How I use my online MBA to help tackle global health issues |

How I use my online MBA to help tackle global health issues

By Laura L

Updated July 25, 2022 Updated July 25, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen over six million deaths globally, but huge numbers of people have refused immunisation due to doubts surrounding how the vaccines have been produced, evaluated and tested. It’s the most recent example of how important it is to build trust and acceptance when it comes to public health.  

Ajibola Omakanye, or Jib, is a trained clinician and researcher specialising in vaccines and immunology, and an online MBA student at UCL School of Management.  

As Scientific Officer of Epidemic-Prone Diseases at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Jib has been heavily involved in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, translating a wealth of knowledge and data into evidence that is easily understood for policymakers and the public.  

Studying his online MBA during the pandemic, Jib was able to apply his long-term experience in epidemic-prone diseases and his new business management expertise to a huge global problem in real time. The blending of scientific and business knowledge is helping Jib to take his experience out of the lab and into a creative start-up that aims to make scientific research more trusted by and accessible to the public. 

Unleashing potential in the sector 

In any area of public health, engagement is hugely important. Jib said: “When it comes to introducing a new drug or vaccine, public engagement is what helps people to understand the technology, the reason for the treatment and its impact. All of that improves acceptance and builds trust.  

“Infectious diseases are a constant risk to human health, but scientists and researchers aren’t necessarily trained with the business knowledge to pitch their work to investors or to translate their ideas into tangible innovations that are more likely to reach the public eye.” 

“If we can channel the right resources to them though, there are opportunities to address those risks and bring the public on board. So, I felt that an MBA would provide me with the formal management training to bring more potential into the vaccine and immunology field.” 

Jib’s current venture is a platform that will harness the power of information to allow people to critically assess sources of news and research, as a response to the increasing ‘infodemic’ of misinformation and fake news.    

“It will take a data driven approach to consider how we can make better tools to help people access valuable and trustworthy information and ensure people are less at risk of having misinformation influence key decisions in their lives,” Jib said.  

Studying the response to a global pandemic in real time 

Tackling COVID-19 has been a major part of Jib’s role as Scientific Officer at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. His work has involved translating a wealth of knowledge and data into evidence that is easily understood and ready to influence policy.  

As a chair of the variance working group within the ECDC, Jib and his colleagues discuss the evidence and signals related to new and emerging coronavirus variants, analysing the relevance and importance of the data to trigger changes in public health action. That could mean introducing new health measures or triggering alerts around new risks.  

As an MBA student during the pandemic, Jib had one of the biggest live case studies available, helping him to consider global responses to one of the world’s most pressing issues in real time.  

Working in public health while studying business administration meant he was able to look at COVID-19 through both lenses.  

“A lot of big global changes have happened in the time I’ve been studying my MBA. We’ve endured a pandemic. We’re having some severe economic downturns. There’s further conflict in the likes of Ukraine and so seeing how people working across different industries respond to the same societal and economic pressures is a really interesting element to my learning.” 

Flexibility to pause in the face of crisis 

With so many global challenges requiring Jib’s skills and experience, the flexibility of the UCL MBA has meant that he can radically change his pace of learning when his attention is required in the midst of a crisis.  

“Being able to study a module and then pause the programme as I took on new opportunities has been really important for me. Even now, I’ve put myself forward to be deployed to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries where displaced individuals may need support at any time. 

“Not being able to do that would be a barrier to my progression on the course, but the flexibility of my course means there is never a bad time to study an online MBA, because I’ve been able to manage both.” 

Seeing the bigger picture 

As a researcher working in academia, Jib is used to focusing on specific projects and deadlines, but his MBA gave him the tools to think beyond his own work and into the strategic aims of his company and how that can impact on his creative start-ups.  

“I think more in terms of the mission and vision of an organisation now and considering longer term objectives to drive the decisions we make. I think about work force and addressing risks and opportunities. I see myself as someone who can now steer the ship. 

“I’m more in tune with ensuring everyone has a voice within the company and bringing real diversity to the decision-making process. On the MBA, I worked with a very diverse cohort who had very different experiences and ways of thinking that related not just to their industry but to the cultures and environments they work in.  

That diversity was one of the biggest highlights of the MBA for Jib, who found he was exposed to an array of experiences from people who aren’t clinicians and researchers or based in the healthcare field like him.  

“Being able to bounce ideas between a broad student body with people doing things as far afield as you can get from public health and infectious diseases has been so valuable. It helped to keep everyone’s ideas fresh and provide a global context to everyone’s work,” Jib said. 

“What you get from the MBA is the responsibility of being the person to bring voices together to achieve something great, and an understanding of how to utilise that diversity as a key asset in driving a project forward.”  

An evolving global challenge 

“The emergence of infectious diseases will be a constant as human life evolves and so the role that outbreaks and pandemics play will only increase given the pressure the human population places on resources. It will only make infectious outbreaks more likely, which means the more business knowledge we can put into the understanding and acceptance of public health initiatives, the better,” Jib added. 


This article was originally published in July 2022 .

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As Senior Content Editor for and, Laura publishes articles for our student audience around the world, working with ambassadors and alumni to provide helpful content to those looking for study options. Laura has six years' experience in Higher Education marketing and writing for a student audience. 

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