December 15, 2015Brown University

Bridging the Gap From Functional to GM-level Performance: Q&A with ICON VP and IE Brown Alum Mary Pan

Given your success in the healthcare sector, why did you decide to get an Executive MBA?
At the time, I was head of medical affairs for a major healthcare company, but I wanted a new career challenge - an executive position at a global company managing a large P&L. Though I was a top expert in my field of healthcare (biopharmaceutical and medical devices). I didn’t have a general management field of vision. I needed to break out of the narrow focus of my functional area and gain access to perspectives across my industry’s footprint. The IE Brown Executive MBA proved to be an excellent solution.

Why IE Brown?
Having completed my undergraduate degree at Brown in Economics, Psychology, and Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education, I knew the value of Brown’s unique capacity to encourage new ways of seeing based on rigorous integration of data mined from multiple cultural and disciplinary perspectives. I knew that this was the broad general management thinking that I needed to lead companies in a global and rapidly evolving world.

How did IE Brown actually help you make the leap to general management?
The diversity and quality of my cohort and faculty fueled the integrative thinking that I needed. We were all experts but from various fields which enabled us to unpack complex issues and see them from different angles. A great example of this dynamic occurred after graduation. I was a high-potential hire to head business and strategy for one of the largest companies in the world. The application required a grueling eight hour Korn Ferry workup involving intensive case work and simulations. Naturally I reached out to my former classmates. From across the globe, everyone joined me - without hesitation - on a conference call to share their advice. With their support, I sailed through the exercise and secured the job.

Where are you today?
Thanks to the IE Brown Executive MBA and my esteemed colleagues and faculty, I achieved my general management goals and now serve as the Vice President Head of Asia at ICON plc. Empowered by my IE network, I look forward to tackling many more business challenges to advance businesses and ideas around the world.

Find out about Mary Pan’s IE Brown journey in this IE Brown video.

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