Advances in science and technology have led to the rapid evolution of the healthcare sector. To stay abreast of the changes, companies like Philips invest heavily in healthcare informatics to proactively develop the tools and equipment needed for diagnosis, treatment, and disease prevention.

This is where Business Intelligence Analyst Keerthana Sreekanth Rao comes in: To keep tabs on the market trends and drive the growth of long-term strategic projects.

Trained in biomedical engineering at The Johns Hopkins University and with a Master in Strategy & Management of International Business (SMIB) qualification under her belt, Keerthana is arguably well-equipped to take on the challenge.

The alumna from the class of 2020 shares how she got to where she is today and ESSEC Asia-Pacific’s role in the journey.

What made you choose the ESSEC Master in Strategy & Management of International Business program at the ESSEC Asia-Pacific campus?

I used to work in a patient-facing role, and while I enjoyed the research role, I was looking to move into business roles within the healthcare industry.

I liked the breadth of courses offered in the SMIB program and felt it was an excellent introduction to the business world without too much emphasis on any one sector.

This worked because I hadn’t defined the type of role or company I wanted to be in, and I was at an exploratory stage of my career journey.

Coming to Asia-Pacific made sense because it was close to home, and I felt the region’s diversity offered many opportunities for healthcare professionals.

We understand you worked in a venture capital fund before joining Philips. How did your time at ESSEC contribute to you securing these jobs?

Right out of ESSEC, I worked as an investment associate looking after the company’s healthcare portfolio.

The Asian Strategy Challenge (ACM—a six-month consulting project that is one of the highlights of the SMIB Asia-Pacific curriculum) was, in a way, a segway for me to end up there.

I got an insider view of working in a start-up, and I liked how they operate—that they are agile, fast-paced, and decisions happen quickly.

I also had a private equity class at ESSEC, and just sitting through the lessons gave me a bird’s eye view of what investors looked for.

Having knowledge of that allowed me to leverage my previous healthcare network to get into a venture capital firm.

After joining, I realized I missed being the one directly driving the growth of a business, so when the opportunity at Philips opened up, I jumped at it.

Interestingly, I was part of the ESSEC Life Sciences Club, and we did a consulting project with the Philips healthcare informatics business I’m part of now.

I believe the fact that I understood more about the healthcare informatics team and how they work, operate, and solve issues contributed to my getting the job.

What does the future look like for you?

I’ve always known I want to work in roles that have large-scale impact. ESSEC helped me define that dream better, and being at Philips continues to do the same.

Philip’s vision is to impact 2.5 billion lives from a healthcare point of view, and I really connect with this.

In the next five years, I hope to be somewhere within Philips but in a broader role. I’d love to be involved in more end-to-end solutions selling to healthcare systems.

Could you elaborate further on how ESSEC helped you define your dreams?

Career services helped me determine the kinds of roles I’d be interested in. I was also a Career Ambassador—basically the liaison between the SMIB cohort and the career services team.

I assisted with career fairs, career days, afternoon sessions with external speakers, giving talks, company visits, and more. It helped me gain exposure and an understanding of the Singapore ecosystem.

In addition, the diversity of the other students in my cohort and the kind of experiences they brought to the table greatly influenced how I wanted to design my career.

Any final words of wisdom for potential ESSEC SMIB students?

The diversity you get at ESSEC was a huge pull factor for me. Most of my classes were in engineering or pharmacy, and I wanted to transition to business.

I believe the SMIB program is perfect for folks like them and me. It gives you the breadth of knowledge and the correct exposure to different stakeholders within the Singapore ecosystem, which helps if you’re looking for roles in the country.