Alumni Spotlight: Varghese Abraham, GMBA 2015

Caitlin Magidson

Caitlin works with students and alumni in Washington DC as a transformational Career Coach. She provides guidance around self-exploration, job search strategy, and networking through individualized coaching and professional development courses.

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Varghese Abraham (Abe) earned his BS in Biology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and his MD degree from St. Christopher IMD College of Medicine. Abe completed his basic sciences in Luton, England and his clinical rotations in Chicago at various hospitals including Cook County Hospital. After graduation, seeking to build upon his interest in clinical research, he joined the department of Pulmonology/Endocrinology at University of Chicago Hospital. He accepted a Post Doctoral Clinical Research Fellowship position in Endocrinology and Sleep Medicine at University of Chicago focusing on research investigating Sleep Apnea treatment and Type II Diabetes. In an effort to compliment his medical background with a strong foundation in business, Abe enrolled full time and successfully graduated from Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.

During his studies in business school, Abe spent time working in emerging health care markets in both Ecuador and India, and in his free time, he served as part of an advisory board for a cloud-based startup focused on stroke rehabilitation.

In Ecuador, he spent time consulting for a private hospital adjusting to Ecuador’s newly introduced universal health care system. In India, he spent time developing pre-hospital care and serving as an American Heart Association Basic Life Support and Advanced Care Life Support instructor. Abe also completed his MBA internship at Bristol-Myers Squibb working in their R&D Strategy and Business Operations team.

Abe currently works as Medical Director and serves as a US Medical Team Lead in the Immunology and Ophthalmology unit at Genentech US Medical Affairs. In his role, Abe leads medical strategy for Actemra in Rheumatoid Arthritis and Giant Cell Arteritis. In the past, he’s served as the US representative for the Global Actemra Medical Team, led Gazyva for Immunology indications (including transplant and Lupus Nephritis), and supported Rituxan. In addition to focusing on strategic medical planning, he’s been heavily involved in initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion within Medical Affairs at Genentech.

What is the best part of your job, and what is most challenging?

The best part of my job is being able to lead teams at the intersection between business and health care. My day to day involves challenging my teams to consider  better ways to deliver ground-breaking therapies to reach patients of high unmet need. Time in medicine teaches you to have the right answer when given clues to a problem, and my time at the Carey Business School taught me to ask the right questions to get to the most accurate answer with the largest impact.

What outlets/resources do you turn-to to stay up-to date in your field?

I tend to review scientific journals like the New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA to keep up to date with new therapies. I continue the habit of reading up on Harvard Business Review to stay fresh with new approaches in business. I try to read about innovations in other industries – it helps to jumpstart new ideas within my own.

What advice would you give new graduates entering the workforce?

My advice to new graduates would be to keep the rigor of your approach in business school when it comes to networking. Once you land that dream job, don’t forget to keep your networking skills sharp by meeting new people within your new organization. And once you make it to that dream job, “don’t forget to send the elevator back down:” remember to reach back out to your classmates still looking for jobs and new students who come to Hopkins annually. After all, you were once in their shoes hoping to learn as much as possible about industry life.

What do you wish you knew when you started B-school?

I wish I knew how important networking really was. Grades matter very little in the grand scheme of industry and networking becomes paramount to success in business school and beyond. GO TO DIVERSITY CONFERENCES!

What class was most impactful at Carey and how has that helped you in your career today?

Health Care Financing with Dean Frick and Marketing Strategy were the most impactful classes I took at Carey. Health Care Financing explains the foundational concepts requisite to understand for those of you interested in careers in the health care industry. Equally important in wherever your career takes you is marketing your products and your own brand. Marketing strategy helped me think about both of those things. EVERY class at Carey taught me the importance of having a core team I could rely on (my ‘Always Be Closing’ core team) and the importance of collaborating with everyone in our class.

What three words would you use to define your time at Carey?

Grit. Grind. Perseverance.

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