New online MBA specialisation equips the next generation of leaders in Medical Technology and Pharmaceutical sectors

New leaders who want to be effective need more than an in-depth knowledge of their industry. Their technical knowledge needs to be supported by a well-rounded commercial acumen and effective leadership skills.

There is a shortage of professionals who have a combination of technical capability and business acumen, which is causing a worrying skills gap in many sectors.

AGSM @ UNSW Business School’s MBAX online program aims to bridge this gap. The program allows students to combine an MBA with specialisation in contemporary fields such as Finance and Technology. Ranked among the world’s leading online MBAs, the Part-Time MBAX program also combines flexible learning with high quality education – allowing students to fit their studies around their schedules and commitments.

“Equipping the next generation of leaders with the combination of business acumen, leadership skills and industry specialisation is vital to keep Australia’s most important sectors growing,” says Nick Wailes, Director AGSM and Deputy Dean UNSW Business School.

One of the most innovative sectors of the Australian and global economy is Medical Technology and Pharmaceuticals . It has contributed $4.9 billion to the Australian economy since 2016 and employs over 4.4 million people around the world. And while the vibrant sector offers an abundance of different leadership roles, organisations are struggling to fill them.

To address this challenge, AGSM recently launched a new Medical Technology and Pharmaceutical (MT/P) specialisation as part of its MBAX program. It will equip leaders at the intersection of business and MT/P to make an impact in today’s rapidly accelerating world.

“Larger medical technology and pharmaceutical companies are looking to fill more strategic roles with people with high-level business acumen,” says Associate Professor Orin Chisholm, UNSW Program Director, Pharmaceutical Medicine.

“This MBA offers a combination of specialist courses in pharmaceutical medicine, bio- and medical technology development, as well as business management and leadership courses. It will enable graduates to understand both aspects of their industry.”

The MT/P stream is the first program of its kind in the southern hemisphere and will guide leaders to explore new opportunities and grow their careers in the sector.

Like other MBAX streams, MT/P is designed for a range of backgrounds: from professionals transitioning into leadership roles and business professionals looking for new opportunities, to entrepreneurs in bio- or medical technology or pharmaceuticals.

Those in the MT/P industries can develop their commercial and leadership skills, while leaders new to the sector will gain the specialist knowledge needed to move into the industry or launch their start-up company.

Building business acumen with a medical lens

When people move into leadership roles, they often find they need to do further study to gain a broader management perspective.

“As people are promoted or change roles, they’re looking at broadening their horizons and developing higher quality thinking around the management of the business,” Chisholm says.

AGSM’s MBAX program allows the next generation of leaders to specialise in contemporary fields where a combination of leadership and technical skills are in high demand. In the MT/P stream, students also benefit from the expertise of multiple faculties. By leveraging the combined knowledge of UNSW’s highly regarded AGSM, Medical Sciences, Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering Schools, the stream enables students to understand the medical areas of their roles while also developing leadership skills and business acumen.

The highly practical program allows students to apply concepts and tools to their day-to-day roles immediately – making them more effective in their careers.

Developing skills and connections to work across functions

The sector is made up of diverse teams from commercial operations and medical affairs to pharmaceutical product and medical device development. The MT/P program helps students understand these functions and develop the right skills to work across them.

“If you are in medical affairs and you take some of the regulatory or clinical trials courses, you will gain an insight into what's involved in your colleagues’ roles, how they work and what their priorities are and vice versa,” says Chisholm.

This gives leaders a more holistic view of how to work together with cross-functional teams to achieve company goals more effectively.

The range of connections students will develop throughout the degree will be invaluable in developing a broader perspective and building lasting relationships.

“Professionals studying the degree come from companies in and outside of the pharmaceutical industry, from Australia and around the world. Students can develop strong, supportive networks that will last long after they complete their degree.”

Learning and collaborating in interactive virtual environments

The AGSM MBAX is the amalgamation of over 25 years of online teaching and over 40 years of leadership experience. It gives students the flexibility to fit in an MBA with full-time work and provides an interactive and engaging learning experience.

“People are often surprised by the amount of interaction they have with their fellow students,” Chisholm says. “The degree fosters collaboration and encourages interaction with fellow students, lecturers and team members – so that students feel part of a community.”

Students may attend live webinars and online interactive lectures. They participate in discussion forums and maintain connections in group projects through social media platforms. Working together in various virtual environments, they learn how to interact and work effectively with others online. This is an increasingly important and valued skill in the workplaces of today.

While studying online offers flexibility – and is the ideal solution during the current COVID crisis –students who prefer face-to-face learning will also have this option for certain courses once restrictions are relaxed. With weekly evening or weekend intensive classes, students can set the pace and style of their learning over a three-year period.

The AGSM’s MBAX program offers students the ideal balance between technical capability and commercial acumen. It provides them with specialised knowledge in their chosen fields and enables them to become better leaders – a proven platform to accelerate their careers.

Enrolments are now open for AGSM’s MBAX MT/P program. To apply or learn more about the specialist streams available, visit