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MBA story Alex Chaudhuri

Alex’s MBA story: the innovative doctor improving health services

UQ people
Published 9 Feb, 2024  ·  6-minute read

As an experienced clinician, Dr Alex Chaudhuri didn’t seem like the typical Master of Business Administration (MBA) candidate. But after reaching a certain level in his career, Alex was ready to broaden his perspective – and this quest brought him to UQ.

Working as the Director of Infectious Diseases at Prince Charles Hospital, Alex already had strong technical abilities. But he knew it would take a different set of skills to create change at an organisational level.

Alex pursued the UQ MBA to gain business leadership skills, which pushed him to think about healthcare from a new perspective. Along the way, he also experienced a transformation that reinforced his sense of purpose while developing diverse connections he’ll value throughout his career.

In 2021, Alex used what he'd learned to launch SureText, a secure messaging app designed to improve communication between health professionals.

How the MBA helps health practitioners

Coming from a health background, Alex was keen to gain a broader understanding of business fundamentals.

“My belief was and is that some of the answers to health systems issues will come from outside health,” he says.

“I wanted to broaden my perspective and opportunities, and I knew the MBA would do that.”

“That’s why the course content was so valuable to me. It improved my knowledge and made me more insightful, which was empowering.”

It’s somewhat rare for practising clinicians to complete an MBA, so Alex was glad to get support from his employer.

“Thankfully, he could see the benefit the organisation would get from me embarking on an MBA,” says Alex.

“That needed broad-mindedness about the relevance of the MBA. He also had to trust I wouldn't neglect my work and that I'd be available to discuss any issues that arose. I needed a boss who could see what I was seeing in my journey as well.”

Alex Chaudhuyri

I wanted to broaden my perspective and opportunities, and I knew the MBA would do that. It improved my knowledge and made me more insightful, which was empowering.

Dr Alex Chaudhuri
Master of Business Administration

While the connection between business insights and health care might not be obvious, Alex found he was able to apply everything he learned during the MBA to his work.

“I think an MBA applies to health care in many ways,” he says.

“For example, it’s all well and good to have an effective treatment, but the MBA taught me to think about the best way to deliver treatment to the patient.”

The MBA prompted Alex to consider critical questions like:

  • What’s the best way to deliver health care to patients?
  • What’s the operations design?
  • How do patients access health care?
  • Are we doing this in a cost-effective manner to justify the return on investment?
  • How do you get feedback from the patient and how do you learn from that feedback?

“I used the MBA learnings to design and implement a ‘hospital in the home’ model of care,” he says.

This model allows the patient to stay at home and receive care as though they were in the hospital. In Alex’s field, that care typically means intravenous antibiotics for a serious infection. But he says there are many other applications.

“Patients love it – the outcomes are as good as hospital care, and it’s more cost-effective,” says Alex.

“It’s a bit of a no-brainer in certain contexts, but moving to this model of care was never going to be easy, because it’s relatively new here in Australia.”

“Applying lessons from the MBA was an exercise in change management that helped me implement and improve that model of care.”

Dr Alex Chaudhuri, UQ MBA graduate

Transformational leadership and growth

Along with gaining business skills, Alex says the greatest growth opportunity he experienced came from learning about leadership. And there were plenty of chances to do that in the UQ MBA.

While there’s a strong focus on leadership and management development woven throughout all MBA courses, there’s also a dedicated Leading People and Teams course.

“The technical skills I already had were, if anything, enhanced by the soft skills I developed during the MBA,” says Alex.

“Learning about leadership was one of the most valuable things I got out of the MBA. I found it helpful to understand leadership frameworks and theory.

“We also had one-on-one executive coaching to help us understand our own leadership style. We received 360-degree feedback and had the opportunity to practise leadership throughout the program.”

“Being open to my own leadership style heightened my self-awareness. Fundamentally, I saw a change in myself.”

“The MBA made me realise leadership is the bedrock of business,” he says.

“That’s why the MBA is critically important to health care – it’s essentially a people business, in every way you look at it.

“I saw how the leadership frameworks and tools I studied helped me be more effective at work. I learned to be more compassionate, empathetic, and ultimately, more effective as a result, and that’s a very powerful thing.”

Experiential learning and connections

One of the strengths of the UQ MBA is the opportunity students have to connect with a diverse, experienced cohort. Coming from different industries and backgrounds, students find their learning enriched by the relationships they develop in the classroom.

“The cohort was very diverse in terms of industry and seniority levels,” Alex says.

“From that diversity, we got so many insightful perspectives.

“This intersection of domains and industries opens your mind and gives you a competitive edge. It opens you to solutions or ideas that you wouldn’t have had in your own little bubble.”

“Being able to reflect on my problems and listen to my peers reflect on theirs and their journeys was priceless,” he says.

“That’s why my MBA peer group is important to me.”

UQ MBA students also benefit from experiential learning opportunities with the chance to develop relationships with lecturers and industry professionals.

“You can’t put a price on having the opportunity to practise practical skills through industry engagements,” Alex says.

“I believe you go very far as a collective. The connections I made during the MBA will be my brain trust forever more.”

Watch UQ MBA: Dr Alex Chaudhuri on YouTube.

Putting communication at the heart of health care

Being passionate about health care and going through the MBA allowed Alex to identify opportunities to improve healthcare operations and delivery. A few years after he graduated, Alex had the idea for SureText, a secure messaging app for clinicians.

“The smartphone is supreme now in most communications, including professional,” he says.

However, generic messaging apps aren’t appropriate channels for clinicians to communicate with each other, as they don’t meet the requirements that apply to health records and can’t be audited.

“SureText began as an idea on the back of a proverbial envelope after observing this problem firsthand,” says Alex.

“It allows healthcare professionals to communicate a lot of information quickly and directly. It’s convenient, like generic messaging apps. But it’s also valid within a healthcare information framework because it provides security, privacy, and can be audited.”

“As someone without a business background, the MBA gave me the skills and confidence to pursue this idea as a startup.”

In a full-circle moment, Alex became a client of the UQ MBA Industry Engagement Capstone Course. This allowed him to tap into the diverse perspectives of the next MBA cohort, whose evidence-based advice informed the next steps in SureText’s product development and marketing.

While Alex primarily identifies as a clinician who practises bedside medicine, the MBA led Alex to clarify his purpose in health care. Ultimately, the MBA helped Alex realise his passion for helping clinicians and patients connect.

“I don’t think I’m overstating when I say that the MBA was profound for me,” he says.

“My marketing course taught me how to better engage with my patients. The leadership courses helped me better engage with my own team. While I thought the MBA would make me a better health systems manager, it also made me a better clinician.”

“While I continue to practise as a clinician, I’ll always be thinking about creating or nurturing a healthcare system that improves access and fosters connection amongst clinicians, and between clinicians and patients. Fundamentally, managing that change is going to be my journey.”

Learn more about the UQ MBA Read other MBA stories

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