Dr Emma Stanton

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Emma Stanton graduated from Imperial College Business School in 2009 after completing an Executive MBA. We spoke to Emma about her career, the challenges in her field and the importance of business experience in the healthcare industry.

Emma Stanton credits her entry into healthcare to the fast-paced and dynamic experience she had as a teenager during a work experience placement. She recalls trying two fields: law and medicine, and it was in the hospital that she felt most inspired: ‘I spent time shadowing a paediatrician in a busy hospital. We literally ran all day. She [my supervising doctor] was deeply impressive, incredibly intelligent and was making a meaningful difference to people’s lives,’ Emma recalls. Today, Emma applies her entrepreneurial spirit, business knowledge and years of experience as a trained physician in her role as Associate Chief Medical Officer at Beacon Health Options (Beacon).

While the majority of her time is spent in the US, a large component of her role that requires her entrepreneurial mind-set is the UK arm of Beacon where she is Chief Executive; ‘In August 2011 I set up Beacon UK. At that time it was me, a laptop and a pack of business cards. I was given a mandate from the US leadership team to ‘go build the business for the UK.’’

Emma now brings us up to speed: ‘That was just over 4 years ago. Now we are preparing to Go-Live with our first UK operational contracts in Birmingham and Surrey. These operations will co-locate Beacon UK clinical teams to work alongside our NHS partners in pioneering contracts to improve mental health services for children and young people, a population that we are passionate about.’

The fusion of business and medicine was a logical step for Emma. Gaining further knowledge of business function became an obvious requirement for her to move forward in her career:

‘When doctors are typically asked to write business cases, we don’t innately have an understanding of how to do that. Writing business plans and workflows are not taught in medical school. So, as I became interested in management and leadership roles in medicine, I knew I needed to improve some of those organisational skills. That’s why I decided to do an MBA – to gain broader experience beyond direct patient care so that I could be involved in not just directly delivering healthcare, but actually improving the ecosystem around it,’ said Emma.

Business knowledge gained through an MBA can be applied to any number of industries, and it is that versatility, in combination with real-world experience, that makes the programme so impactful to a career. This broad skillset has helped Emma in her career, as she says: ‘I think the MBA is part of the skill set that I have accumulated over a number of years that helped prepare me for a career beyond direct patient care. Having an MBA enabled me to apply to be a Commonwealth Harkness Fellow in 2010-2011 where I undertook research at Harvard University. It was while I was in Boston during that year that I was introduced to Beacon. Being able to demonstrate that I was a physician who was able to think more broadly and strategically, which is essentially what an MBA shows, gave my employers confidence in me.’

Today Emma is mainly based in the US, but 20% of her time remains dedicated to the UK, where she is Chief Executive of Beacon UK. The variety of her work has enabled her to acquire a unique experience within the healthcare sector:

‘While at Beacon I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of health care organisations with different leadership styles facing different population health challenges. That is more than I would have been exposed to solely working within one organisation in the NHS. My role with Beacon has allowed me to broaden the scope of what I am doing. In the UK, Beacon remains a relatively new organisation. Being external to the NHS has also given me a platform to challenge the status quo in a way that is quite hard to do when you are inside the institution, and that has been exciting,’ said Emma.

For the future, Emma plans to focus her efforts on transforming mental health care in a data-driven way on both sides of the Atlantic.

*Follow Emma Stanton on Twitter: @doctorpreneur

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