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MBA strengthens medical research career move

"I needed an MBA that is going to prepare me for the challenges of my future roles".

As a skilled medical research scientist, Dr Patricia Vietheer has spent much of her career in the global fight against infectious diseases.

A specialist in molecular biology, virology and immunology, Patricia’s career began in the science lab and has now taken her into management and program-development roles where she works with researchers in translating scientific ideas into public health solutions.

Recently, Patricia decided to enhance her skills with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) qualification that she’s currently undertaking with the Deakin Business School and expects to complete in 2018.

Her decision to study an MBA was prompted by a career move with leading not-for-profit medical research organisation Burnet Institute where she completed her postdoctoral training in the Viral Fusion and Vaccines Laboratory.

‘After returning from maternity leave, I continued to work part-time before being given the opportunity to work in the Office of Business Development, Innovation & Research. In 2016, I transitioned to full-time and helped establish the Eliminate Hep C Program at Burnet and was acting in the Program Manager, Disease Elimination role,’ she explains.

This year Patricia moved into the role of Deputy Head of Project Management & Quality Assurance while also acting as Program Manager, Healthy Ageing.

‘While I truly enjoyed the previous roles, I decided that the MBA would equip me with the necessary tools and knowledge to fully embrace this new career pathway. Already I am integrating what I have learnt into my new role,’ she says.

As Burnet’s Program Manager, Healthy Ageing, Patricia serves a strategic role in managing and coordinating multiple research groups working on complex health problems affecting national and international vulnerable communities.

‘I chose to major in Strategy & Planning with my MBA and this allows me to confidently shape the Healthy Ageing program, working closely with the program director to design, develop and implement the strategic and operational plan of the program in line with Burnet Institute’s 2020 strategic plan,’ she says.

Enjoying the ‘variety and people management’ aspect of her roles, Patricia says it’s rewarding to work with highly-motivated people who discover innovative solutions for some of the world’s most challenging health problems.

‘I love that I work with every area of the Institute and therefore get to meet a lot of new people. Burnet Institute works in many low-to-middle-income countries and I enjoy working on many of the Institute’s interesting projects ranging from new health discoveries in the laboratory to public health and international development activities with communities, and developing policies with government.’

Working in the not-for-profit sector means there are many unique challenges that Patricia needs to meet in her new role.

‘The constraints of working with limited resources – a typical challenge for any not-for-profit organisation – requires the ability to use initiative, think laterally and strategically, while meeting deadlines and producing quality work under time pressure.’

With busy career and family commitments, Patricia needed a highly-flexible postgraduate program and says the Deakin MBA has ticked all the boxes on her return-to-study list.

‘I needed an MBA that is going to prepare me for the challenges of my current and future roles and the Deakin MBA has certainly achieved that,’ she says. ‘I love the option of start anytime, fast-tracking with the residential options, and choosing on-campus and online options. Can’t turn up for a class? No problem – watch the recording. Working interstate or overseas? No problem – dial in via Skype and participate in a live class. Networking and meeting new people is also bonus. I highly recommend it.’

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