“I’m now a much more open leader, able to adapt to new situations and place more trust not just in other people, but in my own judgement.”

Roko Malkoc

Business Unit Director at Better

Roko-Image-Final-2611-1440x900

Having grown up in a family of musicians in Slovenia, Roko Malkoc was set to become a concert pianist. But when he discovered a passion for science, everything changed.

Today, Better’s Business Unit Director reflects on a career in the healthcare sector and how the Accelerated Development Programme (ADP) helped Better enter two new global markets. 

Read more

I was born and raised in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, where I grew up in a family of musicians. My father played in the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and I followed in his footsteps, learning the piano at a young age and going on to play the pipe organ. I always assumed I was destined for a career in music, but when I started secondary school, I discovered my love of science, which changed everything.

I knew that science was a field in which I could make an impact. By growing my knowledge and experimenting with new research and technology, I knew I could make a difference and help change people’s lives, which ultimately set me on course to work in healthcare. I joined the University of Ljubljana in 2008 to study Biomedical Engineering at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering. While studying I worked as a TV host and co-founder of an innovation lab, which highlighted the fact that I enjoyed working as part of a team. I decided I didn’t want to solely focus on the technical engineering route, but instead a more business-focused role working with people from different functions.

After graduating, I worked as a Research Scientist for just over two years, going on to join Marand – a computer software provider – in 2015 as a Product Manager. My role at Marand focused on providing NHS trusts with electronic medication management product that helped them improve patient safety and reduce medication errors. I negotiated with stakeholders and learnt a lot about their needs and experiences which allowed me to develop a better product vision. This role served as an introduction to the business side of healthcare and cemented that it was the direction I wanted to go in.

In 2017, I took a step forward and became a Business Unit Director at Better. Better was established in 2019 when it was de-merged from Marand. With its new legal entity Better has continued to build on 30 years of successful work in the field of healthcare IT started under Marand. Today, the company’s solutions are putting organisations in control of their data and workflows so that they can simplify the work of care teams and transform the way they improve the lives of those they serve. At the time, we were still a startup, but we had global ambitions; in my first year, I successfully onboarded eight new employees, signed up two new hospitals in the UK and Slovenia, prepared a rebranding strategy and organised our first international community event in London. Despite my achievements, it was a bumpy road; it had been a fast journey from university to a leadership role. My responsibilities were increasing and the business kept growing, so I knew I needed to develop myself both personally and professionally in order to maximise my potential.

My learning journey 

“I knew about LBS’s reputation for attracting students from all over the world, which would give me the chance to experience different cultures and approaches to new markets.”

“The Accelerated Development Programme helped me realise that while we strive to have all the information to make a sound decision, it’s normal that we don’t.”

Read more

When a startup becomes a global player, you have to push forward at a rapid rate. I chose the ADP as I knew it would be the best way to accelerate my understanding of strategy, people management and leading businesses. I needed to learn about organisational behaviour, decision making and how to lead teams, and I needed to do it quickly. I also wanted to learn how to empower others, influence people and build a more open mindset. When I joined Better, we were focused primarily on Slovenia and the UK, but after four years we’d set out to enter new markets in Australia and New Zealand, along with opening up new offices in London and Hamburg, so I knew I needed to build a more global perspective. That’s why LBS and the ADP stood out. I knew about LBS’s reputation for attracting students from all over the world, which would give me the chance to experience different cultures and approaches to new markets. Added to this, my mentor and a member of Better’s Board of Directors, Iztok Drnovsek, had completed and experienced the benefits of the ADP in 1993. He was at the same career level as me when he joined and highly recommended it as a perfect fit, so I applied straightaway.

As one of the youngest in my ADP cohort, I’d often doubt myself, feeling that my fellow participants would have more to offer. But learning alongside such experienced classmates made me realise that I could add value. At the time of joining, I was focused on my career and how it would make me happy and successful. But speaking to people with a wealth of career and life experience showed me that striving to be happy and empathetic in your personal life – making time for your loved ones, for example – should be your greatest priority, and that it would have a positive effect on your career too. Learning alongside such accomplished people actually gave me confidence too; my classmates would often ask me for advice or for my opinion, which reinforced the fact that despite my comparative experience, I still had good skills and knowledge.

The ADP helped me realise that while we strive to have all the information to make a sound decision, it’s normal that we don’t; a realisation that was instrumental in boosting my confidence when entering new markets in Australia and New Zealand. My classmates, who were running bigger businesses than my own, would often experience the same problems as me and so I realised I wasn’t alone in not having everything figured out, which improved my decision-making ability. I had the confidence to lead my organisation to just jump in and do our best. And after successfully expanding, bigger opportunities came in – leading to engagements with healthcare boards in Southern Europe.

The brand behaviour sessions with Professor of Marketing, Nader Tavassoli gave me the tools to impact our customer experience. As a Business Unit Director, I’m responsible for shaping and delivering on our mission, brand, and value proposition, so these sessions really helped me understand why the brand itself is so important and that the customer experience won’t improve until it becomes our top priority. I was able to use this when building our brand and product – something that has helped us grow our customer base in different markets. Professor Tavassoli also covered the importance of where to locate your business and how this corresponds with your clients and employees. I found this particularly useful, as we were in the process of opening offices in London, UK and Hamburg, Germany.

Through the programme I developed knowledge that I now use in my day-to-day role to help shape our strategy. Value curves, red and blue ocean strategies, and knowledge around channels, distribution and pricing models are all things that have helped me immensely. Alongside what I’ve learnt, the programme gave me the chance to stretch my knowledge in areas that I was already familiar with, like branding strategies and delivering customer value, but at a higher level.

The impact of my experience



“London Business School empowered me to embrace change, rather than fear it.”

“The programme helped me drive the global expansion of Better, giving me the broader context I needed to help the business enter the Asia-Pacific region.”

Read more

The ADP helped me drive the global expansion of Better, giving me the broader context I needed to help the business enter the APAC region (Asia-Pacific). Every market has a different culture and its own way of working. The network I gained allowed me to check facts about different regions more quickly, giving me contacts that could connect me with people in APAC region (Asia-Pacific). When we entered the Australian market, for example, I’d built an understanding of the different strategic ways we could go about it – like partnering with organisations that add value, giving them an important segment of our offering and working with them to extend their portfolios. The negotiating classes I’d taken were crucial in this respect; they gave me the ability to shape our partner model throughout the expansion process.

I left LBS with an important takeaway – that in business, empathy is key. This is something Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Randall Peterson expressed in our leadership sessions. It’s also something I learnt from my classmates; senior business leaders who would talk about what’s really important in life. After completing the programme, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing uncertainty and challenge to different industries around the world. The digital health sector became more crucial than ever, as we were dealing with patient data and records at a time when hospital admissions were an international focus. This shift made my organisation’s mission, and the way we operate and interact with others, all the more important – bringing transparency to the healthcare sector, while also supporting and motivating the people working in it with a heightened level of sensitivity. 

In today’s new working world, building trust and empowering your people is essential. Moving online has become the norm for many organisations. It’s given people the freedom to choose where and how they work; being too dogmatic is no longer an option for leaders who want to be successful. LBS empowered me to embrace change, rather than fear it. I’m now a much more open leader, able to adapt to new situations and place more trust not just in other people, but in my own judgement.

The ADP helped me grasp the importance of feedback and learning from others. My colleagues have commented on my newfound clarity when making decisions, and have said that I’ve become proactively supportive of other people’s ideas, making them feel empowered and valued as a result. The 360 assessment we carried out as part of the programme also reminded me that we don’t always have to focus on our blind spots, and that making the most of our strengths is really important too. This is something I try to remind myself, and the people I work with, to ensure we’re always reaching our potential.

Just as LBS brings together business leaders from around the world to share and challenge each other’s unique perspectives, I’m excited to be part of something similar in the world of healthcare. As we’ve learnt about different healthcare systems, it’s become clear that a hospital in New Zealand would do things differently to a hospital in Slovenia. Despite this, we’ve observed that they have similar problems, and are trying to solve them with their own localised knowledge. When you put these hospitals together, it creates moments of discovery – there’s an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, and collaboration leads to novel solutions. But before this collaboration can happen, there needs to be a level of trust established. We’re working to build a global community that exchanges this knowledge, bringing transparency to the whole industry and benefitting it as a result. Looking to Better’s future, I’m proud to be part of an organisation that’s striving to build trust between members of the medical community around the world.

“My colleagues have commented on my newfound clarity when making decisions, and have said that I’ve become proactively supportive of other people’s ideas, making them feel empowered and valued as a result.”

Accelerated Development Programme

Reach your potential. Gain the knowledge, practise skills and confidence to step up to a general management role.