Nikolaos Katsaros, MSc International Health Management 2020-21, student at Imperial College Business School
Programme:
MSc International Health Management
Nationality:
Greek
Education:

MPharm Pharmacy, University of Brighton

About you

What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?

My career journey commenced when I completed my undergraduate studies and acquired the MPharm Pharmacy degree from the University of Brighton. To become a fully-fledged pharmacist and to be able to practise in the United Kingdom, completion of a one-year internship is required within a community pharmacy or hospital. Thus, my first employment occurred as a pre-registration pharmacist in a residential pharmacy in Hove.

Shortly after acquiring my professional license, I engaged in my first entrepreneurial activity in partnership with my brother. By utilising our family’s capital, we established our own pharmacy in Glyfada, one of the most upcoming and increasingly famous suburbs of southern Athens, Greece. Due to my compulsory military service the project had to be delayed by a few months, therefore, operations initiated in late 2015. Following the business’ opening, several hardships emerged due to severe fluctuations in both market and non-market forces. All in all, the country experienced unprecedented political instability which reflected heavily upon all sectors of the economy, including healthcare services. This was not ideal for a newly founded business and after careful consideration and evaluation of our financial capabilities, the decision to exit the market was taken in late 2018.

Regardless of the outcome, my passion for providing pharmaceutical services and advice remained unchanged. In search of enhanced financial security, I returned to the UK to leverage networking opportunities. Since 2018, I have managed several independent, as well as big chain pharmacies in London and in South East England. My most recent employment, and the one on which I focused most of my professional expertise, was management of Chelsea Pharmacy in London. I was also employed by BUPA Cromwell Hospital as a bank pharmacist within the outpatient pharmacy department.

Although it has only been six years since my career started, I have gained experience by being both an employer and an employee. This has allowed room for my communication skills to fully develop resulting in the creation of robust professional partnerships. Currently, I am aiming to leverage my accumulated knowledge of the healthcare industry and pursue a career in management and strategy consulting.

Why did you decide to study MSc International Health Management at Imperial College Business School?

Having had experience in business management, I was in search of a programme which would hone my skills and capabilities in business development and market analysis. Being a healthcare professional, I was more interested in doing so through a programme which would target the healthcare industry.

By discussing with friends and colleagues about my objectives, I discovered the MSc International Health Management programme which, at first, seemed to be too good to be true. I was instantly intrigued by what the programme promised to deliver. My interest was considerably reinforced due to the global recognition that Imperial College Business School holds as one of the most successful academic institutions. To date, I truly believe that it has been the best academic investment I have ever made.

The programme delivers premium education through the introduction of versatile modules aiming at setting the foundations for several career paths. On top of this, through participation in team-oriented, real-life projects, students experience the core value of the programme and acquire skills that can be leveraged to boost their prospective careers.

Overall, the programme is tailored to enhance business acumen, offer additional market insights and uplift its attendees’ entrepreneurial spirit. Last but not least, it unlocks opportunities for an academic career.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you enjoy the most?

During the first term the programme focuses on defining the fundamentals of business management, and aims at addressing key business operations. These include elements of business strategy, marketing and accounting.

In the second term the programme adopts an entirely healthcare specialised approach with modules that focus on subjects such as public health and analysis of healthcare systems. Considering healthcare’s complexity as an industry, this smooth academic progression enables students to thoroughly perceive and master the knowledge presented to them at each stage of the academic year.

Moreover, another aspect of the programme which aids in its successful delivery is its effective administration. Personally, I feel that our Programme Managers and Academic Director went above and beyond to ensure smooth accessibility to lectures and career opportunities during the pandemic.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

I cannot provide a single answer to this question as I would not be doing justice to the wonderful lecturers leading the programme and their high-calibre educational approach. Modules which I particularly enjoyed were Business Strategy for Global Healthcare, Health Economics and Health Systems, Policy and Financing. These modules, and their respective coursework, provided a unique opportunity for students to address real-life healthcare projects ranging from creation of a pharmaceutical executive summary report to top-to-bottom analysis of healthcare systems. Active engagement in the completion of said coursework increased my critical thinking, provided me with the means to effectively analyse a country’s healthcare system and introduced me to the world of health economics.

What has been the most rewarding part of the programme?

In two words: the people. The nature of the programme predominantly attracts students who hold pre-existing professional backgrounds in healthcare and, those who do not, aspire to follow a career within the industry. On the day my cohort started the programme, Dr Benita Cox, the programme’s Academic Director and one of the loveliest individuals the students have had the opportunity to meet, told us that in healthcare most objectives are achieved collectively and it is rare for solo players to be successful. After all, running a hospital is completely different than running a big corporate organisation. Hospital staff members, apart from following the company’s protocol, need to promote patient care and safety. Safeguarding patients and achieving enhanced patient outcomes requires teamwork that is, primarily, compassion driven. In healthcare, competition is present, but it is not imposed upon its players.

These values and virtues are the connecting link between members of the cohort and their expression occurs subconsciously. Personally, I feel extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to meet like-minded people with whom I have developed long-lasting relationships.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

The programme is a Master’s degree, and it is therefore formulated to offer exclusive information and knowledge to its attendees. On this account, students who do not have preceding experience with a particular subject or module of the programme may be required to self-manage knowledge gaps to achieve higher grades. All module leaders acknowledge occurrence of such circumstances and provide adequate sources which students can refer to at their own time. Another aspect of the programme that can be particularly demanding is the fact that it is very fast-paced. Hence, to maximise efficiency and to be able to meet deadlines, students need to be prepared to fully utilise their organisational and time-management skills.

How have you found the multi-mode teaching delivery?

Imperial College Business School has deployed all its resources and infrastructure to ensure the pandemic’s effect on academic operations has been kept to a minimum. I personally believe that the multi-mode teaching method was immensely successful.

People

How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?

As mentioned before, the nature of the programme attracts people who are interested to start or develop their career within the healthcare domain. Therefore, the cohort encompasses, mostly, students with versatile, previously acquired and healthcare-related experience such as medics, pharmacists, biologists, etc.

Also, the programme’s success and reputation has resulted in the attraction of students from every corner of the world. Generally, most of the cohort has shown a keen interest in continuing their activity within the industry and will be doing so with enhanced motivation upon completion of the programme.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

Building rapport with lecturers and engaging with them during class is extremely important to effectively absorb the information they aim to deliver. Again, I cannot provide a single answer to the question as I enjoyed interacting with more than one of the professors. Hence, I would like to offer my gratitude to all professors and lecturers of the programme for sharing their expertise, organising and leading the modules efficiently and effectively and providing the cohort with support when required.

Opportunities

What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial?

The greatest opportunity was the ability to attend several online networking events. Networking is an aspect of the programme that the pandemic has affected the most. However, both programme leaders and career consultants made sure to expose students to as many prospective employers as possible.

Which workshops, events or guest lecturers at the School have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?

Students at Imperial College Business School are granted access to Careers, a service through which they can book one-to-one appointments with career consultants. Through this service, students can receive advice on how to construct an immaculate CV and cover letter. Careers also organise unique events which aim at connecting students with several organisations, and coordinate workshops that focus on improving specific skills.

Moreover, the academic material of the programme is connected to several guest lecturers whose purpose is to share their personal experience and provide market insight. Personally, I found extremely interesting the topic that Tim Thomas, NHS management consultant and guest speaker for the Health Systems, Policy and Financing module, introduced. He presented a real-life hospital management issue and provided students with the opportunity to analyse and suggest a course of action.

What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?

I have been a member of the Healthcare Career Club and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club since the beginning of the academic year. Membership in the Healthcare Career Club secures access to several healthcare-related workshops, as well as podcasts through which members can interact with current market leaders.

By engaging in events and workshops that the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Club offered, I was provided with the unique opportunity to observe market trends, discover entrepreneurial tools and sources, as well as expand my professional network.

I would strongly advise students to engage with roles in the SCC, and potentially the Dean’s Student Advisory Council, as they offer an exclusive opportunity to manage and add extra value to the cohort’s academic wellbeing. It is also another way to meet and interact with SCC leaders of other programmes and share views and management expertise.

How have you benefited from being part of the wider Imperial College London STEM community?

Joining Imperial is a unique experience for multiple reasons. The institute’s facilities and administration are second to none and their value is evident across all campuses. Imperial College Business School signifies exactly what its name represents. It provides all means required for developing a passion for business-related activities.

Career

What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?

My career objective is to become a management/strategy consultant within the healthcare industry. I envisaged following this career path before enrolling to the programme, however, my interest in doing so has gradually increased over the course of the year. As a consultant, I will be actively engaged in issues that affect patient outcomes, as well as be challenged to produce vigorous and long-lasting solutions. Another aspect of healthcare consulting which I enjoy is that it encompasses great project versatility. Examples are market access, market research and framework construction and projects that are directly linked to big pharmaceutical companies.

Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?

I am actively applying for roles associated with aspects of consulting which I mentioned earlier. I have not managed to secure a role yet, but I hope to have done so by the end of the academic year.

How did the services from Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?

Careers offers unique expertise and advice to prospective job candidates which immensely increases chances to be interviewed. They provide a range of services, from CV construction to effective tailoring of a student’s LinkedIn account. Above all, they offer one-to-one interview practice sessions which can be utilised upon receival of a candidate’s invitation to interview. These services have substantially aided me in landing several interviews for which I am currently preparing for.

London Location

Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?

London is a global crossroad where people with versatile ethnic and academic backgrounds interact with each other daily, thus creating an information sharing network. The city is constantly within a transformative state out of which opportunities develop and there is no sign of stagnation. Indeed, the pandemic paused this effect, but business development and operations will swiftly recover. Anticipating and grasping such opportunities is exactly what led me to join the outpatient pharmacy department within Cromwell Hospital. In London, the networking capacity is endless.

When you’re not studying, what do you enjoy doing?

I am deeply passionate about sports and reading novels. On weekends, I will most likely be contesting in a local tennis tournament or exercising my bouldering skills in one of the many climbing centres in London. For the last two years I have also been practising and honing my kickboxing technique. During summer I enjoy yachting in the vast open seas of the Aegean Islands. My most recently discovered hobby originates from attending specific modules of the MSc International Health Management programme: marketing. Specifically, I am currently building my own blogging website which will be addressing mainstream and rare health issues, symptomatology and available treatment options.

If you had to move to London for the programme, what have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London?

I believe that London is an immensely versatile and beautiful city. Each borough has something new and unique to offer with several venues and events taking place on multiple occasions. My advice to someone moving to London for the programme would be to find accommodation close to the South Kensington campus. Houses and flats in the outskirts of the city are cheaper but daily use of the underground will lead to accumulated expenses. By doing so you will also be able to enjoy the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea which I personally regard as one of the most elegant areas of London. Finally, I would advise a prospective Londoner to bring a good quality umbrella.

Tips

Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online webinars or on-campus information sessions?

Before joining the programme, I attended the online information session which analysed the programme’s goals and objectives. I highly suggest prospective students attend as many events as they possibly can. It is a unique opportunity to source information on what the programme they are interested in will be delivering.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?

All things considered, I would advise them to not think twice and hit the apply button.

Interested in applying for a scholarship to this programme?

Programme:
MSc International Health Management
Nationality:
Greek
Education:

MPharm Pharmacy, University of Brighton