Need career advice

Greetings, I am an MD about to sign a job contract. This will be my first ‘real’ job out of residency, and I will be working in my medical field of choice. However, in the long term I see myself doing bigger things than that. Medicine is great and rewarding, but I am more interested in strategic planning, management, and research. Ten-fifteen years from now I want to be responsible for a healthcare division in a hedge fund, or run my own (goal# 1). Alternatively, I want to make high-impact executive decisions in managed care organizations (goal# 2). Tell me about ways to get to both #1 and #2. Here is my background: bachelor of arts in lower-tier Ivy, MD in US medical school, residency in a prestigious hospital, then very competitive fellowship in low profile place. The job I will start in a few months pays 400K with productivity potential up to 500K. I have two good friends working at WallStreet; one of them recently started HF. At the moment my plan is to work, save money, pay off loans and gradually work on the transition. I realize that at some point of the transition I will probably have to take a paycut and that’s fine.

With your background, I would recommend a highly ranked MBA. You’ll go a lot further (and quicker) with an MBA than with your CFA. An MD with CFA will take you places, but MD with MBA will go a lot further. Plus, MBA is kind of “guaranteed” and CFA is very open ended. Meaning - you could easily fail one of the exams and all of a sudden you’re spending 5+ years in CFA program vs. spending 2-3 years on an MBA. If you get into a Top 10 MBA program, you are money. Seriously. Just my 2cents. I do meet a lot of people with varied backgrounds that end up in finance - and while I am sitting for CFA (and can’t speak too highly of it) I just see top 10 MBA as a very fast track to the top.

Note: I am am not a health care expert by any stretch. A lot of this depends on what your specialty is. I would also say that it could be good to narrow your focus a little bit. While strategic planning and research certainly can go hand in hand (I know researchers who are now in senior management positions or health care M&A) and an MD who understands the risks (perceived or real) about new treatments and how those risks are interpreted by the insurance industry can often move to an investment role, I am a believer that it is a good idea to have a plan as to what direction you would like to go specifically. If you think, ten to fifteen years from now, that you have a decent strategy or your skills fit with the strategy of a large hedge fund you go that route. If you prefer the pure management aspect and believe you are a better strategic business decision maker, you go that route. I think it may be too early to set it out, now that I’ve said you should have a plan. So, contradictory advice, but sometimes things change a lot over a decade. Congrats on starting the professional career officially. Also, let me ask you: do you think the chief scientists themselves in biotech or pharma companies have any better idea what is going to work, both effect and FDA approval, than an analyst covering the stock?

sounds like Big Red to me…Cayuga Waiter?

Thanks for your responses. CPierce: There was a guy who finished my residency a few years before me, and I have heard that he did part-time MBA. A top-tier program, but I don’t know exactly which one. It was a 4 year long program. Apparently he was working and completing MBA at the same time. Do you guys think that part-time MBA is worth it? My impression is that MBA is about making contacts and facetime more than anything else, and a part-time arrangement may be suboptimal in this setting. eureka: Any concrete ideas how to go to research (goal#1) and the management (goal# 2) route? I’m happy to hear that they are not mutually exclusive. To answer your question: it depends. A GOOD chief scientist is good because he can look at an idea and say: ‘this doesn’t make sense’. However, here I am talking about ideas on early approaches to drug design; for instance, many many venture capitalists tried to make drugs out of small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), and so far they have failed miserably. And I bet they will keep failing, because they are not using good science. A good scientist in charge would be able to predict that and steer research on a completely different path. However, there is no way a chief investigator can predict an adverse drug reaction of a new medications. Likewise, there is no way to predict how many months of life a new chemotherapy agent will give to a terminally sick patient. Drug reactions are mostly idiosyncratic. Survival depends on way too many variables, and, honestly speaking, it is very easy to manipulate data and statistics to come up with favorable survival data. For instance, just yesterday they announced that a new antibody-based drug ipilimumab prolongs survival of terminally-ill melanoma patients by 4 months… come on now… 4 months is hardly a proof that the stuff truly works. I can’t prove that it is happening, but I suspect that when big money is involved, there are always ways to influence outcomes of these studies… But hey, it will probably get you through FDA. SKIP99E: I neither confirm nor deny; either one would compromise my anonimity. Sorry bro.

I suggest you join the NYC chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG). It is a Private Equity-centric networking organization. They hold monthly breakfast meetings and regular larger events. Attend enough of the meetings and you’ll get to know a bunch of PE guys and lawyers with PE/HF clients. It won’t pay immediate dividends, but down the road could very likely lead to something. Combine the networking from ACG with part-time MBA at NYU and I think you’ll be golden. Opportunity costs of a full-time MBA are too high with your salary.