From nursing to business leadership

06 February 2024

Executive MBA (London) alumna Ola Kotun's career has been anything but conventional. It's a story of how a nurse with a vision embarked on a continuous journey of learning and discovery to become a leader in healthcare. 

The Unconventional Path: From Nursing to Business Leadership

As I reflect on my professional journey, it is clear that my career has been anything but conventional. I had never thought to do Nursing as a first degree but studied it due to the combination of a stable profession with a direct impact for helping people. However, once a healthcare assistant then qualified Nurse, I was driven by a deep passion to improve healthcare delivery. My days were filled with patient care and the intricacies of understanding the impact every detail made on each patient. However, there was always a part of me that yearned and knew that I could make a broader impact. I was eager to explore different facets of the healthcare sector and was determined to broaden my understanding beyond the confines of clinical practice.

Embracing Opportunities and Expanding Horizons

My career path has been a mosaic of diverse roles across the healthcare industry. Each position I held opened my eyes to the complexities and nuances of healthcare management. From training clinical technology, to co-founding a complex start-up in Africa, I was constantly learning and adapting. I realised that to truly make a significant impact, I needed a more robust foundation in business management. However, I was torn. Should I do a PhD to truly become an expert in healthcare system improvement or should I take a broader approach and learn what is truly required to improve any system?

The Executive MBA Decision: A Leap of Faith

The decision to pursue an Executive MBA at WBS was a pivotal moment in my life. Juggling a full-time job and my responsibilities as a parent, the evening Executive MBA (London) programme (with a specialism in Healthcare) seemed like a beacon of hope. It promised not only to enhance my business acumen but also to fit seamlessly into my hectic schedule.

A Journey of Learning and Discovery

The MBA programme was nothing short of transformative. Each module was an exhilarating learning experience, perfectly aligned with my thirst for knowledge. The curriculum was practical and relevant, allowing me to immediately apply what I learned to my professional life. Assignments were not just academic exercises; they were opportunities to delve deeper into topics I was passionate about, enriching my understanding and expertise. Although time consuming, I never felt that the topics were beyond my reach, capability or irrelevant - it was simply getting access to learning that I had not had before! A Saturday spent researching health systems across the world or a late-night group work looking into strategic themes and models, I can genuinely describe all these experiences as fun.

Beyond Academics: Building Lifelong Friendships

One of the most unexpected and rewarding aspects of the MBA programme was the friendships I forged. The cohort was a melting pot of like-minded professionals, each bringing a unique perspective shaped by their diverse backgrounds. These relationships transcended the classroom, evolving into lifelong friendships. Our discussions, both during and after classes, were not just intellectually stimulating but also provided emotional support that was crucial in balancing work, study, and personal life.

The Culmination: A Briefcase of Tools

Today, as an Executive MBA alumna of WBS, I stand at a revolving but familiar juncture in my career. I see the knowledge and skills I gained as a briefcase of invaluable assets that I carry with me into every meeting, boardroom or at times personal conversations. The tools can be used as required however, the journey to obtain this briefcase has been personal and professional metamorphosis.

This briefcase followed me through a transition into creating strategies in Big 4 consulting then into a leadership strategy and business development role at a global technology innovation firm. The briefcase grew and followed me into my current role as the Head of Clinical Operating Model at a big UK charity. However, it is still constantly growing, updated, and reviewed. In it, the tools to excel in business, but also evidence of skills which give me confidence in my ability to enact change.

A Message of Empowerment, Inspiration and Fun

To those contemplating a similar path, my journey exemplifies that it is never too early (as some will try to say this) or too late to define or redefine your career trajectory. The Executive MBA programme at WBS is a gateway to not just learning, but to a community of support and a network of professionals who are now lifelong friends.

In closing, my story is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and the transformative impact of learning and education. It is a narrative of how a nurse with a vision embarked on a continuous journey to become a leader in healthcare, at this point further guided by the rich learning experiences at WBS. This journey has been challenging, enlightening, and immensely rewarding, but ultimately, it has been fun.