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Melissa Victoria, MS, MBA, PMP
Associate Director, Global Project Management
Program/Concentration: Jack Welch MBA with Healthcare Concentration
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOB RESPONSIBILITIES AT PPD.
PPD is a contract research organization (CRO) that provides various clinical research services to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, government, and academic organizations. As an Associate Director (AD) in Global Project Management (GPD), I am responsible for the strategic and financial oversight, leadership, and management of global-based, multi-million dollar Phase I-IV clinical trials from start-up through close-out that have been outsourced to my company by pharmaceutical, biotechnology, government, and academic institutions.
Why were you looking to get your MBA?
Obtaining an MBA was a life-long personal aspiration. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in both Biology and Business Management, and immediately after college, I completed a Masters of Science in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Upon graduating, I began a career in clinical research at Merck. There are limitless career paths and opportunities within clinical research; I soon realized I had a passion for the roles that allowed me to utilize both my science and business backgrounds. I then pursued clinical project management positions, first at Hoffmann La-Roche as a Global Project Manager and currently at PPD as an Associate Director within Global Project Management. I continued cultivating my project management skills and, in 2012, obtained my project management professional (PMP) certification. Finally, in 2017, after over 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, I was able to pursue an MBA. At this stage of my career, an MBA ensures I remain marketable and prepares me for the next chapter in my career, where I can utilize my new-found leadership skills.
HOW HAS THE JWMI CURRICULUM HELPED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
The concepts I learned at JWMI will allow me to earn the next step in my career trajectory as Oversight Director within Global Project Management. I was promoted to Associate Director the month before embarking upon my Jack Welch MBA journey, so I did not expect to earn additional promotions while in the program. At my current level, promotions are more challenging to attain. But, the MBA has not only lived up to my expectations but exceeded them as it provided the necessary soft skills needed at that next level. The Jack Welch MBA has made me a more impactful leader, a more efficient communicator, and provided the added confidence that has earned respect and notice from executive-level management.
The Jack Welch MBA has made me a more impactful leader, a more efficient communicator, and provided the added confidence that has earned respect and notice from executive-level management.
Did you find the curriculum was immediately applicable?
Absolutely. The material taught in the Jack Welch MBA program, and in particular, in the Healthcare concentration courses, address current, real-world Healthcare topics and issues such as medical laws and ethics, Six Sigma and Lean methodologies in Healthcare, and the role of financial management in driving quality in this ever-changing, complex industry. The format encourages peer-to-peer engagement, which provides an opportunity to interact with other Healthcare professionals from industries other than your own. There is a great deal to be learned from this approach that encourages different schools of thought and provides you the ability to attack issues from different angles and perspectives, which you would rarely have an opportunity to do outside this program.
LOOKING BACK AT WHAT YOU THOUGHT ABOUT AN ONLINE PROGRAM WHEN YOU FIRST EMBARKED, WHAT WAS YOUR OVERALL IMPRESSION NOW?
I was not sure what to expect upon initially beginning the Jack Welch MBA program. All my previous educational experience had been in a traditional setting and when I didn’t have additional responsibilities such as a family, a home, and a career. I initially had an unfounded stigma about online education; I wasn’t sure it would hold the same weight in my industry despite the time, dedication, and personal sacrifice required to complete it. After weighing the various MBA program options, I decided JWMI’s online MBA was the smartest option. Looking back now as a graduate, I can say that the program far exceeded my expectations.
JWMI’s program is demanding but achievable and, because of that, extremely rewarding. Through dedication and effective time management, you can complete it to your expectations. It is worth the personal sacrifices made in the short term to do so. I worked hard to work graduate with the distinction of Welch Scholar. I am extremely proud of my accomplishment and now share the tremendous benefits of online education with others who, as I did previously, may not realize the rigorous education you receive while enjoying maximum flexibility. I am proud to have earned this degree, perhaps more proud than any of my others. My sister-in-law is currently enrolled in her first class.
WERE THERE ANY FACULTY OR STAFF MEMBERS WHO HAD A MEANINGFUL IMPACT ON YOUR JOURNEY?
I had the pleasure of taking three classes with Professor Jason Gateas and sincerely appreciated the time and dedication he put into the classes. Professor Gateas goes above and beyond for his students. He provides clear expectations, consistently provides thought-provoking responses to discussion questions, is extremely thorough and quick with his grading, and makes himself available to his students by whatever means is most convenient to answer any questions. As a nice added touch, Professor Gateas also makes it a point to contact each student via telephone once a semester to informally check-in and see if there are other ways in which he can support them. Each week, he would regularly supplement the curriculum material with additional supporting articles and personal examples from his professional career. Most importantly, his enthusiasm and interest in the material encouraged me to put in that extra effort, even during weeks when I was exhausted and had a huge presentation for work or on days that my little one would be waking up in a few short hours.
As with most things in life, what you invest in determines what you get out of an experience. Faculty like Professor Gateas encourage that extra level of interaction and engagement and challenge you to go beyond where you believe you can go.
Connect with Melissa Victoria on Linkedin
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