In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, Megha Motgi explains the vital role The Wharton School played in shifting her career within healthcare. Read on for her insights into Wharton’s prestigious Health Care Management program and what recruitment was like with Pfizer.
Megha Motgi, Wharton MBA ’21, Senior Manager at Pfizer
Hometown: Dallas, TX
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Georgetown University (School of Foreign Service), Science, Technology, and International Affairs
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): The Wharton School, 2021, Health Care Management
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): A little less than 5 years, healthcare services (revenue cycle management consulting)
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 1.5 years healthcare (pharmaceutical marketing)
Why did you choose to attend business school?
I wanted to pivot within the healthcare industry, to another sector and function. I knew going to a business school with a strong healthcare program would give me exposure to other parts of the industry and roles to consider, and help me make a transition I likely wouldn’t have been able to make without an MBA. I also wanted to gain a network of peers who would go on to be business leaders, and from whom I could learn and collaborate with in the future. And lastly, I knew that having an MBA from a well-reputed program would be beneficial as I seek out higher leadership positions in the future.
Why Wharton? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I was drawn to Wharton for its reputation, and because of its Health Care Management (HCM) program. It’s a program of 70-80 students who bring a variety of different healthcare backgrounds to the table and who are interested in pursuing roles or ventures in healthcare after school. As an HCM student, you’re expected to take some healthcare-specific coursework, and you have a number of different classes to choose from. The program is very tight-knit, and the head of the program, June Kinney, is a defining part of the experience. She brings in such a diverse set of students to the program, maintains a dedicated and loyal alumni network, and invests in bonding experiences during the two years, like karaoke and HCM roasts, that everyone gets very into.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
I took a number of healthcare courses that rounded out my understanding of different parts of the industry and gave me good foundational knowledge. I took a class on the pharma industry that gave me useful information on the various processes, stakeholders, regulations, etc. that I found extremely helpful when it came time to interview for pharma marketing summer internships, and while in role. HCM students also do a Field Application Project (FAP) as part of our course classes, which involves working as a consultant for a healthcare company for one semester. I chose a FAP working with a pharma company, which came in handy during my summer internship. Even more, though, was being able to tap into my Health Care Management peers who had either worked directly in pharma prior to school or who had exposure to pharma as consultants. I sat down with several peers to understand what a career in pharma marketing would look like so I had a sense of what I was signing up for, the kinds of skills I would need, and the work I would do in my day-to-day. The Wharton alumni at Pfizer have been instrumental to my experience, as well, and I often reach out to them for advice, their perspectives on a given project, and success factors to keep top-of-mind. While at Wharton, I also had such a positive experience with MBA Career Management. The Health Care advisor, Manisha Jain, gets so invested in each student and makes sure they pursue roles that genuinely excite them and are a good fit.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned at Pfizer as a Marketing Rotational Program (MRP) summer associate. The goal was to test out whether I liked pharma, the company, and the role, and I am very happy to share that the answer to all three of those ended up being a resounding “yes.” I thought the people at Pfizer were incredibly smart, strategic, and fun, and I loved the work. I accepted my offer to return as a full-time marketing manager after school.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I was drawn to Pfizer, originally, by the Wharton alumni who came to campus for recruiting. I found them all to be stellar, supportive, and frank, and I appreciated how favorably they spoke about their careers at Pfizer. The only way to join the Marketing Rotational Program as a full-time employee is by doing the summer internship and getting an offer to return, so I made the decision in the fall of my 2nd year after being presented with an opportunity to return after graduation. I had an awesome project during my summer internship, was encouraged by the diversity of roles that you can have within marketing and at other parts of the company, and felt like it was a career move that would develop valuable professional skills I would need no matter where I end up.
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
One silver lining of COVID was that companies that were not supportive of remote work began being more open to the idea that employees could be effective from their home office. My company has historically required marketers to be in our New York HQ, but I am now able to work remotely full-time from my hometown in Dallas.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Before recruiting for summer internships, I sat down with a bunch of HCM second years to learn about their pre-MBA careers, and to share my likes, dislikes, and skillset to hear their thoughts on what types of roles in healthcare may be worth considering. What came out of those conversations was a resounding recommendation to try out pharma marketing, which I probably wouldn’t have thought to consider, or wouldn’t have considered as highly, without those discussions. I also tapped into the HCM alumni network and spoke to a bunch of different people to understand what they do, how they got there, and how they thought about their future career plans, and I gained so much good advice and perspective from all of those chats. I personally find those types of conversations to be the most valuable, because you hear perspectives from people who are invested in your finding the right fit, so they’re usually very honest and willing to give recommendations.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I came into business school with the mindset that, while I wanted to be intentional about my course selection, getting the best grades was not my goal. I wanted to spend my time on other priorities like networking, clubs, and recruiting, for example. But coming into the program, you’re surrounded by a lot of academically successful people who are used to performing at a certain level, and I think seeing how seriously a lot of people were treating their exams and grades made me spend more time preparing for class than I probably would have otherwise. Your time is limited and so precious when you’re in school, because it’s a finite experience that will fly by before you know it. You worked so hard to get into a great program, so avail yourself of the people and programs that will end up having a much greater impact on your experience than will getting the best grades.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
No, in fact, it was the most straightforward, positive recruiting experience I’ve had to date. I knew, broadly, what to expect for first-round interviews, and was able to speak with Wharton alum at Pfizer to understand how best to prepare for second-round interviews. We were told at the beginning of the final-round interview what the day would involve, what kinds of interview questions we would get, and when we would hear back with decisions. There were several companies that were not very organized during the recruiting process, both in terms of the presentation of materials as well as in setting up interviews, and I was definitely influenced by such factors when considering where I wanted to apply.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Even if you think you know what you want to do immediately after school, take a class on a topic in which you have an interest, have a bunch of informal chats with people in an industry or job you may want to consider, down the road, to start planting the seed of how you might incorporate that into your life in the future. Getting information and perspectives from people who have experience, are willing and available to chat, and eager to share is something to really take advantage of while you have the opportunity. Even though you have the alumni network after you graduate, finding time to have those chats when you’re back in the working world is challenging.