Wondered what it's like to work at GE Healthcare Partners? Assoicate Consultant Laurel Issen shares her experience of the past year.

What kind of assignments we work on:

We are focused entirely on improving healthcare, though the versatility of assignments within that has been incredible. I have been on the UK team for one year, which is growing across the Nordics and the rest of Europe and the Middle East. Here are a couple of examples of projects from my personal perspective: 

Flash Discovery - Challenges and Opportunities to transform healthcare services in one county into an Accountable Care System

As most people know, the UK has a universal healthcare system, the NHS, which is funded by public taxes. As is the case in many industries both public and private, the system could work together more effectively and efficiently to provide a better service, but staff and managers find it difficult to understand the entire system when they spend their day-to-day job seeing only one part of the patient journey.

In this four-week project (two weeks on-site, 2 weeks back home in London), I spoke with nurses, doctors, mid-level managers, and CEOs, and observed ward rounds and multi-disciplinary team meetings. I triangulated my observations with quantitative data to form a broader picture of the service, much like I did in my PhD. I also collaborated with several of my colleagues, who were doing the same thing to understand other parts of the healthcare system.

Our output was a summary of 12 key problems statements which were actionable and backed up by specific observations. These were supported as well by key enablers and a proposed program of work where we could help them resolve these problems. The CEOs of several organizations were very receptive to this document, and are excited to work together to form a Command Centre for the healthcare system, similar to the work GE has done in Johns Hopkins to form a NASA-style mission control for the hospital:

Venture Validation - Identifying emerging trends in Respiratory Over-the-Counter products and digital health solutions

Another great project was with a major pharmaceutical company to help them identify start-up companies that were producing drugs, drug-free molecular therapies, digital health apps, and other innovations for improving consumer respiratory health without the need for a prescription.

Here, my academic background was a huge advantage. Whenever we found a new start-up or product, we had to rapidly evaluate the scientific validity of its claims. I was able to quickly find peer-reviewed journal articles to inform the claims, scan the abstracts and a few charts in the results, and determine the methodological rigor and how well I was convinced by the scientific evidence. One thing I had to adapt to was to find the right balance of scanning this information without delving into the details like I would have in my PhD. Even though I am a salaried employee, my client was paying for my input by the hour, and the client only wanted to know a scale rating - something like highly credible, promising, or bogus. They had a much different threshold of evidence as compared to my professors, and I had to adjust accordingly.

What I’ve realised on the job: where academics would see me as a student or a novice, my peers and clients in industry see me as an expert

As far as academia is concerned, I have a few very specific areas of “expertise” or “specialism” - these are difficult to communicate outside of the small cohort in which I was educated, and include things like “neural substrates of perceptual decision-making” and “Bayesian modeling for multi-sensory integration.”

In my role now, I’m considered an expert in data modeling and analytics, models of learning, and driving innovation by building inter-disciplinary teams.

As a PhD, I would have never considered myself an expert in data modeling, because I had friends and colleagues who were publishing ground-breaking articles on new methods in this space.

Now, because I have been exposed to these ideas, I can suggest methods of simulation and statistical analysis to model the impact of population projections to demand in healthcare services. And when I don’t know how to do it, I know how to search journals for the latest developments.

I’ve also discovered that I picked up a much broader set of skills, such as understanding the ways in which people learn and process new information. Again, I never would have considered myself and expert in this field, but because of my coursework, I picked up valuable information that I use when I deliver workshops with clients, for example interspersing information with hands-on exercises and opportunities for discussion when I’m helping nurses and doctors build their skills in using data to improve healthcare services.

Finally, I have come to understand the market value of the age-old tradition of forming a thesis topic and committee. By doing this, we have to thoroughly understand the current state of affairs in our field, identify an opportunity for innovation, then assemble a team of experts around us to do something new that no one has ever done before. This skill is highly relevant and transferable to industry, particularly in consulting when we have a short time to identify an opportunity, assemble a team, and put a plan into action.

What it’s really like day-to-day:

What it’s like on my team is a bit different for what it’s like in the US team, so I can't speak for what it's like there.

On the UK team, I eagerly seek out opportunities that are the best for my career growth, which sometimes means increased travel, workload, and time away from home.

What this means is something like Monday 7 hours travel / 3 hours work, Tuesday / Wednesday 8-10 hours per day on client site, Thursday 4-5 hours work / 7 hours travel, Friday working from home. I might have that sort of schedule for 3-4 months, and then spend some more time on local and internal projects. In those “recovery” periods, I’m still doing interesting work, but it’s more of a 40 to 45 hour work week and can see my friends in the evenings.

My advice to people actively looking for opportunities:
Identify the right opportunities, then do your homework!

When I was searching for a new role, it was so tempting when I saw a new opportunity to spend a few hours tweaking my CV and firing off an application. Only a couple of these resulted in an awkward initial interview—most of them went absolutely nowhere.

But when I saw something that I was convinced was the right fit, I put so much more effort into it. I spent some time rearranging my CV so it exactly matched the key skills in the job description. I networked with people in the organization to find out context and relevant case studies (such as the Johns Hopkins work above) and worked this in to my cover letter. And it worked! I was told that out of 100 applications that came out of the PhD to Consulting seminar I attended, I was the only one that got to the interview stage, and what made my application stand out was the fit to the organization. Does that mean no one else who applied would have fit into the role? Unlikely! But I was able to demonstrate that fit, and that made all the difference.

With that in mind, we are recruiting!

If you think this line of work sounds interesting, I would encourage you to look at our recent job posting for this role in UK-based team working across Europe / Middle East.

If you meet the essential and desired characteristics and are looking to apply, please get in touch and send a targeted CV to show how you would fit.

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