As a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon, Director of Women’s Cardiac Services at Saint John’s Medical Center, mother of two boys, wife of a liver transplant surgeon, philanthropist, author and businesswoman, 2006 graduate of UCLA Anderson’s executive MBA program Kathy E. Magliato is a skilled multitasker.
“Having five plates spinning in the air at once is something Anderson teaches you,” Magliato says. “The expectation at Anderson is that you will be able to maintain your personal and professional life while still being able to commit to the workload of the executive program. With this expectation, however, comes the full support of the UCLA faculty and your fellow classmates to ensure everyone’s success within the MBA program.”
Smart Business spoke with Magliato about how to fit an MBA into your busy life without sacrificing career or family, and how the experience will change you.
How did an executive MBA enable you to achieve your goals?
When people ask me that question, my answer is simple. The best way I could describe Anderson’s executive MBA program is that it was a springboard for my mind. I don’t mean that as a cliché; I mean that very honestly.
As a physician coming into the program with very little business experience, it broadened my horizons within the business community, but it also caused me to think a different way. I think differently; I approach problem-solving differently having the skill set I achieved with my MBA.
I remember floundering in one of my business classes when the dean took me aside and said, ‘Kathy, you don’t see this now, but you will leave here having learned and absorbed more than anyone else because you came here with the least amount of business knowledge.’
In general, whatever level of business experience you have when arriving at business school, you will definitely be at a much higher level when you leave. I came in at the ground level, but people coming in at the fourth floor will leave at the 10th floor.
How would you describe your executive MBA experience?
The Anderson community is a world-class institution. I sat across from some of the brightest minds to which I have ever been exposed. The people chosen through the admissions process are all at the top of their game. I learned as much from my fellow students as I did from the extraordinary professors. By using the Socratic method in class — which was completely different for me, as I was used to rote memorization in medical school — I was able to learn not just from the professor, but also from the students sitting next to me.
The professors were bright, insightful, unbelievable communicators. They have a passion that made you want to learn about what they were discussing. It was important to me to understand what they were talking about.
The curriculum was a balanced yet diversified portfolio of subject material. Since 2006, when I completed my executive MBA, the program has continued to grow and has become much more diverse and more multifaceted. As an example, the international business program focused either on China or France when I was at Anderson. Now, the sky is the limit in terms of international business exposure. That program has really blossomed. It’s a testament to Anderson’s continuous commitment to further develop and broaden the curriculum.
Why was this particular program a good choice for you?
I thrive on challenge and Anderson’s executive MBA program sets the bar very high. They drive you to be your best, but in a way that is completely supportive. There is this feeling it creates, a feeling which says ‘I am going to come into class and do my best today, and if I can’t get there, then help is available to get to that level.’
From the aspect of being a woman — it’s a gender-neutral program. I come from a very male-dominated profession, and I found it quite refreshing to be in a classroom setting where gender was not an issue. The women in the class thrive as much as the men.
Also, many women considering an executive MBA wonder ‘How can I fit this into my plans to have a family?’ Anderson was incredibly accommodating and supportive when I chose to have a child during the second year of school, which was unique.
How have you benefited from the UCLA Anderson alumni network?
The alumni network is very powerful and far-reaching. I would feel comfortable calling any alumni from Anderson and discussing business ventures with them. Personally, the alumni network has helped Michael Whitt, PhD, a fellow ’06 alum, and I develop a business centered around a medical device patent we put together at Anderson as part of a project for an entrepreneurial studies class.
What lessons learned in your executive MBA program have you been able to implement in your career?
One of the major lessons I took away from Anderson was the importance of branding. Each of us as individuals has a brand. You need to figure out what your brand is, and determine how to use that brand to its fullest.
It really took an MBA to figure out what my brand should be and how to best leverage it. After leaving Anderson, I wrote a book, ‘Heart Matters,’ which became a platform for me to leverage myself as a nationally recognized authority in heart disease in women. So now, no matter what I am doing — being a mom, running our medical device company, Cordex Systems LLC, raising money for venture capital and other startups, being a full-time heart surgeon or doing media events — I’m also constantly developing myself as a brand and aligning myself with that brand. That’s a life-long lesson I learned from Anderson.
KATHY E. MAGLIATO, M.D., MBA, FACS, is Director of Women’s Cardiac Services at Saint John’s Medical Center and President of the Greater Los Angeles County American Heart Association Board of Directors. Her book, “Heart Matters: A Memoir of a Female Heart Surgeon,” is currently available in paperback. Her website is www.kathymagliato.com.