EMBA Students Pursue Diverse Independent Study Projects

David Paller '14 and Adam Wollowick '14 collaborated on an independent study project last fall that plunged them into the world of corporate mergers and acquisitions—and could one day bring new medical devices to the marketplace.

David Paller '14 and Adam Wollowick '14
David Paller '14 and Adam Wollowick '14

Paller and Wollowick, students in the MBA for Executives program, explored venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and the medical device industry during a research project with Medtronic, the world's largest medical device company. Their goal was to identify companies as prospective acquisitions for Medtronic's Spine and Biologics Division.

The opportunity came about when Stephen Oesterle, a senior vice president at Medtronic, spoke to the EMBA class last year. Afterwards, Wollowick approached him to discuss opportunities at the company. Osterle put Wollowick and Paller in touch with the interventional therapy team, and the students suggested a research project.

"We were given tremendous latitude to analyze firms in a variety of markets," says Wollowick, an orthopedic surgeon and professor at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "We took the process from inception to completion as if we were truly going to execute the deal."

Our project provided a real-life scenario in which we could apply all of the skills we learned in business school.

And a deal could be forthcoming. "The project may continue to evolve as Medtronic evaluates our research and suggestions," says Paller, who is director of clinical development at University Orthopedics in Providence, Rhode Island.

The project was part of the EMBA program's second-year independent study program. Under the program, EMBA students, already accomplished midcareer professionals, take on an independent project or field study that lets them examine business practices and issues facing their fields. Students may also take an elective course at one of Yale's other graduate or professional schools that's relevant to their profession.

"Our project provided a real-life scenario in which we could apply all of the skills we learned in business school," Wollowick says. Paller adds that during the research they met with entrepreneurs, venture capital executives, and M&A executives at medical device firms. "Our Yale SOM network facilitated the process immensely and extended our learning way beyond the classroom," he says.

The students' classmate Frank Roschangar '14 opted to write a paper about green chemistry in the pharmaceutical industry for his independent project. Green chemistry seeks to incorporate environmental practices, such as industrial waste reduction and sustainable raw material selection, into pharma, says Roschangar, who is director of global external chemistry management at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals.

"While strides have been made to incorporate green chemistry philosophies over the past 20 years, significant barriers remain," Roschangar says. "Many consider green chemistry a core component of the future of pharmaceutical science, and so I asked what we can do to overcome these barriers."

Roschangar asked David Bach, Yale SOM’s senior associate dean for executive MBA and global program, to oversee his research after taking Bach's Integrated Management Perspective course.

"I considered him the perfect choice to offer nonmarket insights," Roschangar says. The two are now preparing Roschangar's paper, which suggests new green chemistry goals and implementation methods, for submission to scientific journals.

Belinda Ker '14 enrolled in the course Law and Ethics in Markets at Yale Law School. An attending physician at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Ker says that if she transitions into a corporate healthcare role in the future, a legal framework would be a valuable asset.

"I learned a lot about the legal and ethical issues in trade and business, both domestically and internationally," Ker says. "The experience allowed me to expand my learning beyond my MBA. I was able to tap into the resources that the wider university has to offer. It's one of the reasons I chose Yale."