From Warren Buffet to Chief Quality Officer: Meet Dr. Nasim Afsar ’17

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Get inspired and learn best practices from Dr. Nasim Afsar-manesh FEMBA ’17 in this Drive Time podcast interview. Nasim is the Chief Quality Officer for UCLA Health. As an MD and a hospital executive, she is accountable for over 100,000 patients who receive their primary medical care from UCLA. She literally uses her MBA every day to save lives.

Nasim shares lessons she learned from a 2-hour dinner with Warren Buffet back at Caltech in college, as well as productivity tips she uses every day today. Trust me: You want to learn from Nasim. Not only does her career touch over 100,000 patients, she has also balanced raising her two young daughters during her FEMBA experience.

Nasim is one of the great people in your UCLA Anderson network, and she graciously shares her success strategies with us in this Drive Time podcast.


Flex made an MBA possible for these MDs: Aviva Regev 16 and JC Jimenez 19

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Flex is FEMBA’s innovative hybrid delivery model that we pioneered in 2012. Flex allows incredible people to earn an MBA who would never be able to earn and MBA otherwise due to the big careers they have already built.

Today’s podcast introduces you to two of our FEMBA medical doctors for whom Flex allows for an MBA: Aviva Regev MD FEMBA 16 Clinical Instructor in the Department of Anesthesiology at UCLA Health, and Juan Carlos (JC) Jimenez MD FEMBA 19 Associate Clinical Professor of Vascular Surgery at UCLA Health.

There’s so much in this interview, so I’ll only give you a few of the highlights, but among other topics, you’ll learn:

  • How Aviva is now co-teaching “The Business of Healthcare” here at UCLA Anderson with her Department Chair, just nine months after graduation.
  • How during his first quarter at UCLA Anderson, J.C. published “Vascular Surgery: Principles and Practice, Fourth Edition.”
  • Meeting together in the Operating Room, as anesthesiologist and vascular surgeon. You’ll hear about these two preparing to conduct a heart transplant!
  • Juggling FEMBA and career and maximizing the MBA journey
  • A few of their professional productivity tips that they use to manage their very big careers.

Aviva and JC are incredible people; I felt like a “little crumb” in this interview. They are examples of the lifelong career connections that get made in the classrooms of UCLA Anderson.

Hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at the lives and careers of Aviva and JC.

Passion Leads the Way: Meet UCLA Finance Professor Bruce Carlin, Phd, MD

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In honor of the amazing entering Class of 2019 (which welcomes the most-ever doctoral-level FEMBAs: 8 MDs, 8 PhDs, 1 DDS, 1 EdD, and 1 DMA), this week’s Drive Time podcast features Associate Professor of Finance Bruce Carlin, PhD, MD, MBA.

Bruce generously shares his very unique life and career story, including:

  • Following his passion
    Stepping away from a very successful career as a surgeon / researcher / medical doctor / author to earn a PhD in Finance. (His family’s reaction; finding a mentor who believed in him; taking 10 advanced courses in a year to pre-qualify.)
  • Earning his MBA as a part-time student
    While still working as a medical doctor and professor. He knows what it is like to be a FEMBA!
  • Valuing risk in building a very rewarding life
  • Being a visiting professor at Chicago Booth last year
    (and seeing how Anderson students had a higher mean on the same exact exam!)
  • What he likes about teaching
    Making it practical; Cases; Gaining skills; Teaching to both “quants” and “poets” to that there is something for everyone
  • The unique optimism of UCLA and California
  • Watching his UCLA Anderson fellow faculty help companies survive the financial crisis.
  • Three very interesting hobbies: 
    Being a Master Swimmer and Water Polo player,
    Organizing Poker matches for finance academics at venues like the Aria poker room, and
    Collecting rare whiskies (Listen to his tale of searching the back country of Kentucky for rare issues of Pappy Van Winkle.)

Bruce will be teaching Finance in Spring Quarter to both Flex and one of the all-day Saturday sections.

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Group Podcast: Making the World a Better Place – Care | Mind

FEMBA PODCASTS - Dylan's Blog (1)

Making the World a Better Place: Care | Mind

This week’s Drive Time Podcast is the first of its kind, starring a trio of three alumni stories from Oscar Rodriguez (FEMBA ’14), Hanson Chang (FEMBA ’14) and Sarah McMains (Full Time MBA ’12). You will hear how Oscar and Hanson met in their first year of the FEMBA program and continued working together, along with Sarah, through the creation of their start-up healthcare business, “Care | Mind” (an iOS application). The group discusses several themes that have stuck with them throughout their time at UCLA Anderson and beyond, including:

  • Building a partnership through their time in the FEMBA program
  • Discovering opportunities, broadening their perspectives, and finding their higher purpose
  • Bringing medicine back in the hands of individuals and empowering people with information
  • Increasing the utilization of wearable technology with the senior population
  • Leveraging the UCLA Anderson Alumni Network to find a perfect match for their marketing needs
  • Practical tips for getting the most out of the UCLA Anderson experience

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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.


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.


You can learn more about their product at, 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

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/ 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!

Chad Sparks ’14, MD, new alum, new job, new future

20140613 Chad Sparks MD 14

Chad Sparks ’14, MD, Navy veteran, new alum and a new Medical Director at United Healthcare

I want to capture some FEMBA success stories this summer from our new 2014 graduates. I reached out to Chad Sparks ’14, MD, and new Medical Director at United Healthcare, and here is what Chad shared with me.

Hi Dylan,

Thanks for everything over the years.  And most of all thanks for calling me 3 years ago.  I still remember it vividly!  I was pacing in my home in North Carolina while we talked about the FEMBA program and all it had to offer.  I originally wanted to do the full-time program, but switched when I realized the GI Bill worked for FEMBA as well.  It was a great decision!  With all that’s happened over the past three years, it was really tough deciding what to write about for you.  In any case, here is my story.  Hopefully, it’s what you were looking for.  

Take care,

Chad’s story, in his words:
It was a question from childhood: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The question seemed so innocuous at a young age. My answer used to be Superman, but that hasn’t worked out as well as I’d hoped. In any case, the question seemed to crop up at every important point in life. It was very relevant in high school and college, but persisted long after that.

As I’m sure was the case at every medical school, everyone at the University of Hawaii wanted to know what I was going to be when we grew up. That is to say that they wanted to know what residency program I wanted to apply for. My answer was Internal Medicine. I completed my Internal Medicine Residency in 2007 and subsequently served my country in the US Navy for four years. However, after my time in the Navy the question was still relevant for me.

In 2011, I was at a transition point in my life. I would be moving to a new city, starting a new practice, and building a new life. I had three basic options: continue practicing Internal Medicine, pursue fellowship training, or go to business school. With regards to my thought process, I couldn’t tell you whether it was my memories of the consummate capitalist Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties, the passing of the oh-so-complex Affordable Care Act, or my lively conversation with Dylan Stafford about the FEMBA program that convinced me, but the decision was easy. Obviously, I chose the Anderson School of Management.

Business school has been a period of exponential growth for me. In addition to building on my hospital administration experience, the core skills of running a business and being a leader have compounded each year. So after practicing at the VA near UCLA for several years, the questions again loomed large. “What was I going to do when I grew up?” The possibilities seemed endless, but I found the answer in the top 20 of the Fortune 500. I am now a Medical Director at United Healthcare.

I started business school believing I was building skills that would be useful later in my career. I was wrong. I’m using these skills today and applying them in real-time to the ever-changing world of health care. In my new position, I am not only using many of the concepts that I learned at UCLA, but also planning for the next big question in my career.

Thanks Chad! Congratulations and thanks for making FEMBA really “sing” for your career.