Christiano van Zeller
Academic and industry experience before Imperial
What work experience/internships did you have before beginning with Imperial College Business School?
Before beginning at Imperial, I had worked for four years as a junior doctor in the NHS in England, with experience in many care settings, such as General Practice and Hospital medicine. I have also been the co-founder of a student association, representing Portuguese medical students studying abroad within Europe.
Studying MSc International Health Management
Why did you decide to study an MSc in International Health Management and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?
Imperial College, and its Business School, have a phenomenal reputation worldwide. I knew I wanted to be at an institution that signified high quality education and was a trusted brand for any employer throughout the world. I wanted to study Health Management because I wanted to transition my career from the clinical frontline to healthcare management. I knew that building a strong educational foundation in this subject would support me in this endeavour. The MSc allowed me to get a very good understanding of the issues affecting healthcare globally and provided me with the tools to effect the sort of change and impact I wish for in my future career. Finally, I wanted to learn from my colleagues and I knew that with its international focus, I would be studying with students from all over the world, which greatly enriched my learning experiences this year.
What makes the MSc International Health Management at Imperial College Business School unique?
Firstly, there is the international side of the student body, allowing us to learn not just from the phenomenal lecturers but also the students. Secondly, being inserted within the Business School and not as part of a Medical faculty, demonstrates the greater commercial and enterprising focus that the degree has. Finally, this also allowed me to get exposure to a wide variety of individuals, businesses and organisations involved in health, such as: management consultancies, health insurers, medical devices and pharmaceutical companies, charities, and governmental organisations.
What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?
I thoroughly enjoyed the group work. Although most clinical work is done in teams, the impact of the level and quality of group commitment, and the challenges that arise from that were excellent learning opportunities that I had not been faced with before and will be invaluable to my next career in health consulting.
What has been the most challenging part of the programme?
The group work and juggling the multiple deadlines and commitments acquired throughout the year, whilst conciliating part-time clinical work. Towards the end of group projects that became more complex as the year went by, there was a lot of pressure to conclude everything on time.
Which has been your favourite module so far and why?
Health Economics and Health Systems, Policy and Financing. They achieved the core goal I had when coming to the MSc, which was to have a succinct, simple and still comprehensive education on how healthcare systems are organised and decisions are made worldwide. They provided a fundamental baseline from which more complex understanding of healthcare delivery and management can be built on.
Which seminars, events or guest lectures at the school have been useful in developing your skills and knowledge?
The school organises a number of conferences and talks throughout the year, through the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Innovation, that are attended by very prominent world experts in this field which are a great opportunity to learn about what is being done globally. From a careers perspective, the multiple presentations by employers were a great way to understand what job prospects are available to people.
Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?
Pedro Rosa Dias was certainly the most enthusiastic professor of all. His passion for his subject was infectious and made what can be complex information very easy to comprehend.
Imperial places a large emphasis on group work, what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?
To me, group work allowed me to identify the areas of my knowledge and expertise that I lack and those that can be useful, including because they are rare, and how to appropriately seek help from others or provide help to others to better function as a group.
How would you describe your cohort at Imperial?
Diversity of nationalities, of professional experiences, of personalities, of abilities and interests. No two people had the same profile and this was by far one of the top sources of learning and development any student can have in their year.
What clubs, societies or other activities have you been involved in at Imperial?
I have been involved in the Imperial Consulting Group, working with a medical devices startup, the Biopharma and Healthcare Club, as well as being a student ambassador for my programme.
Opportunities from studying at Imperial
What has been the greatest opportunity you have had at Imperial that you wouldn’t get anywhere else?
The opportunity to learn from such a diverse group of students.
Career goals and jobs
How have you benefited from the services provided by Careers?
I have used Careers a lot this whole year. The preparation modules pre-programme was a great way to find my way around the multiple things the careers service do to help students, and this was reinforced during the induction week. I have used the service for every single application I did, to review my CV, cover letter, interview preparation and contract negotiations. They have always been very easy to book appointments with and all the careers advisors are excellent!
What are your future career goals and how have they been realised since being at Imperial?
I intend to work in health consulting for the next three-five years. From then on, I have plans to either go into hospital management, continue in consulting or look into moving into investing in health. Since studying Imperial, I have been offered jobs in both health consulting, one of which I took, and, more broadly, healthcare management.
Have you received any job offers since commencing your programme?
I have received offers from Pharmaceutical focused consultancies, Health and Public sector consultancies, which I accepted and will be taking up in September, and NHS management organisations. They were all Analyst or Senior Analyst roles.
Life as a student in London
Do you think studying in a central location such as London is beneficial for networking and career opportunities?
Being in London, the centre of Finance and Business in Europe, was crucial to applying for the masters. Besides having access to an immense array of employers, many of them at walking distance, nowhere in Europe has the ability to attract the talented professionals and guest lecturers that the College has managed to.
Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?
I live in Vauxhall, South London. I wanted to be somewhere different to where all my colleagues were, having lived in West London for the whole period I lived in London prior to October 2016, and thought living close to my fellow Portuguese nationals would be a sensible idea, especially as a way of accessing Portuguese food.
What can a weekend in London look like for an MSc student?
Most weekends are reserved for leisure, although towards the deadlines of our assignments we took part of the weekend to do some work (it all depends on how organised the group is!). For me, weekends always involve a degree of sport in one of London’s parks or football pitches, drinks with friends in the evenings and going to watch films, plays or concerts.
Advice for future students
Looking back to when you were applying for the programme, did you attend any online or on campus information sessions? Did you find these a useful part of the recruitment process? Would you recommend that prospective students attend these events?
Most of the knowledge I gained from the programme was by speaking to students. It was, for me, the best way to get a real understanding of the degree with all the good and less good things, in an honest manner. Notwithstanding the quality of the information provided in the MSc webpage, which was extensive and answered most of my questions, speaking to someone who had done the degree answered all the secondary questions that are still crucial in making a decision.
MSc International Health Management, 2016-17
Pre-MSc International Health Management: MBChB Medicine at University of Manchester
Job after Imperial College Business School: Analyst Consultant at Carnall Farrar