Meet Health Care MBA Student, Manjola Ujkaj ‘18SM
Manjola Ujkaj started medical school in Albania, where she was born and raised, before transferring to the University of Bologna in Italy. After graduating from medical school in 2003, Manjola began a PhD program in human psychobiology and completed her degree as an exchange student at Harvard Medical School. She completed her residency training in psychiatry with the in 2012.
In her current role, Manjola is a psychiatrist responsible for the outpatient treatment at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts in the Psychiatric Neurotherapeutics Program. She is also an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a senior consultant and faculty member for Levinson Institute, a management consulting company.
Manjola had just completed her first term in the HealthCareMBA@Simmons program and was six months pregnant with her second child when she joined 22 classmates to attend the Leadership and Strategic Career Management Immersion on the Simmons College campus in Boston. Despite the demands of her career and personal life, Manjola carved out time to attend the immersion and found the experience to be valuable and encouraging.
Why did you decide to pursue your master’s degree?
While I do have management experience, and I obviously work in health care, my goal is to hold an administrative executive position in the health care industry. I’d like to impact the overall business, in addition to being an individual contributor as a scientist and writer.
What made you decide to choose Simmons’ MBA program?
I have a full plate, I work full time, and I have my family priorities. I would like for those to remain as intact as possible. An in-person MBA was not really an option for me, and I started looking for highly rate and innovative online MBA programs with a health care focus. Faculty and curriculum were key factors for me in choosing an MBA program. Simmons stood out in both areas. The fact that the online learning experience includes weekly live classes guarantees that I still get to interact with my peers and faculty. I look at the program not only as an opportunity to learn through high-quality content, but also an opportunity to build a network and connections within the health care industry.
Tell us about your experience collaborating with classmates in an online environment.
Collaborating in the online classroom is very enriching. We are a group of diverse people from diverse backgrounds and diverse industries. The first few courses combine MBA and Health Care MBA students, so I always appreciate perspectives from people who are outside the health care system because you get to see through different lenses and learn different concepts.
Although sometimes group assignments can be challenging because of different time zones, work schedules, or time needs, somehow we always manage. I think of that as training for the real life of an administrator. People have different priorities and you have to figure out how to work together.
How will this degree move you closer to your long-term career goals?
My long-term goal is to run a hospital. An MBA gives you the credibility and the knowledge that you need to build connections within a network. I have a lot of knowledge on how to manage people, and I see an MBA as a crucial step in expanding my knowledge to other aspects of business. I think it’s necessary to move forward and assume administration leadership roles in the health care industry. I think an MBA in conjunction with my clinical and research experience is going to increase my confidence and put me in a much better position to be a competitive applicant when the time comes.
What advice do you have for others considering this degree?
I usually tell people to look where you are in your career and your education path and think about where you want to be. Draw that line and see what could be helpful. Consider what an MBA is going to give you and how an MBA is going to position you on the path toward your career goals. Have a sense of what the current priorities are in your life, education, work, family, and finances. If you find something that really fits your needs and your schedule, you are going to position yourself to get the most out of your education and build a rich network of professional connections.
Tell us about your experience at the immersion.
I wish we could do them every three months. I felt from a motivational perspective and from a human perspective, the immersion added a lot of value to the overall MBA experience. I feel even more part of the Simmons community after meeting other students and faculty.
What was the most valuable thing you learned this weekend? What was the most significant thing you took away?
I also found the topic of career development absolutely helpful and eye-opening. I think the exercise looking at the past and our career paths so far was really powerful. We looked at high and low points and how they impacted our careers and lives. I think looking at past victories and failures helped me understand my trajectory.
What session did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed the session on brand building. I was somewhat familiar with the topic, but did not have a clear understanding. Alesia Latson, the lecturer, was fantastic. She was an incredible speaker and teacher, and she presented a very clear framework to understand your brand and improve upon it. I felt that that was extremely helpful.
What was it like meeting and connecting with your classmates in person?
It was valuable to just have time to sit, chat, share some of the struggles, laugh together, but also get to know a little more about people’s lives. When you meet other people in person, you have more time to hear their stories and share your stories. We are all in the same boat; we are all motivated and eager to earn our MBAs, and we are all juggling and balancing our lives, jobs, and education. It was very encouraging.