Tom Pearson-Jones

  • Degree Programme: MBA
  • Global Nationality: British
  • Profile Job Pre-programme: General Duties Medical Officer, British Army

Having achieved a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (BMBCh) from Oxford University, Thomas Pearson-Jones spent just under four years working as a Medical Officer in the British Army. As well as working as a junior doctor in primary care, he worked in numerous roles, and discovered a passion for the advisory and medical planning aspects of his role. He decided to study an MBA to understand the fundamentals of business and gain experience in the private sector, which he hopes to combine with his clinical experience in the future.

I’m originally from North Wales, so I started my education nearby in Chester before spending a couple of years attending sixth form in London. I studied medicine at Oxford University for a total of six years and have a first class BA in Medical Sciences and a BMBCh in Medicine.

After graduation, I worked as a General Duties Medical Officer in the British Army. I was selected to be a Medical Cadet in the British Army in 2013, halfway through my time at Oxford, and the Army sponsored me through my last three years of studying. I then went straight from university to work in the NHS in the West Midlands for two years, to complete the foundation programme. My day-to-day job was working as a junior doctor in large NHS hospitals and those two years gave me broad medical training, with three months each working in surgical specialities, acute medical specialities, A&E and some general practice.

I finished this role in August 2018 and went straight to Sandhurst to do a three-month Professionally-Qualified Officers Commissioning Course. After that, I went onto a five-month military medical training course, which was a specialised course to prepare Medical Officers for the clinical and professional aspect of the role, such as management of climatic injuries and tropical diseases, as well as broader topics such as the operational medical planning and mass casualty situations.

I was then posted to the 16 Medical Regiment. It was great and I worked there for three years, including some overseas deployments and taskings. I went to Bosnia with the Gurkhas, followed by Kenya with the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (3 PARA). This was a training exercise but medically it was quite challenging, as there were the complexities of evacuating patients from remote parts of Kenya back to hospitals, alongside interesting clinical conditions. It was a great experience working with a fantastic medical team. The last deployment I had was with 2 PARA, a different battalion of the Parachute Regiment. I was working alongside American Airborne between Italy and the Moroccan desert. I also achieved a diploma in The Medical Care of Catastrophes in 2019.

As a medical officer in the British Army, you have two roles. First, you’re a doctor on the ground, managing a team of military medics from different locations. Second, you’re also the medical advisor, advising the military leadership with things such as clinical advice, risks, and whether what they’re doing is compatible with safely evacuating casualties. The balance between these two aspects is always changing and I really enjoyed that dynamic.

During the coronavirus pandemic, I was part of a vaccination team. We would go into NHS Trust-led vaccination centres to support NHS staff, so that the centre could deliver significantly more vaccines per day. That was a really interesting experience because, again, I was often the only doctor, working alongside physiotherapists, military nurses and military medics. It was a really rewarding experience to be involved in the main push of vaccination delivery, and to be a part of that national effort. It was also great to support NHS staff, who had been working so hard throughout the pandemic.

I came to a point where the majority of my colleagues and peers were moving on to continue with their specialist training, and that’s when I decided I wanted to pursue an MBA. The advisory and medical planning sides of my job were the parts that I’d really enjoyed. I wanted to understand the context in which healthcare is planned, established and delivered, as opposed to being the person at the very end of that process, delivering it. My experience had been quite narrow professionally, as I’d only worked within two big British public sector organisations; the NHS and the British Army. I felt like I had a bit of a blind spot because I had no experience in the private sector and I didn’t really understand the entire, huge industry behind me that gave doctors and other healthcare professionals the ability to deliver care. So I really wanted to explore how wider healthcare systems work and how they interact with clinical delivery. It seemed like a sensible time to try and understand a bit more about the private sector and the fundamentals of business.

I knew that if I was going to step outside of my career and go back into education, it had to be somewhere that made that sacrifice really worthwhile. So I was looking for a university with a great reputation, where the qualification I would get would be globally recognised and valued. It also had to be somewhere that would tick the boxes in terms of what my aims for taking an MBA were; I wanted to gain an insight into the private sector, get a firm basis in business fundamentals and gain experience in a different industry. I looked at a number of different programmes and decided to apply to London Business School, and here I am.

I was really humbled when I found out I was going to receive the Sir James Ball MBA Scholarship. Financially, an MBA is a huge commitment, especially coming from the public sector. The scholarship has enabled me to jump head first into the programme and really get the most out of it, without having that grey cloud of financial worry hanging over me.

I’m a member of two clubs at the School; I’m treasurer for the Healthcare Club, and training and development officer for the Finance Club. Both of the roles align quite closely with what I’m trying to achieve with the MBA. I’ve been keen to maintain a link to healthcare, so being involved in the Healthcare Club felt natural to me, coming from a clinical background. Likewise with the Finance Club, it’s an area that I’d had no experience of prior to the MBA, so I want to do everything possible to build up my knowledge in this field.

The best part of the course so far has been meeting my stream and getting to know people from so many varied backgrounds. I was almost sceptical about how diverse a class could be, even though that’s one of the big selling points at the School. But having now been part of it for a term, it’s definitely not something the School oversells; it’s very accurate. In my stream alone, I think we have 30 different nationalities, and we’ve got people from a wide variety of backgrounds, from NGOs to investment banks to consulting. Being able to see the different thought processes that people bring has been really interesting. I’ve come from an industry that’s so well established; doctors have been doing roughly the same thing for hundreds of years in the UK. So it’s really refreshing to get fresh insights and understand that not everyone thinks in the same way as me.

We’ve been focusing on the core modules so far, and I’m looking forward to being able to tailor the programme a bit more. I want to dig deeper into finance topics and look at ways of bringing in electives to fit in with healthcare a bit more. Outside of that, I’m looking forward to some events that the Healthcare Club will be putting on, including The Health Tech Challenge and The Healthcare Conference.

My short-term career goal at the moment is to apply for investment banking summer internships, so I can get some experience outside of the public sector. I want to try and understand the role that finance plays in healthcare. From there, I would like to work within the advisory industry but maintain close links with healthcare companies, and work with them on their strategic problems.

My two pieces of advice for people considering an MBA are to look out and then look in. Look out by speaking to as many people as you can; the people I reached out to when I was applying were so happy to chat about their experience and the pros and cons, as well as what they’d recommend. It’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the process, so getting as much information as you can is the best move you can make. Looking in is also really important. You need to have a really clear picture of why you want to do an MBA; you need to know what you want to achieve out of it, who you are professionally and personally, where the gaps in your professional experience are and where your strengths are. Try to find a programme that aligns with what you want and is the best fit for you.

Tom Pearson-Jones was a recipient of the Professor Sir James Ball MBA Scholarship.

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