After Mike Sahara (MBA ’21) earned his degree in economics from the University of Michigan in 2013, he began his job search — along with a quest to find work he was passionate about.
As a young professional, he worked as a paralegal before joining Michigan Medicine as a clinical research assistant, also taking science courses to expand upon his undergraduate education.
“I fell in love with the work I was doing there and knew it was something I wanted to do with my life,” he explained. He decided to attend medical school and was accepted to Michigan State University.
Sahara knew he wanted to become a practicing physician, but he wanted to use his interest in business to impact lives as well. When he discovered the M.D./MBA dual-degree option available through the Broad Full-Time MBA program, he opted to combine his M.D. and MBA education.
“You can choose to do the MBA after your second year of med school — before your clinical rotations — or before your first year,” he explained. “Because I was so early in the process, I chose to complete it before my first year of med school.” There are currently four other medical students in Sahara’s MBA cohort.
Although he’s still focused on a career as a clinician, Sahara also recognizes the natural gap that occurs between health care administrators and practitioners, and he hopes to use his MBA to encourage teamwork and bridge the gap.
From day one, he’s been gaining hands-on experience in collaboration and teamwork while earning his MBA. When classes began, students were split into five-person teams to work together throughout the program. One of the team-based projects, Extreme Green, offers a series of hands-on case competitions that teach creative problem solving under pressure.
Most recently, Sahara participated in an Extreme Green Broad vs. Broad challenge involving a group of investors. The question: Should the investors hold, buy or sell stock in Procter & Gamble, knowing that its brand Gillette has taken a bold new approach to advertising?
“We divvied up the work in our group between qualitative and quantitative and had only a few days to bring everything together,” Sahara explained. “It was exciting to see a real-world example of how what we’re learning in class impacts business decisions.”
Once Sahara and his team — which also included fellow first-year MBA students Danielle Chatman-Moore, Zhijun (Cindy) Dong, Karthik Rai and Bradley Sauchak — completed an analysis, they created a presentation to share results with the cohort, the judges and participating faculty and staff. Based on demand elasticity, the external environment and historical comparisons, his team recommended that the investors buy stock — and their pitch was selected as this year’s winning idea.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to work in a team,” Sahara said. “No matter how well you get along, you still have to manage egos and differences in expertise. The teamwork experiences I’m getting now will easily translate into medicine in the future.”
As the M.D./MBA dual-degree becomes more common, Sahara thinks the medical field will benefit from seeing more clinicians who bring innovation, creative problem solving, communication and collaboration skills to patient care as well.
“I want to impact the lives of as many people as possible,” he said. “Having an understanding of how the business side of medicine works — and how it impacts clinical processes and the patients I serve — will make me a better physician.”