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.
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!