“Every manager and leader in healthcare would benefit from learning what I learned on the Executive MBA programme”

17 May 2023

The participants in the Executive MBA programme at the School of Business, Economics and Law in Gothenburg are predominantly from the private sector. However, every year there are also a few participants from the public sector. Anna Pohjanen, who is currently Head of Administration at Region Halland, was one example of this when she attended the programme in 2017-2019. She thinks that more leaders from the public sector should attend the Executive MBA programme.

After many years as both a specialist doctor, as well as a leader with regional responsibility for maternity care and gynaecology at the five hospitals in Region Norrbotten, Anna Pohjanen felt she had to choose between the roles.

“You can’t do both parts equally well. I realised there are more people who can become good doctors than those who are willing to shoulder a managerial role. Moreover, I am driven by developing organisations and creating context at a higher level.”

Giving back to taxpayers
Her manager at the time, who was also a trained doctor, had himself attended an Executive MBA programme and suggested that Anna Pohjanen should apply. In the autumn 2017, she started the Executive MBA programme at the School of Business, Economics & Law at the University of Gothenburg. The participants came from many different industries and organisations. The representation from the public sector was significantly less.

“For me, it was incredibly helpful to discuss and reason with leaders from the private sector. I was under the impression that there was a big difference between running a public organisation and running a company, and that there were completely different logics. But the programme changed that view. The difference is not that big. We should run public organisations more like a business. Every manager and leader in healthcare would benefit from learning what I learned on the Executive MBA programme, albeit in a condensed form,” says Anna Pohjanen.

She explains, “Leaders in public organisations need knowledge of marketing, logistics and much else to be able to make a proper analysis of what affects the whole. Since we are tax funded, it is especially important to have professional governance and management. The driving forces are different than in the private sector, but the mechanisms that lead forward are largely the same. For us, money is not the goal but the means. We must balance our books and create a small surplus so that we can give back to the taxpayers by developing the operations and meeting new needs.”

Ready for even bigger assignments
When Anna Pohjanen started on the Executive MBA programme, she was responsible for almost 200 employees and a budget of around SEK 200 million. She also had extensive experience as a manager. The Executive MBA programme gave her a formal and theoretical build on the practical experience she already had, and it prepared her for even bigger assignments. After graduation, she was offered a job as divisional manager within Region Norrbotten.

“The training contributed both to me being offered the position and to me accepting it. It just felt right with a role on a more strategic level.”

Value-creating sum of parts
The Executive MBA programme in Gothenburg consists of 21 courses. Former participants often remember a particular course as being particularly transformational. Anna Pohjanen emphasises the importance of the whole programme.

“It was the combination of the different parts that made the education so valuable. The programme as a whole highlighted the connections between quality, strategy and finance. These are very important factors in healthcare and the public sector. I also appreciated how we got to tackle digitalisation, something I had already worked with quite a lot. Our lecturer, professor Johan Magnusson, really stripped it down to its essence and created an understanding of both the risks and the benefits, the challenges and the opportunities  highly relevant for us in healthcare.”

Another valuable and somewhat unexpected dimension of the program was the other participants.

“We had enormous cohesion in the group, and we meant a lot to each other in both personal and professional development during the program. We keep in touch and try to see each other now and again at reunions.”

An investment that pays off
The Executive MBA programme is given on a half-time basis over a period of 21 months. It involves on-site studies in Gothenburg from Thursday to Saturday every third week, as well as off-site studies in between. In combination with regular managerial/leadership roles, it demands a lot from the participants. Anna Pohjanen confirms that it was a challenge:

“You make a huge effort as an individual. But if you want to lead in the public sector at a strategic level, I think you should consider doing an Executive MBA. Employers shouldn’t hesitate about making the investment, it really pays off.”

Anna Pohjanen

For more information on GU Executive Education’s leadership programmes, see www.guexed.com or contact:

Peter Salomonsson, Sales & Business Development Manager
peter.salomonsson@handels.gu.se, +46 708 62 48 60

Håkan Ericson, CEO
hakan.ericson@handels.gu.se, +46 709 50 63 35