2018 Best EMBAs: Olufunke Agbasi, Indiana University (Kelley)

Olufunke Agbasi

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Business of Medicine Physician MBA

Emerging physician executive who is trustworthy, reflective, intentional, and passionate about the business of medicine.”

Age: 39

Hometown: Originally from Ibadan, Nigeria; my adopted home is now Houston, TX

Family Members: Daniel (son), Timothy (dad), and Maria (mom).

Fun fact about yourself: I love music, especially singing and dancing, and travelling. I have sung in front of 500 people at a concert. I rode a zip-line and parasailed in Hawaii and got to fly a small plane as a co-pilot with a colleague.

Undergraduate School and Degree: College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Where are you currently working? Memorial Hermann Hospital, Houston TX. Current Role – Associate Director of Medical Operations.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Tar Wars Presenter – A tobacco free education program for children for kids (organized by the American Academy of Family Physicians). Lead Vocalist and Member of the D.I.C. Choir, Houston.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My research paper in my law and ethics class posed a question regarding the role of physicians in gun violence. Professor Julie Magid, my law and ethics professor, commended me and encouraged me to get my paper published. This is currently in the works. I have been able to present a synopsis of this article on QuantiaMD, a platform subscribed to by over 200,000 physicians and was able to stimulate some conversations among the physician group regarding the subject of gun violence. The link is included here.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Getting my MBA done! I have always been fascinated by the business world and, as a medical student, wanted to understand how successful businesses thrived and why some others failed. I was also privileged to be part of a team that turned one of the flagship Concentra clinics in Houston, TX from a loss to a profit. I learned collaboration, and that skill triggered a passion to earn my MBA – something I had always yearned for.

I constantly seek ways to improve myself. After the loss of my husband three years ago, I decided it was time to invest my time in what was meaningful to me. Making my life count is important. I am very glad that I embraced the decision to start this MBA; this journey has changed my world view and empowered me to make a difference in my healthcare world.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Every professor was my favorite until I started a new class, then I found a new favorite. Two professors, however, stand out in my journey – Professor Christopher Porter and Professor Phil Powell. The leadership course, taught by Professor Porter, was the primary reason I enrolled in the MBA program. I wanted to gain more insight into my style of leadership and build on my weaknesses to make me the effective leader and communicator I desired. Macroeconomics by Professor Powell changed my worldview. Understanding basic tenets that serve as the foundation of institutions – cooperation instead of conflict – is a principle that is applicable to every layer of business and management.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? My favorite course was negotiation and conflict resolution. I learned essential life skills that transcend beyond the world of business. I have learned, most importantly, that not all conflict can be resolved and realizing that early will prevent “weariness of your soldiers.” I run the risk of losing great talent when I hold on to good talent. Sometimes letting go of good allows great to come.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? It was important to me to complete my MBA in a class of like-minded individuals – physicians. Kelley is very highly ranked so that definitely was an attraction. Most importantly, I wanted a program where there was more interaction among the students and a program where lasting relationships could be built. I am honored that I have found all this and more at the Kelley Business of Medicine Physician MBA program.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The friendships that I have built over the last 21 months.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Find opportunities to improve the status quo; opportunities abound to the one who is seeking that. I have learned that a person doesn’t need a title to effect change. Learning and growing my “personal power” is paramount. Before I got hired in my current role of associate director of medical operations, I looked for opportunities for process improvement and coordinated with my boss to improve patient care. Once the position for the ADMO was budgeted for, I was offered the position without applying for it. I had effectively built my personal power before I got my positional power as the ADMO. My subordinates and colleagues follow me not because of my title, but because of my personal power.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I am a single mom raising a 5-year-old son with special needs. Enrolling in the MBA helped me prioritize my time and weed out “time wasters.” In May 2017, I was enrolled in finance and marketing. A few days before the monthly residency weekend, my son got ill and was diagnosed with pneumonia. I was extremely worried and considered missing residency, but my wonderful parents reassured me that he would be fine and would look after him. It was one of those times I realized I couldn’t have completed this program without the support of my parents. Finance remains the most intense course; one that would have been challenging to recover from if I was behind.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? “Just do it!” Apply to the Kelley Physician MBA program; it will be one of the best career decisions you could ever make.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Life will get so busy that you are at risk of ignoring vital relationships like that with your family. Yes, life did get busy and it forced me to manage my time better, but I was still able to engage my family members, albeit not as much as I would have loved.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not doing this program sooner!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Dr. Patricia Purcell – she went through a very difficult health challenge and didn’t miss a beat or disengage. She is the epitome of strength and determination.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized how broken the relationship is between physicians and healthcare administrators. My ultimate goal is to be the bridge that connects these two so that patients reap the benefit of a functional dyad.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…practicing urgent care and trying to “learn the ropes” of administration by trial and error.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Help solve the healthcare crises of fraud, waste, and abuse. Create a seamless process for patients to get the best care at an affordable cost.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? If your life is better because we met, then it is good we met.

Favorite book: The Bible

Favorite movie or television show: The Lord of the Rings

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Travel the world, meet new people, learn new cultures
  • Join a music group and go on tours and sing regularly

What made Olufunke such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Funke is one of the most inspiring students I have encountered in over 30 years of university teaching. As a young physician in Texas, she was a dealt of terrible blow in the unexpected death of her husband, which suddenly left her as a single mother of a 2-year old special-needs child. Rather than be crushed by this tragedy, she extracted a hard lesson from it: Life is short, and she should not wait to pursue her dreams. As part of that pursuit, she joined the Business of Medicine Physician MBA program, and has been one of the true standouts in the program, extracting every possible drop of learning from every class, and routinely lifting the spirits of her classmates, professors and program staff. Funke has used her MBA to grow as a leader, as reflected in her recent appointment as associate director of operations for a large hospital in Houston. And she has done all of this while remaining dedicated to raising her young son. Funke is a wonderful person, and we are honored that she chose the Business of Medicine Physician MBA program to help her on her life journey.”

Anthony D. Cox, Ph.D.

Chair, Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program

Professor of Marketing

Indiana University Kelley School of Business


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