Dr. Sailaja Bhaskar is the Executive Director, Research & Development with Purdue Pharma Canada, and most recently a new student in Rotman’s One-Year Executive MBA. Sailaja has 29 years of work experience, 22 of which have been progressive roles in leading drug development for various therapeutic areas in the pharmaceutical industry. We spoke with her to find out why she chose to earn an Executive MBA and how the experience one month into the program compared to her expectations.
R: What were your main reasons for applying to the Executive MBA? Why did you choose Rotman?
S: I’m a scientist and I have been in drug development for the past 22 years, and my work has always been primarily in research and development. I knew I could add more value to the science if I understood the business aspects better. So I was learning about the business aspects on my own but soon realized that I would maximize my learning in a structured environment such as an EMBA.
I chose Rotman because it is very highly ranked in the world, and a highly ranked, competitive school would attract some of the best teachers and some of the best students.
The other reason is my son is studying for his undergrad at the University of Toronto!
R: How has your life, your family, and/or work changed since you joined the program?
S: My life is a lot busier now and being back in school after so many years is tough and at times overwhelming and intimidating. It has also forced me to re-think the boundaries of my comfort zone and re-assess my daily routine. The program is challenging and requires a lot of commitment and juggling work, school and family priorities. But I am not alone in this journey; my family, my friends, my team at work are all extremely supportive and their support makes everything a little easier.
R: Has anything changed as a result of your studies? Are you able to apply what you’ve learned in class back at work?
S: Plenty! It’s only been one month of classes and already I feel like there are so many things that I can explain better, or I understand better from a business perspective. I’m just amazed at how much I have learned in just the last month.
R: What is the best part of the program so far?
S: The best part of the program are my classmates, the teachers, and the support we get from the program directors. They’re just fantastic! And the teachers are outstanding.
R: What didn’t you expect? What was different once you were actually taking classes compared to your expectations when you applied?
S: Everyone told me it would get busy, but I could not have anticipated how busy it could get. Some days need a bit more juggling of priorities than others, and managing such a busy schedule requires a lot of planning and discipline. I am being challenged every day because the program and the course materials encourage a completely new way of thinking which is invaluable.
R: What are you looking forward to the most?
S: The leadership training sounds very interesting, but you know what really caught my attention? I am really curious about behavioural economics and organizational behaviour. I find it is something I would like to explore further.
Research and development is very demanding and requires team work. It goes without saying that sound science in drug development is salient but equally important is understanding customer behaviour. It’ll be good to learn more about organizational behaviour and behavioural economics and bring the learning back to work.
Rotman’s One-Year Executive MBA empowers managers, executives, and entrepreneurs to become better leaders. In 13 months, students gain robust business training and transformational leadership skills they need to take their careers to the next level.
Learn more about how the One-Year Executive MBA can broaden your impact at one of our upcoming webinars or other events.