa chatted with us about the benefits of having an MBA in the healthcare field and what led her to choose the Rotman MBA program.

Tell us a bit about your professional background and what led you to apply to Rotman?

I grew up in Montreal where I obtained my MSc in Experimental Medicine at McGill University.  About 3 years ago, I was looking to advance in my career – at the time I was working for a contract research organization (CRO), which is an entity that pharmaceutical companies typically hire to manage their clinical trials. I moved to the greater Toronto area when I landed a job in Burlington that was still in the CRO sector, but had greater responsibilities than my previous position. I had already been thinking about doing my MBA for a few years. Knowing that Rotman’s MBA program is the best program in Canada, I decided to apply. The opportunity to tap into a network that has such a great reputation; it’s priceless!

What do you think about the need for MBAs in healthcare? What is your advice to someone in healthcare who is thinking about MBA?

I don’t know if the MBA is appropriate for everyone, but it is a good way to open your eyes beyond your particular field, in my case that of life sciences. From my experience in graduate school, you are often focused on your own one research topic and you can easily forget that there is a bigger world out there. The MBA gives you a broader perspective and can help you transition into a managerial role by helping you develop management skills that can be used in the healthcare industry.

You mentioned a lot of research stays in academia, while the point of this research is to benefit humanity as a whole.

Yes, this is why I always say: I am doing my MBA to help bridge the gap between science and business. There is a great demand for people with skills in both areas. Once you’ve done the research, then you have to get the commercialization part right – to make it viable so that people can benefit from the discoveries. I think it can be beneficial even for people who already have their PhD or MD. The MBA is an additional tool.

You said that there is a demand for the MBA in the healthcare setting. Is this demand more than before and why do you think that is?

The demand is definitely growing. It is not often you will see people in healthcare with an MBA. Having a science degree means you have the ability to research, evaluate, and critically interpret and analyze data while an MBA provides you with the business acumen you need for knowledge translation and commercialization of those innovations.  The innovations, through commercialization, will eventually improve public health and provide more effective health services to strengthen the healthcare system. 

Final question – Where do you see your career going? How do you envision the MBA helping you with your career?

I would not have secured my current position at Assurex Health without the MBA experience and support from the amazing career services. Even if I am not using everything I’m learning in the MBA program, I am conscious that the concepts exist and I perform in a way that is most beneficial for the entire company and shareholders rather than just for myself or my projects.  That means I am thinking more strategically about which projects I take on as well as about how these tie in with the company’s priorities and resources.  As I continue to learn and get exposed to different facets of the biotech industry, I am hoping to become a resource for innovators that are trying to bring their novel technologies to market.


If you want to discuss whether the Rotman part-time MBA is a right fit for you, fill out this contact form with your details. Our admissions team would happy to hear from you.

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