Gerry Alcantara

Gerry Alcantara

About you

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

Prior to leaving for the UK for full-time studies, I spent more than seven years working in the Philippine health sector in various capacities. I was Health Systems and Access Manager for the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), which exposed me to the research-based pharmaceutical industry as I worked closely with our member companies. Prior to this, I worked mostly in public health sector reform and research, as a consultant for the USAID-commissioned Health Policy Development Programme and an employee of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation. I started out my career building strong foundations in research, through a research/teaching assistant post for a mentor of mine in college, Dr. John Wong, who was recently awarded the Roux Prize. At about the same time, I managed a student-led health enterprise called Project Laan.

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

I pursued MSc International Health Management at Imperial College Business School because I was at a point in my career when I felt like I needed to build my management and commercial acumen. My work at PHAP made me realise that I wanted to pursue strategic/management roles in the private sector. I was drawn to the innovative structure of the programme, which took a practical approach to fusing core management and health disciplines. It’s also a privilege to be studying at Imperial, one of the finest educational institutions in the world!

Did you receive a scholarship?

Yes, I am a recipient of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s Chevening Scholarship. My scholarship is also partly supported by GSK. I am truly grateful that the scholarship provided for my tuition, accommodation, and living expenses. This enabled me to focus on my studies, seize the learning opportunities that Imperial had to offer, and really experience life in the UK.

Programme

What aspects of the programme do you most enjoy, and find most rewarding?

I really enjoyed those times when our Professors would invite speakers who would talk about their experiences in the real world. The guest lecturers made the principles come to life and provided depth to our learning. I also enjoyed reading the case studies for different modules.

Which has been your favourite module so far and why?

I’m torn between our Management Challenges for Healthcare Organisations module and Healthcare Sector Project. Both are application-focused, but quite different in scope. Learning about the NHS and its current challenges from a management perspective was very enlightening.

As for our Healthcare Sector Project, I am really enjoying working with GE Healthcare towards improving cancer care. Our project is probably the best application of what I’ve learnt on this programme, and it’s really promising to know that GE is committed to implement this. I’m very fortunate to be working with the most brilliant, passionate and dedicated individuals in my team, and as Project Manager, it feels great to learn with and through them.

What has been the most challenging part of the programme?

I know exams are a normal part of a student’s life, but I continue to dread them to this day! On MSc International Health Management, we had exams for all five modules condensed into one week. They were mostly essay exams, so the preparations were quite overwhelming. Nonetheless, they were quite useful, as they enabled me to synthesise and process what I learnt from the modules.

People

How do you describe your cohort at imperial?

Ours is a very diverse cohort, with a mix of fresh graduates and experienced professionals who like myself, were hoping to transition in their careers. I’ve worked with exceptional individuals who had backgrounds ranging from public sector, medtech, clinicians and allied health professions, consulting, hospital management, among others. This enriched class interactions and group work.

Did you have a favourite professor/lecturer and why?

I can speak of a few lecturers who really left a mark. Professor Marisa Miraldo who taught us Health Economics was definitely one of them, because she was so passionate about teaching and mentoring students. We had to turn in a full economic evaluation for the module which was quite challenging, but she mentored us every step of the way. Professor Harpreet Sood is another. He was just brilliant, challenging us to think about how to deal with today’s most pressing issues in healthcare management.

Imperial places a large emphasis on group work; what did you like the most about working in this type of environment?

I must admit that working in groups was quite challenging especially when we were randomly assigned into teams. Nonetheless, I did learn so much because each individual brought in a different perspective/experience to the team. I do agree that in the real world, we don’t really get to choose whom we work with, so respecting people’s differences, the humility of compromising, being a team player and contributing as much value, and leading when given the opportunity are some of the most useful lessons I’ve gained or reinforced.

Opportunities

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

As I mentioned earlier, my team was fortunate to be selected by GE Healthcare on a Consulting Project to improve cancer care. This was an incredible opportunity to make a difference and learn in the process.

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

I do remember valuing our sessions with Ms. Claire Perry, an NHS CEO who gave us very straightforward insights on hospital management and her experiences at the NHS. She also shared about her career journey, and how she equipped herself for the challenges of being a CEO.

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

I participated in a few events organised by the Healthcare Club, such as workshops and a trip to the GSK Headquarters. I was also part of Imperial’s telethon campaign team, which allowed me to speak to our alumni who took the time to share their career journey and how Imperial has indeed equipped them for the challenging journey ahead.

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

I’ve found that Imperial is a hub for a lot of cutting-edge research, and we’re truly fortunate that this knowledge is shared with us first-hand through our Professors and guest speakers.

Career

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

I dream of becoming part of a global healthcare company’s senior management, making strategic decisions about how a business should move forward and create tangible impact in the lives of people. At some point in the future, I would like to settle in my home country and join the public sector once again, channeling the skills I’ve acquired from industry into making critical health reforms a reality. I feel that studying at Imperial is my first step towards an international career, not only by building my knowledge but also linking me to mentors and networks.

How did the services from Imperial College Business School Careers help in your professional development/securing employment?

Careers have been truly helpful throughout the job application process, helping us market ourselves to potential employers and preparing us for crucial stages (e.g. assessment centres).

London location

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

Yes, I’ve attended key health conferences and events here at London. The NHS and many multinationals are also pursuing innovative initiatives in the city, so it has been helpful that knowledge and contacts are just within reach.

Where do you live in London and why did you choose to live there?

I am currently staying near Clapham Common, which is quite accessible from school. It’s a lovely community.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time in London? Have you had opportunities to travel?

I am really enjoying the theater, markets, gardens, parks, and historical sites of London. I’m lucky to be part of a cohort of 27 Chevening scholars from the Philippines who are studying in different areas of the UK, so travelling has been more fun and convenient. I’m a photography enthusiast, and everything is just so picturesque here

What have been the benefits and challenges of moving to London? What advice would you give to someone in a similar position?

London is a beautiful place to live in and everything is quite accessible from here. Imperial is a fantastic place to learn and build your network. Compared to other areas in the UK, however, it can be very expensive especially on a student budget. Living away from home also has its drawbacks, such as feeling homesick and getting accustomed to a new environment. It’s important to prepare both emotionally and financially and to never hesitate to ask for help when necessary.

Tips

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

Yes, I attended an online webinar and an online lecture. They were quite useful in answering some of the practical questions I had at that time and building my expectations for the programme.

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

Do your research and get as much information as you can about the programme – the website, scheduled events, chats with alumni, communication with the programme managers are all very helpful to inform your decision. It would also be helpful to compare the programme with similar ones offered in other UK universities. Everything also boils down to your reasons for pursuing the degree, so make sure these are crystallised, so that you can make the most out of your time at Imperial.

Gerry Lyn Evora Alcantara

MSc International Health Management 2017-18

Nationality: Filipino

Undergraduate Education: BSc Health SciencesAteneo de Manila University & Master’s in Development Economics, University of the Philippines

Job after Imperial College Business School: Market Access Lead, Boehringer Ingelheim

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