Student Name: Mahek A. Shah
Describe Yourself In 15 Words: A multi-faceted leader who effortlessly connects innovation, business, and healthcare to create impact and change globally.
Hometown: Houston, TX.
Fun Fact About Yourself: My first job was as a film critic at the local city newspaper; my boss was Elvis Mitchell, who later became a New York Times film critic. I still love film, because like medicine, it is part art and part science (cinematography, editing, marketing, etc.)
Undergraduate School and Major: Rice University, BA in Economics and BA in Religious Studies, both Cum Laude.
Current Employer and Job Title: Managing Partner, WTM Advisors and Associate Faculty, Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham Health (Ariadne Labs)
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’m proud that I’ve been able to combine my interests in business and healthcare. I started my career on Wall Street prior to medical school. I then had the honor of working side-by-side with Professors Michael Porter and Robert Kaplan at Harvard Business School to transform health care by implementing Value Based Care: driving improved outcomes for patients and reducing costs through new strategies. I was also fortunate to learn Disruptive Innovation and Jobs To Be Theory from Clay Christensen. I’m likely the only doctor that I’m aware of to have learned from and worked with these legendary thinkers who are giants of modern-day business. I am truly grateful because advising companies around the world was a life changing experience.
Describe your biggest accomplishment as a graduate student: Speaking at Cornell’s Health Care Symposium on healthcare transformation. I love sharing how I view the future of healthcare, so this global forum enabled me to present those ideas to alumni, students, and the Cornell community. As a leader, it comes natural to lift others up first, so the Symposium served as a great medium to do just that.
What led you to pursue an EMBA at this point in your career? Today’s health care sector requires a multidisciplinary leader to create sustainable and meaningful change. As someone who loves business and markets, I saw Cornell’s EMBA to be a perfect complement to my MD and time on Wall Street at Citigroup.
What was the key factor that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Cornell’s reputation is world class, and so is its alumni. The dual-degree EMBA/MS offered over a two-year period appealed to me because it is a one-of-a-kind Ivy League program. The program is well suited to help hone my leadership development and sharpen my business acumen. It fulfilled my life’s mission to be a leader who makes a difference in the world.
What is the top item on your career bucket list? To lead a mission driven organization reimagining and redesigning healthcare as CEO.
How did your classmates enhance the value of your business school experience? I cannot say enough about my classmates; they are some of the most driven individuals I’ve ever met. They made the virtual classroom experience memorable and manageable over Zoom our first year by sharing their own professional insights and debating many business decisions discussed. I learn more from my classmates and hope they’ve learned just as much from me.
Who was your favorite faculty member and how did this person enrich your learning? It’s a tie between Dr. Michael Stewart, who teaches us Global Perspectives in Health Care and Professor Soumitra Dutta who teaches Managing Operations. Dr. Stewart features fantastic guest experts from around the world to share first-hand their respective country’s healthcare system. This makes for such a rich engaging dialogue, one which I actively participate in. Professor Dutta’s expertise as a world leader with his Global Innovation Index resonates with me because I think about healthcare globally, especially the impact innovation has and how to operationalize it.
What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s EMBA program? I advise potential applicants to showcase all their strengths, such as work experiences, their ‘why,’ and how they want to transform healthcare. It is an investment you make in yourself, but it is also an investment of time – the one resource you can’t get or buy back. So, if you take the plunge, you will not regret coming to Cornell. As a former Wall Street banker, I’m allowed to say this: It’s one of the best investments I have made in my career.
What was your best memory from your EMBA program? Easy: the week-long residential week at Cornell’s Ithaca campus. After one year of seeing each other as Zoom boxes chest up, I finally got to meet my classmates face-to-face. A few were taller than I imagined, some were funnier, but all were charming, driven, and motivated to become great leaders in and out of the board room. That week at Club Statler set the foundation for lifelong friendships and I cannot wait to engage with more Cornellians as Alumni.
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