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CBU MBA graduate class of 2010. Also known as Erin Wiles.

Ph.D. – M.B.A.


phdmbaWhy Would a Doctor Would Go Back to School?

“I‘m done with school forever!” I made that exuberant statement during the convocation ceremony as I was receiving my Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Arizona in 2006.  About 5 minutes later I decided to pursue a master’s degree in business administration; I would have made the decision a little sooner except I was in the process of walking up the stage to receive my diploma.  Considering I had received my Ph.D. in the biological sciences, an MBA was quite a departure from my scientifically-based curriculum.  Why would I want to pursue an additional degree in a completely different field?

The pursuit of multiple degrees does require a desire for a diverse knowledge base; I have been in the scientific field for over 10 years and was also incredibly interested in becoming more versed in the business discipline.  Obtaining an MBA would not only help me in my professional career but would be beneficial in my personal life by providing insight into the current financial crisis and also managing my own budget.  However, I needed more reasons to dedicate two more years to school.

Over the past several years, there has been a convergence of business and scientific research and, therefore, the two are no longer exclusive.  Scientific research is no longer composed of only conducting and analyzing experiments.  In fact, many major universities are now offering dual degree programs where a student can enroll in a Ph.D. or M.D. program and an MBA program.  In my own occupation as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, I oversee four different research projects and, in addition, have to manage and properly use my research budget.  Obtaining an MBA would provide additional skills with regard to budget and project management.  Interestingly, most business concepts have been derived from other disciplines and, therefore, can be easily reapplied to the scientific field.  For example, the utility of a SWOT analysis is to determine competitive advantage of a company but can be also applied to a scientific project to determine the liability of the project including the possibility of competing research groups working on a similar project.

Obtaining two degrees from different disciplines can complement each other and be incredibly beneficial in the long run.  For me, I outlined what I wanted to obtain from an additional degree and how I could apply that degree to my career.  As mentioned above, the benefit of an MBA is that the principles of business can be applied to not only various disciplines but also your personal life, making this degree certainly worth the two years of additional formal education.

Seriously, though, no more school after this!

Alan Pourpak. Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
MBA Concentration: General Management
Graduating: December 2010

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