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The power of the practical BSN MBA for the pharmaceutical industry

In impact stories by Business School Netherlands

The pharmaceutical industry is a dynamic and demanding sector in which leaders are constantly challenged to keep up with changing market trends, regulations and technological advances. For Alumnus Marius Hooft, an independent entrepreneur in this industry, pursuing a pharmaceutical industry MBA was key to enhancing his management skills and filling the knowledge gaps in his expertise. In this article, we share his experiences and how Business School Netherlands (BSN) and the Action Learning method played a crucial role in his personal and professional development.

A practical approach

Marius began his MBA journey in 2015 with the conviction that he wanted to broaden his management skills. As a pharmaceutical professional, he specialised in marketing, strategy and sales, but he realised there were gaps in his knowledge, especially in operations, finance and human resources.
“I wanted to develop further to be better in my role and also make me more attractive again for new roles and career opportunities,” he said. The BSN Pharmaceutical MBA appealed to me because of the combination of a high level of education, practical focus and the unique concept of Action Learning, which is all about identifying actual problems in organisations and tackling them together in groups. The fact that BSN had its own beautiful location was also a plus.”

Support and interaction

During his studies at BSN, Marius received the support he needed.

“From the beginning of the course, there was a clear and solid programme, and in addition to the basic topics, there were also extra things included such as SmartReading. As every organisation experiences challenging periods from time to time, BSN also faces some organisational challenges. This affected us as students in the beginning, but BSN’s strength was that they took students’ concerns seriously and found appropriate solutions. Interaction with fellow students was invaluable in this regard. The success of the learning process depends heavily on the commitment and cohesion within the group.”

Marius remembers his subset, a small group of fellow students, fondly.

“Together, we even travelled to Kenya for an international Action Learning Project. I will never forget this trip! The project was very interesting, but to be able to do it with this group was a gift. In particular, the mutual respect and balanced dynamics within the group made it unique.”

The Surprises of the Pharmaceutical MBA

One of the biggest surprises for Marius during his pharmaceutical industry MBA was that it not only provided him with a lot of knowledge but also stimulated his curiosity and encouraged him to always look for deeper issues.

“I discovered that the Action Learning methodology is always applicable and delivers value. By playing with Action Learning elements, you always arrive at an approach to the problem that is going to help you get to the heart of the problem no matter what. In short, it is surprising how this MBA gives precisely not all the solutions, but the simple tools to approach organisational issues so that you can work from there to the right solution.”

Action Learning in Practice

Marius has integrated elements of Action Learning into his daily work as an independent entrepreneur, focusing on training and strategic issues.

“Action Learning is my way of working. In my strategic role, I am always looking for the practical application. Only when it comes to real implementation does it become valuable to me? I now approach problems with teams from diverse backgrounds and ask deeper questions to get to the heart of the problem. We have a strong tendency to move quickly into action mode. I am now working as a trainer in the pharmaceutical industry and there I often get the opportunity to ask teams whether we are now solving the real problem. A silence often follows, whereupon there is soon the conclusion that maybe we are not. That’s when Action Learning comes around the corner and it becomes really fun!”

The value of the dissertation, the Action Learning final project

Marius was working for a large organisation in the pharmaceutical industry at the time of his MBA and this dissertation was in line with the corporate strategy. It was entitled: ‘Implementation of a Customer-Focused and Digital Integrated Go-to-Market Model within the Pharmaceutical Industry’ with the subtitle ‘Fail Fast’.

“This was all playing out before Corona. The pharmaceutical industry was taking the first steps to achieve customer loyalty in a more omnichannel way and looking for ways to add more value for the customer to stay relevant. The biggest change that took place partly because of my dissertation is that the customer’s needs became central to: planning, execution and measuring success. Very specifically, I have set up several projects where, with client input, we determined the strategic pillars that deliver real value for the client. I have also frequently given the client a more prominent role in developing and optimising the content in creating the associated campaigns. The latest development is that customer assessment of the value of the interaction has become a standard measure of success, measured in the NPS score.

Funnily enough, the issue is still relevant now – 6 years later! There have certainly been strides made in this industry, but most companies are still searching for the right balance between value creation and commercial messages, as well as optimising the channel and content mix.”

Impact beyond the organisation

Although the dissertation added direct value to the organisation, the International Action Learning Project in Kenya brought Marius a broader perspective.

“We went to Kenya to contribute to solving an issue around water supplies. Apart from the fact that this was an insanely fascinating trip, it taught me that even in the non-profit environment, a lot revolves around interests related to money. I saw and learnt how living in poverty can be accompanied by creativity. And most importantly, if you approach others with respect and interest – anywhere in the world, you will come a long way.”

Personal and professional growth

Marius emphasises that elements of Action Learning are now deeply rooted in his way of working and thinking.

“What I do differently now is that I never blindly rely on my first solution. I look for the problem behind the problem and try to use the power and knowledge of the group to determine the best possible solution together.”

This practical approach has transformed Marius’ personal and professional development and contributed to his success as a strategic consultant and trainer in the pharmaceutical industry.
Would you also like to experience what Action Learning does for your way of thinking and acting and get acquainted with our MBA? Then take an MBA Trial Class and find out if this programme suits you.

Business School Netherlands


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