The Man, The Myth, The Legend: celebrating Michael Heafey’s years at UCLA Anderson

How do you say goodbye to a legend? Michael Heafey is retiring from UCLA Anderson  after all these many years of service. Enjoy this tribute to the man, the myth, the legend!

Michael has been in charge of the physical Anderson buildings for a lot of years now. All of us who know him, love him.  Send him a note michael.heafey@anderson.ucla.edu

Classmates to Co-Founders: transforming Elder Care

From classmates to co-founder/entrepreneurs, dedicated to transforming elder-care!

Hanson and Oscar met at UCLA Anderson, in FEMBA, and now they are co-founders of Reassure Analytics. We wrote the individual stories of Hanson Chang (FEMBA 2014) and Oscar Rodriguez, MD (FEMBA 2014), but now let’s hear what they are building together, their company Reassure Analytics, and Care|Mind, a breakthrough in elder care.

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Dylan: So guys the enthusiasm you have to make a difference, to positively impact the quality of life of our elders, is inspiring. Tell our readers about this company and product you’re building.

Hanson: It was an idea conceived around the fact that technology solutions for elderly care have really been limited, and we wanted to do something for this population. I had been looking at this demographic and some product offerings available to them, and when I saw the archaic “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” emergency alert devices still in common use, I just thought there are really some advances in technology that can be offered here.

We’ve gone through a lot of pivots since the initial concept of the product, but we’ve landed on what the product is going to be now and are pretty close to getting a beta version out. It’s an app called Care|Mind, which leverages smartphone and wearable technology to allow users to monitor geolocation, heart rate, sleep, activity, and medications of their elderly loved ones and alert them if there are certain issues.

Users will not only be able to get this information in real-time through a dashboard, but the app will also provide trends and alerts for anything outside the norm. By bringing together real-time data with evidence from published clinical literature, we’ll be able to provide users valuable information to better take care of their loved ones, and allow users to be attentive to them whenever they need it most.

Oscar: Our elderly population is a forgotten group in healthcare. Many of the ailments they suffer are dismissed as just being part and parcel with “getting old”, even by trained clinicians. As such, our elderly get little attention, follow-up or therapy for many of their “minor” medical conditions. This not only reduces their quality of life as these conditions worsen but more importantly puts them at risk for more serious issues such as life-threatening fractures secondary to falls.

We hope to change this by providing users with insight into important aspects of their elderly loved one’s life. For example studies have shown that reduced total sleep is highly correlated with depression in the elderly. More importantly, it has been shown that when an elderly man gets less than 5 hours of undisturbed total sleep at night, he is at twice the risk of suffering a fall during the day. By alerting users that their elderly loved one is not getting enough sleep we enable them to seek out the right kind of help and hopefully prevent their loved one from having a serious fall.

20150604 Hanson Chang 14 Gap Team and Oscar Rodriquez 14 MD

Our GAP team, back in FEMBA, when it all began. Hanson in middle and Oscar far right.

Dylan: Wow, that’s great. How exactly does it work?

Hanson: By having their loved one wear a Fitbit and using the Care|Mind companion app on their loved one’s phone, data will be sent to the cloud where we’ll crunch the data to meaningful information and alerts that will be sent to users through the Care|Mind app.

From there, users would be able to do all those things I mentioned. We’re really excited about the amount of alerts that will be available, and outside of providing peace of mind for people about their loved ones, we really think this will help their loved ones lead healthier and happier lives.

Oscar: Hanson is touching on an important piece behind the spirit of our project. Nearly 90% of our senior citizens want to live in their own homes – not in a senior living community. However, as our elderly age they become more and more socially isolated due to death of a spouse, the passing away of friends and colleagues and/or the moving away of their grown children.

Studies have shown that this reduction in the size of their social network and diminished social contact puts them at increased risk for numerous serious conditions including cardiovascular disease, infectious illness, cognitive deterioration and even death. Early on in our project, a colleague of mine at work recounted the recent loss of his elderly father that really put this product in perspective for me. My colleague’s father insisted on staying in his home even after the loss of his wife, so my colleague and his siblings took turns checking in on their father regularly throughout the week.

Only one of the brothers, however, lived in the same city as their father so he made it a point to visit with his dad every other day. One day, the siblings began frantically calling and texting each other asking “have you talked to dad today?” because none of the siblings who lived out of state had been able to get a hold of him on the phone.

By the time the brother who lived locally was able to get to their father’s home it was too late. Their father had actually passed shortly after the brother had visited him two days prior. In this day and age, with the technology we have at our disposal, this should never happen to a family. Through Care|Mind we hope to keep people as connected as they can be while still respecting the independence of their loved ones.

Dylan: How soon is this going to be available, and how much will it cost?

Hanson: We’re anticipating we can launch the product by Fall of this year. We have quite a few plans to make the product even better after that, but right now we just want to see if people will like it. On the cost side, Oscar and I talked quite a bit about it, and ultimately we decided that we’re going to give it away for free. We truly believe this is going to be something that can help caregivers around the world, and it’s more important to us that we see this utilized and benefit as many people as possible, as opposed to charging a fee for downloading the app, or charging some service fee.

END INTERVIEW

You can learn more about their product at www.reassureanalytics.com, and to subscribe to find out exactly when their product launches. If you’re interested in making a difference in our elderly population by helping with their product or want to be one of the first to test it out, send an email to them at contact@reassureanalytics.com.

Classmates-to-Co-Founders: Meet Hanson Chang ’14

Dylan: Great connecting again Hanson. Last week, I profiled your former classmate and current and business partner Oscar Rodriguez ’14, MD. This week, I want to profile you, to show people how your FEMBA experience lead you two to co-founding your company.

Tell our readers about you.

Hanson: So my background is in mechanical engineering, and I also have a master’s degree in Medical Device and Diagnostic Engineering from USC (yea I know…). I did my undergrad at UC Irvine, and after finishing I joined St. Jude Medical. I know you’re probably thinking St. Jude Children’s Hospital, since they do a lot of fundraising in the public domain and we share the same “St. Jude” name, but St. Jude Medical is actually unaffiliated with the children’s hospital. We make medical device; pretty big company, about $5.5 billion in revenue and a Fortune 500 company.

In any case, I joined St. Jude Medical after finishing my mechanical engineering degree because I knew I wanted to be in the healthcare space. When I was 6 months away from graduating, I thought about pursuing med school but it was a pretty spontaneous thought since I hadn’t taken any pre-reqs for it. By then I had also done a few internships in a mechanical engineering role, so was really going down an engineering path.

I ended up taking the MCATs anyways just to see how I would do, but ultimately decide that developing healthcare products was the perfect intersection between engineering (which I loved) and medicine (at the time a new-found love). Great thing was that my MCAT didn’t go to waste since I used that to get into USC for my engineering masters in lieu of taking the GRE.

I’ve been at St. Jude Medical since, and currently am an R&D director there. St. Jude Medical is a great place, they’ve afforded me the opportunity to constantly grow and put into practice many of the skills I’ve picked up at Anderson over the last 8 years.

I started out in operations managing a group of folks on the manufacturing floor, and since then had stints as a quality engineer, development engineer, program manager, development and operations manager, and as I mentioned my most recent role as an R&D director. When I had started at Anderson, I was a development engineer, and since then have really grown professionally.

Dylan: What made you join Anderson and how do you think it’s helped you?

Hanson: When I first decided to apply, I figured that getting an MBA couldn’t hurt, and what was I going to do with my free time anyways? I hate to say it, but I came in with the perspective that I could probably learn a thing or two, and having the Anderson name would be a nice resume booster.

I’m happy to say though, that my perspective completely changed the first week in Leadership Foundations. After that week, I knew the experience that I’d be getting at Anderson would be invaluable, and I have to say I got so much more out of the program than I ever thought.

Today I tell all my friends and anyone getting career advice from me, that if they have any interest in business, they should get an MBA. It’s experience and learning that you’ll use the next 40 years of your life, and what’s the overhead to know if it’s really for you? Study for the GMAT and put together an application form. If you really don’t think it’s for you, drop out after leadership foundations. But I guarantee them they won’t after the week-long experience.

Dylan: And we now know you were working on a digital health product with another FEMBA grad? Talk about that, please

Hanson: Yea, would love to. I’m working on it with Oscar Rodriguez ’14, MD who I met shortly after we both got accepted to Anderson at a networking event before classes even started. As luck would have it, we ended up in the same section as well. We’re both extremely passionate about the healthcare space, and after working together in a number of occasions, most notably on our GAP project, we decided to work on this product together.

20150604 Hanson Chang 14 Gap Team and Oscar Rodriquez 14 MD

Above, l-r, Our GAP Team – Rachel (Alevy) Ferkel, Jim Best, Hanson Chang (middle), Nelima Das-Clark and Oscar Rodriguez, MD.

We started working on it shortly after graduating from the FEMBA program. It was something like 3 – 4 weeks after commencement that I found myself over at Oscar’s place, and I was telling him about an idea for a consumer product that could help monitor their loved ones. I remember Oscar’s wife walking by and saying that I really had too much free time now that we finished the FEMBA program, which I can’t say is too far from the truth.

I always want to do something productive with my free time, and after learning about the digital health space, I felt there was a huge void when it came to technology solutions for elderly care. So I wanted to do something for this space. Initially we kicked things around a bit and pivoted quite a bit since the initial conception of the product, but we’ve really settle on what it’s going to be and things have picked up quite a bit these last few months.

Dylan: Sounds like an interesting story that we’ll have to cover!

Hanson: Absolutely. We see this product really benefiting people out there, so frankly anything we can do to get the word out will be great!

Top 5 FEMBA Memories, Adam Schleyhahn ’15

Hi Dylan –

FEMBA has flown by. Here are my five top memories from FEMBA.

1) I learned to drive a stick shift for the first time – in Finland. Robert Schneider, James Biskey and I were all visiting our GAP company, Primoceler, when I told them I’d never driven a stick shift. They immediately pulled over, handed me the keys and made me learn the hard way. They had a natural Good Cop/Bad Cop approach – Robert expressing his fatherly disappointment at all the gear grinding and James with his usual enthusiastic encouragement. I now know how to drive a stick – and with confidence!

2) Santiago Chile – after a long restless week of meeting with copper executives, the sharpest financiers in Latin America, Government Economic Officials, Artists, and many other friends of Professor Sebastian Edwards we took a trip to the Chilean Andes for some horseback riding. Not only was this a breath-taking once in a lifetime experience, but it was a great opportunity to relax, drink wine, and really open up and get to know both FEMBA and Full Time Classmates. It was on this trip that I met Neil Mahoney and Robert Schneider for the first time. 6 Months later when we were forming GAP teams, the initial “Dream Team” I attempted to form fell apart and I became a GAP orphan looking for a team – it was Robert and Neil that took me in.

Here we are, L-R, Neil Mahoney, Robert Schneider and me.

20150608 Neil Mahoney Robert Schneider and Adam Schleyhahn 15-1

Robert Schneider and me.

20150608 Adam Schleyhahn and Robert Schneider 15-2

The local scenery.

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When in Chile, eat like the locals.

20150608 Adam Schleyhahn 15-4 3) Giving a proper Power Point Presentation – not only was McCann and Dylan’s class fun and entertaining – the content was both extremely useful and immediately applicable. I had the opportunity to give a presentation at my company’s corporate office several weeks after the course finished and went all out with relating to the audience, hooking them into my presentation and using good, convincing power point slides to make my case. I told Dylan that I felt like I was somehow cheating because this course gave such an advantage.

4) Self Validation – my undergraduate academic experience was somewhat of a rocky one. I definitely took full advantage of the “optional essay” to explain what a changed man I was and how hard I’d work if given the chance to come to Anderson. I was just as surprised as I was overjoyed when I got the phone call telling me I was accepted and have viewed the opportunity to come here as an academic re-birth. 3 years later I’m graduating top 15%  Anderson Honor Society and GAP Fellow. I can honestly say I went all out and definitely left it all on the field! The work ethic, confidence, organization and “make each day your masterpiece” mentality will definitely stay with me as I approach the next phase of my life and career.

5) Just because life gets busy does not mean that the most important things in life come to a halt. While the days of coming home from work, cracking open an ice cold beer and plopping down on the couch to watch the Padre game without a care in the world are long long long gone, my wife Rose and I have made many new friends both in and out of the FEMBA Program and reached many life milestones – most important of which was when we welcomed our daughter Clara into this world last year. Things definitely became very stressful, but the funny thing was that many of my classmates were hitting the same life milestones, and dealing with the same stress – there was always somebody else to talk to that knew exactly what it felt like to juggle parenthood, work and school. It was a tough, rigorous and exhausting experience and we are all stronger because of it!

20150611 Adam Schleyhahn 15 and family

Graduating is bittersweet! Thank you for being part of such a wonderful program and life experience.

Adam Schleyhahn

[Dylan: Thanks Adam. Sorry it took me all week to post this. We released admission decisions today. And, it was worth it to wait for the family photo. Save the best for last! Congratulations and enjoy Commencement tomorrow!]

Top 11 Things I’ve Done While at UCLA Anderson

Mircea Vlaicu ’15, Content Strategist, Intuit, reflects on his FEMBA experience. In his own words:

20150604 Mircea Vlaicu 15 linkedinAfter 3 years of personal and professional growth, graduation for me personally is a bittersweet moment. What I will miss most is the collaborative energy, where your friends congratulate you for quitting your job and are always willing to help. And while I’m sure not everyone has had the same experience as me or comes away with the same feelings, it’s a place I will dearly miss.

For the last few weeks while walking to class I’ve found myself looking up at the angled Anderson buildings, red brick set against a late afternoon blue sky, trying to etch the feeling of walking to class in my memory. As I look up I remember coming into the program with one goal: to take advantage of as many opportunities at Anderson as I possibly could. And I’ve squeezed a lot out of the last 3 three years.

Here are 11 of the best things I’ve done:

  1. Vistage (next year known by another name): I’ve tried to evangelize this program as much as possible to anyone who would listen. It’s you and 14 other students, both Full-timers and FEMBAs, with a group mentor. Once a month on a Friday you meet at a company and sit down with a founder or CEO to talk about their company and career. Our group went to many companies, including Stone Brewery in San Diego.

But wait… it’s wayyy more than that. As a small group you get to bond with these amazing 15 other people on a level you will never be able to in class. You’re not there for a grade, you’re there because you interviewed and your mentor has decided that you are interesting enough to add value to the group. For those staying on at Anderson, join the EA and look out for the email in the fall (it’s easy to miss).

  1. GAP: Do you know what happens when you’re stuck with four other people for six months working on something really intense? Personal growth. On top of that, as long as you’re not the a#$hole who doesn’t do any work, you make some very close friends. Word of advice: You will eventually get mad at someone in your group, but remember that you have no idea what they’re dealing with outside of GAP. Communicate and be understanding.
  1. What Happens Outside of Class: For me, the value of Anderson was everything that went on outside of the classroom, whether it was a speaker event, the Knapp competition, or just walking down the hall and stopping to ask someone what’s new. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot in class, but my experience was shaped by all the opportunities that Anderson provides.
  1. The Friendships: It’s easy to leave Anderson with a lot of acquaintances. Try to leave with at least a couple of truly close friends. Vistage and GAP help.
  1. Learned How to Ask Questions: My wife said I’ve gotten a lot better at this. She wouldn’t lie. But in all seriousness, I noticed quickly that the students who knew how to ask good questions formed strong relationships quickly. It’s also called active listening.

Best classes I’ve taken:

  1. Strategy with Ian Larkin: Get to know this man and sit in on one of his classes… He…makes you play chess instead of checkers.
  1. McCann’s Business Presenting: I took it during summer and learned a ton, plus bonded with my fellow classmates because of the small group size.
  1. Ullmen’s Managerial Interpersonal Communication: Don’t let the name dissuade you. Ullmen is a master at creating intimate personal relationships within the span of a conversation. A skill that will pay dividends for the rest of your career.
  1. Business Plan Development with Nathanson: I just like his style. If you are interested in entrepreneurship go and meet this guy.
  1. Tang’s Global Supply Chain: A great teacher who will definitely not waste time being politically correct. You’ll laugh a lot and learn a lot more. He should be back next year after being gone for a year.
  1. Culbert’s Class: He teaches a couple of classes. I took Motivation, Leadership and Power (or something like that). Not all students will enjoy his style, I still don’t know if I did. But it was the right class at the right time. I was struggling with personal issues at the time and this class helped me challenge my thinking and how I approach my relationships with others.

BONUS: On a personal level, having my son was the best thing I’ve done while at Anderson, although if you can wait I would advise you to do so. While my wife and I didn’t have the luxury of waiting (for personal reasons), and although life certainly did not get any easier after he was born, there is nothing that motivates me more every single day.

To conclude, I want to remind everyone of two things. First, remember that there probably isn’t a door in Los Angeles, California, and maybe the US that Anderson cannot open for you. Second, something Dylan told us during our first day of Welcome Week. “This is your chance to make mistakes. This is your chance in a safe environment, and without any consequences, to do what you want to do, step out of your comfort zone, and grow.”

Dylan’s Note: The above are Mircea’s own words and I appreciate him taking the time to pen them.  To clarify Mircea’s memory of my Welcome Week remarks. School IS a safe place to make mistakes, where students explore new career pathways and can experiment with new directions. The consequences at school are MORE forgiving than in a paid job situation; there are always consequences to be responsible for, of course.

Jordan Sugar ’17 welcomes his daughter Ellie

Congratulations to Jordan Sugar ’17, Project Manager at Southern California Edison, and his wife on the arrival of their beautiful baby girl! In Jordan’s own words:

20150605 Jordan Sugar 17-1 with and daughter Ellie

Hi Dylan,

My apologies for the delay in getting back to you! These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of joy, classes, and group projects and I’m afraid I fell quite behind on emails. I’m not sure if this is too late to share but as a proud dad and delighted husband I am happy to send it your way!

Mrs. Jordan and I are thrilled to welcome our daughter, Elliana “Ellie” Grace Sugar to the world! She was born at UCLA Ronald Reagan on 5/7 at 1 pm, weighing 7 lbs 15 ounces and a lovely 20 3/4 inches.

20150605 Jordan Sugar 17-3 daughter Ellie

We actually had quite a fun UCLA filled experience bringing her here. My wife works at Ronald Reagan as an oncology nurse on the 6th floor, and we delivered with the midwives (AMAZING experience) on the 5th floor. Contractions began on Tuesday morning at 1 am and lasted for over two days. In between I had a take home midterm for finance to do before 9 am on Wednesday, so on Wednesday morning at 2 am I took turns helping my wife through contractions and then answering midterm questions :)

A little after midnight on Thursday we left our UCLA apartment in University Village and drove to the hospital. After laboring at home for all those hours my wife was 7 centimeters and we were admitted right away! The experience with the midwives and the rest of the hospital staff was incredible and about 12 hours later our baby was born. Mrs Jordan was able to deliver naturally without an epidural and she did beautifully!

We stayed in the hospital for a few nights and then took Ellie home. In the following days we took her everywhere: costco, the beach, the library, and even my marketing class at Anderson, where I got to present her to my class before giving her to my wife to take home.

20150605 Jordan Sugar 17-2 daughter Ellie

Everyone is doing great and we are just feeling incredibly blessed. I am so grateful for all the support and encouragement I’ve received from my professors and classmates. We truly feel like part of the UCLA family.

Best,

Jordan

MD + FEMBA = Company Founder: Paging Dr. Oscar Rodriguez, MD, FEMBA ’14

This is installment one of a three-part story of two FEMBA classmates, their journey through FEMBA, and their path to forming their own company. This first installment features Oscar Rodriguez MD, FEMBA 2014. Installment two will profile Hanson Chang, also 2014, and the final installment reveals their newly founded company, Care|Mind, by Reassure Analytics.

20150604 Oscar Rodriquez 14 MD IMG_2648edit

Dylan: Let’s start with the back-story. Oscar, tell us where you were before Anderson.

Oscar:  Ah, the tumultuous road before Anderson…I found myself at DaVita Inc. in 2008 after making a major decision in my life to step away from my general surgery training and pursue a career in medical informatics. With a background in biomedical research and a love of technology, data and taking care of patients, I believed that predictive analytics would be the place I could make the biggest impact in the healthcare. DaVita was just going to be a temporary stop on my way to Stanford’s Medical Informatics program.

My station as a “Process Engineer” – a somewhat foretelling title – was a six month appointment to get some insight into and experience with working with large sets of patient population data before continuing on to my path towards medical informatics. However, I was so awed by the DaVita culture and the pervasive enthusiasm to truly make a difference in the quality of life of its dialysis patients that I applied for a more permanent position and became the Clinical IT Liaison for the Office of the Chief Medical Officer (OCMO).

In that role at DaVita, I got the opportunity to really impact the lives of both our patients and our Medical Directors. In my first year at DaVita, I helped devise and roll out a tool to help coordinate our clinical teammates and non-DaVita vascular surgeons to track, educate and encourage our patients to give up their catheters – an important nidus of infection and cause of morbidity and mortality – for a permanent access.

20150604 Oscar Rodriquez 14 MD with DaVita CMO Dr Allen Nissenson left and Dr David Van Wyck right VP Clinical Support Services

DaVita’s 2009 Continuous Improvement Award presented to me by DaVita’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Nissenson (left) and Dr. David Van Wyck (right), Vice President, Clinical Support Services.

When we started, over 24% of our patients were using catheters to dialyze; today we boast the lowest catheter rate in the industry at 13%. I also began tackling the challenge of educating our 1600+ medical directors who are contracted to provide clinical oversight of our facilities. In just over 3 years we created three online courses and a highly sought out day-long live training to better prepare our medical directors to tackle challenges of being the clinical leaders of our facilities.

Dylan: Ok.  I remember why your FEMBA application was so strong!  But what happened to have you decide to go to business school?

Oscar: I considered going to business school because I wanted to contribute more, both strategically and operationally, and become a leader at DaVita. Looking at the leadership construct of DaVita, it became apparent that an MBA education was an important element in the profile of the most successful leaders at DaVita. I wanted the benefit of a formalized education in business to supplement my medical background and bring a new level and valuable skill set to my work at DaVita.

Dylan: And specifically, why did you choose FEMBA?

Oscar: As I weighed the pros and cons of going back to school for an MBA I knew a few things to be true. First, I wanted a program that allowed me to continue thriving in my position at DaVita. Second, I wanted a part-time program that granted me an MBA with the same distinction and respect as that of a full-time MBA. To me that meant access and exposure to the same faculty, curriculum, rigors and resources of a respected full-time MBA program. Third, I wanted a truly functional educational experience. I didn’t want to graduate from a program with just a degree in business, but rather a new found confidence and skill set as a businessman and leader.

I reached out to my colleagues at DaVita for guidance and narrowed my choices down to Wharton’s Executive MBA program in San Francisco and Anderson’s Fully Employed program. Both were very distinguished and respected programs that allowed me to continue working at DaVita, in El Segundo, California, and complete my MBA education. However, the faculty in the Executive MBA Wharton program consisted of mostly part-time or guest faculty with the occasional full-time program faculty member that would make the flight out to San Francisco from Philadelphia. Moreover, the resources available at Wharton’s San Francisco program were limited due to its sheer distance from the University of Pennsylvania.

The tipping point for me was when I reached out to one of my fellow DaVita teammates and good friends, Sajid Sindha, FEMBA graduating class of 2007. We started at DaVita around the same time and first met during DaVita’s Academy for new teammates – a 3 day-long immersion into all that is DaVita. Working from the same office in El Segundo, we quickly became friends and I got the opportunity to see how easily Sajid created functional teams and seamlessly led strategic projects at DaVita. Sajid shared with me his inspiring experiences at Anderson, from Leadership Foundation to GAP, and I was sold. Sajid connected me with you (Dylan) after which I proceeded to do everything I could to get into Anderson, including taking the GMAT twice!

Dylan: Thanks for the plug for re-taking the GMAT…And did your experience at Anderson live up to your expectations?

Oscar: The Anderson FEMBA program didn’t just live up to my expectations it expanded my horizons beyond anything I had previously imagined.

In my first week at Anderson, I found myself taking both a metaphorical and actual leap of faith as I jumped off a 30-foot pole to a swinging trapeze as part of my Leadership Foundation ropes course. The camaraderie started then as my fellow classmates, whom I had just met, encouraged me past my slight fear of heights to make that leap. That Anderson fellowship and support grew throughout my three years at Anderson and continues to this day.

20150604 Oscar Rodriquez 14 MD Leadership Foundations in 2011

My three year career as a student at Anderson was a whirlwind of eye-opening experiences. It was non-stop learning from the get-go. I found myself, almost weekly, taking what I learned in class and using it in my work at DaVita.

I entered Anderson thinking I would concentrate on healthcare, given my medical training and interests at DaVita. I join the Anderson Healthcare Business Association and participated in the UCLA Business of Science Center’s (BSC) weekly meetings where clinicians, engineers, science and business students gathered to discuss topics that intersected business, science and innovation. Through the BSC, I got the opportunity to work with a fellow full-time MBA student, and two PhD students from the UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry department on the business plan for a research project being conducted by UCLA’s Neurosurgery Neural Systems & Dynamics Lab (NSDL).

We met regularly with the co-principal investigators, Dr. Xiao Hu and Dr. Neil Martin, Chair of Neurosurgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and devised a business plan for their SuperAlarm system to predict heart attacks in the hospital setting and ended up semi-finalists in UCLA’s 3rd Annual BSC Venture Competition. I got to take a class co-taught by Dr. David Feinberg, then president and CEO of UCLA Health, called Global Healthcare where one of the guest lecturers, Shannon O’Kelley, Chief Operating Officer at UCLA Health Systems, gave me the opportunity to shadow him and his team for a day at the UCLA Medical Center’s Santa Monica location. I attended a lecture given by Dr. Molly Coye, Chief Innovations Officer at UCLA Health, who introduced me to the burgeoning role innovation is playing in healthcare.

Despite my focus on healthcare, Anderson opened my eyes to so many other fascinating opportunities in business management and helped me discover and develop skills I scarcely knew I had. I took two classes in business law, taught by full-time professors at the UCLA School of Law. I delved into real-estate taking classes taught by faculty from the UCLA Ziman Center for Real Estate. I even participated in the High Tech Business Association/Amazon.com Inc. Case Competition where my team ended up as semi-finalists. But the ultimate experience was the Global Access Program (GAP).

Dylan: You jumped in the deep end! I’ll give you that Oscar.  And what was it about GAP that made your experience at Anderson so special?

Oscar: GAP was one of my most remarkable learning experiences, period.

Four classmates and I worked as a consulting group for a Finnish company interested in bringing one of their products into the US. Over a six month period we researched the market, interviewed 135 industry experts and stakeholders, and traveled to Europe and Canada to determine the financial viability of bringing the product into the US, devise a market entry strategy, and provide the Finnish company with a comprehensive business plan.

20150604 Oscar Rodriquez 14 MD GAP Team

Defending our Global Access Program (GAP) business plan to three industry-expert judges. Oscar, Nelima Das-Clark, Rachel (Alevy) Ferkel and Jim Best.

GAP made us put all that theory we had learned in the classroom into real-world practice and ultimately defend our business plan in front of three industry-expert judges. The Finnish company was so impressed by our work that they not only decided to enter the US with their product but the CEO invited us to visit Finland on their dime! I have since kept in touch with the Finnish company and have been doing further consulting work for them as they put their new entry plan in place.

Dylan: Looking back now, a year after graduation, what was the most challenging for you during your three years at Anderson?

Oscar: The time commitment. I made a promise to myself that if I was going to take on the burden of yet another student loan to get my MBA, I was going to make the most of it. As such, that meant sacrificing time with my wife and family. In fact, during my second year, I found myself in a hotel room in Cartagena, Colombia, missing most of the reception of my cousin’s wedding because I had assignments to turn in.

Fortunately, before committing to Anderson I not only garnered the full support of DaVita and my boss, but more importantly I sat down with my wife and family to have a frank discussion about what I was getting into and what I would need from them to make this work.

Dylan: Tell our readers what has happened since graduating.

20150604 Oscar Rodriquez 14 MD CommencementOscar: I was one of 16 students awarded the Global Access Program Fellowship at graduation. As a GAP Fellow I came back the year after graduating to mentor 3 teams of 5 students through their 6 months GAP experience.

As a GAP student I had been frustrated by lack of a system to track and report our primary research interviews. As a GAP Fellow I decided to build a tool for the following year’s students to facilitate the process for them so they could spend less time on the logistics of tracking and reporting their interviews and more time interviewing and analyzing the information.

The process I created was coined–by Professor Bob Foster, Director of the GAP Program–“The Oscar System”. Although it was optional for the students to use, 63 out of 65 teams used it the first year and it ranked highest among all the resources provided to the GAP students. When the full-time program got wind of the tool they wanted one for their students so I helped create a similar tool for them.

This year, I am the Co-Chairman of the GAP Fellows Alumni Board and will be working with a student from last year to improve upon the tool I devised, which will now be mandatory for the GAP students to use.

I have also partnered with one of my GAP teammates, Hanson Chang, to build a product for elderly care. It’s focused on addressing the growing population of seniors and the shrinking resources available to care for our elderly loved ones. It’s been exciting!

Dylan: Thanks Oscar. We’ll profile Hanson next, part-two of the story, before we complete with the profile of your new company. Thanks for making UCLA proud!