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Real Humans of Johnson & Johnson: Edward Yap, Georgetown McDonough MBA ’23, Marketing Manager

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How does one make a triple transition in function, industry, and geography? For Edward Yap, it was through the MBA program at Georgetown McDonough. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we learn how Yap found Georgetown’s focus on cura personalis and talented cohort exactly what he needed to develop his understanding of core business disciplines and confidence in a new corporate setting. Read on for more on how McDonough prepared him for a huge career leap and success at Johnson & Johnson.

marketing mba

Edward Yap, Georgetown McDonough MBA ’23, Marketing Manager at Johnson & Johnson

Age: 35
Hometown: Oceanside, New York
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Notre Dame, Political Science, Hesburgh Program in Public Service
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year: Georgetown University, Class of 2023
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Various Roles including Deputy (D.C.) Press Secretary and Communications Director, U.S. House of Representatives, 3 years, Public Sector; Senior Account Executive: Economy & Energy Practices, CRC Public Relations, <1 Year, Communications; Senior Policy Advisor (including for healthcare), State of New South Wales (Australia) Government, Office of the Finance Minister and Office of the Treasurer, 5 Years, Public Sector; Project Lead, Financial Resilience Social Venture, <1 Year, Social Impact
Post-MBA Work Experience: Marketing Manager (MedTech Marketing Leadership Development Program), Johnson & Johnson, <1 Year, Healthcare

Why did you choose to attend business school?
As a communications director on Capitol Hill and a senior policy advisor in Australia, healthcare was central to my job, whether improving care for veterans and seniors or preparing a state economy and health system for the pandemic.

I appreciated the ability to make an impact in these roles, particularly in improving care and expanding access, and I was attracted to the possibility of making a greater impact on a global scale in a private-sector healthcare organization.

I attended business school to strengthen my understanding of core disciplines like marketing, operations, and finance and ultimately facilitate a triple jump in function, industry, and geography.

After doing research, I concluded that a leadership development program would be a good starting point, and I saw that earning an MBA was a common denominator for others who’ve made similar transitions. And I pursued a full-time two-year MBA because I believed a summer internship would be a helpful step.

Why Georgetown McDonough? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
First and foremost, I was fortunate in my earlier career in public service to work in organizations and alongside people with a strong sense of mission, values, and purpose, and I was looking for an MBA program with those characteristics.

I learned about Georgetown’s focus on cura personalis, or care for the whole person, and I believed this would both attract a different kind of collaborative student and foster an environment where we could support each other in developing as leaders focused on people and purpose.

Second, while researching programs, my wife Michelle (also an MBA’23!) and I canvassed our family and friends abroad, and they reinforced Georgetown’s global reach and reputation. I also valued the opportunity to learn alongside students from all over the world and to work on a consulting project as part of Georgetown’s unique Global Business Experience.

Lastly, I have nontraditional global and public sector professional experience, and Georgetown was uniquely placed to help me translate both successfully to the private sector post-MBA.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career as a marketing manager?
Georgetown’s Healthcare Ecosystem
Georgetown’s location and breadth of offerings open many opportunities to business students. For example, throughout business school, I proactively reached out across and developed relationships with Georgetown’s expansive healthcare programs and healthcare venture and entrepreneurship community. This led to planning the Georgetown Healthcare Business Conference that brought together MBAs with future doctors, nurses, and public health professionals for discussions on digital health, health equity, career planning, and other topics.

Excellent & Caring Faculty
I learned from excellent professors about important areas including strategic decision-making, behavioral economics, change management, and entrepreneurship — in addition to core business disciplines. Professors were caring and willing to come in early or stay late and discuss a company’s financial statements before an interview. And I appreciated the opportunity to learn from leaders in social impact while working for the Pivot Program, which helps previously incarcerated individuals achieve career success, and planning the Healthcare Business Conference. These experiences reinforced my sense of shared responsibility and strengthened my desire to work at a company with similar values.

Talented & Global Classmates
One of my fondest memories from business school was presenting at a biotech case competition. My four teammates were smart, talented, diverse, and down-to-earth — and they are exactly the kinds of people you find at Georgetown. Our personal and professional experiences reflected Georgetown’s global character, spanning nearly fifty countries, notably Australia, Brazil, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United States. I’d like to continue to have a career that spans geographies, and this was a valuable opportunity to grow in that respect.

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice of a marketing manager at Johnson & Johnson?
I interned with AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, where I supported Skyrizi in the immunology franchise and was aligned with the global market access and pricing function.

The internship provided valuable experience in key commercial disciplines and, as my first time in a corporate setting, gave me confidence I could successfully make the transition even though I came from a very different background.

In addition, I proactively reached out to people across functions and geographies, and from those conversations, I learned about the challenges and opportunities of the pharmaceutical industry and the broader healthcare sector.

Ultimately, while I found market access and pricing very interesting, I decided that my near-term career goals better aligned with a broader marketing program.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
Credo & Culture
Throughout my career, I’ve loved working in organizations and with people driven by mission, values, and purpose. My interest in Johnson & Johnson is underpinned by the Credo, the core values of the organization, particularly its focus on putting patients, healthcare practitioners, families, and communities first. The Credo is also exemplified in how supportive people are of each other’s wellbeing and professional development.

Global Reach & Impact
Johnson & Johnson is the world’s largest and most diversified healthcare products company, with a presence in nearly every operating room in the world and more than 75 million operations per year. That means the innovations in development today could one day shape the future of healthcare. This translates into a lot of meaningful work to do and opportunities to make a direct impact on patients around the world.

Continuous Learning Opportunities
One of my top criteria was finding a company where I’d continue to learn throughout my career. The MedTech Marketing Leadership Development Program was attractive because rotations in upstream and downstream marketing would provide experience and perspective in two years that usually take several to gain. In addition, Johnson & Johnson prioritizes and invests significant resources in education. Since starting, the amount I’ve learned has far exceeded anything I’d expected. I’ve undertaken rigorous training in anatomy, physiology, and our products as well as in marketing strategy and launch excellence. What’s great is that the organization also entrusts us with a level of responsibility and autonomy from day one that provides an ideal environment to learn and grow.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Business school is a valuable time to take a step back, evaluate your career, and blue sky possible paths. Just as it’s important to explore, it’s crucial to focus and immerse yourself by following industry and company news, learning the ins and outs of financial statements, paying close attention to relevant cases in class, and having coffee chats.

It’s also important to be realistic and consider: Where do your experience, interests, personality, and values converge? Where do you feel the most fluent? Where does conversation come easiest? And what feels the most natural for you?

That’s not to say there isn’t room for career switchers. But that is to say after you’ve immersed yourself in different industries and functions, you should ask yourself, what’s sticking?

I considered different paths during business school, but by immersing myself and reflecting on those questions, I found I was most conversant and drawn to healthcare.

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
I didn’t realize how early recruiting started and, while I was fortunate to be able to consider some great opportunities and accept an internship at AbbVie, I didn’t have much time to explore before my first-year recruiting process concluded.

During my second year, I started from the basics by taking a top-down look at the healthcare ecosystem and identifying a list of industries and companies I was interested in learning more about. I took a deep dive into those areas including by reading everything I could find and reaching out broadly for coffee chats.

Through this process, I learned much about the healthcare ecosystem, discovered a lot of great companies, and met many wonderful people I still stay in touch with today.

Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
Coming from the public sector, I’d never heard of a “sell day” or “sell weekend.” Once you’ve received an internship or job offer, you may receive such an invitation, and I’d enthusiastically recommend attending.

These events are a helpful way to gauge whether a company or program is a cultural fit for you, and they are great opportunities to meet the people you will grow with in your future company.

It was one of those weekends that gave me the confidence that Johnson & Johnson was right for me — everyone was so welcoming, friendly, intelligent, and down to earth.

If these kinds of events aren’t an option, you may want to organize a Zoom call or attend a local meet-up with others considering joining the same company or program.

What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Interviews are naturally formal environments. A good interviewer will make you feel welcome and comfortable. But you should also try to make the interview as warm as possible and as informal as appropriate. Remember to be yourself.

In addition, some candidates filibuster when they should actually be short and sharp. Giving long answers does a disservice because there’s a finite amount of time, and interviewers may need to get through a list of questions to provide a full and fair evaluation.

Candidates also sometimes talk at interviewers rather than with them. Where possible, make it a two-way chat. If you have time to ask questions, don’t think of it as a rigid process of asking a question + getting an answer. Engage your interviewer in a conversation about topics like what attracted them to the company and their proudest accomplishments.

Lastly, people in healthcare are passionate and mission-driven, and successful candidates will share that energy. That may be true about other industries, but it is especially true about healthcare.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.