"As an employer, I benefit from increased loyalty and the transfer of new knowledge to my organization." Mikael Runsiö - MD, PhD, MBA, CEO, Södertälje Hospital, Södertälje
Why did you take the SSE MBA?
Having worked as a heart surgeon for 20 years, I wanted to leave the specialist role and move towards becoming a generalist. Most people think that being a heart surgeon is about as exciting as it gets – which is true – but I still wanted change. I once worked as a ship commander in the Swedish Navy, and that was a lot of fun too, but not for the rest of my life.
Did the program change you?
Definitely. Returning to my former position afterwards would have felt strange. I moved on and became CEO of a hospital, which would not have happened had I not taken the program.
What was it about the program that triggered a change in you?
The broad scope of the program and the fact that many subjects were new to me, coming from a science background. And the fact that I encountered so many fascinating people, in class and among the lecturers. The company visits that formed part of the MBALive projects were also very inspiring.
What aspects of the program did you find particularly rewarding?
With a background in natural science I arrived with a preconceived notion of how research is to be conducted; views that were challenged by the program. Learning how knowledge is formed and validated within the social sciences proved an interesting and useful experience. Despite its claims to be an exact science, natural science reaches erroneous conclusions. The Earth isn't flat, for example.
Which program take aways have been particularly useful for you at work?
I have acquired a new set of tools and concepts that have made it easier for me to communicate with people from fields outside my own, such as political decision-makers, public officials and other important stakeholders.
What were the major strengths of the program, in your eyes?
I found the wide scope of the program as well as the opportunities for specialization and penetration tremendously exciting. Particularly when it came to subjects such as marketing and communication, which were new to me. Financial analysis and corporate valuation were very useful too.
You have three SSE MBA graduates on your management team. As an employer, what have you gained by sponsoring the participation of colleagues?
I benefit from an increased loyalty among those who took the program and of course they transfer new knowledge to my organization. We don't, to the same extent, have to rely on external consultants anymore since we have the requisite skills in house. In preparing business plans and launching various change projects, we have access to people with the proper set of tools, who can prepare analyses and assess different alternatives from a business perspective.
Taken together, this strengthens the entire organization and we have become even more professional.
What's your opinion on your fellow participants?
I found them incredibly exciting and working together with people from different academic backgrounds was a rewarding experience. The results become so much better when you incorporate perspectives and skills from a diverse set of people, and the joint projects were rewarding and instructive.
Do you have any advice for future SSE MBA participants?
Dare to challenge the faculty but be sure to immerse yourself in the program, knowing that the ultimate results will be amazing. You have to see the big picture before questioning the details too much.
During the weeks spent in class, go offline and try to ignore the distractions from the world around you. Make the right priorities and go for it – simply because it's worth it and will be repaid many times over. I would not be where I am today if I had not taken the program.