Interview with a KI Alumni-II

Hello every one!

With a main intention of giving some insight about KI alumni to prospective and current students, Nargis Rahimi was presented in my last blog. I am back with another alumni of HEPM (Niki Burns Ahl) as per my promise. I hope you will enjoy reading her responses as much as I did.

What influenced you to choose KI when you decided to further your education?

The number one factor that influenced my final decision to choose KI was Hans Rosling and his motivational talks. After watching a few of his videos online, I was inspired and convinced a Public Health program at KI was for me, and that was the final motivation necessary for me to put everything together and apply.

Niki Burns Ahl
Niki Burns Ahl

Pragmatically, I knew I would be immigrating to Sweden as my new husband is Swedish. I was leaving behind a career in the USA, however I saw this as the perfect opportunity to fulfill thee goals (1) earn a Master degree in Public Health, which I had been wanting to do, (2) make a career shift from what I was previously doing, and (3) provide me the opportunity to build my professional network in Sweden.

In which year did you graduate from the HEPM program at KI?

2013 “The first batch”

What were your likes and dislikes (if any) related to your education at KI?

The people! I love the group I studied with. We really had a lot of synergy together and everyone was very supportive to each other. I believe it was a very special group dynamic we shared. I also enjoyed learning from the professors, instructors, guest speakers and the leaders we met while doing group assignments outside of the classroom.

How satisfied were you with your education at KI?

I’m very satisfied. In retrospect you can always think of things that you would have liked to be different, however those are very few for me. I think it was a well-rounded education. Personally, I enjoyed the health economics and policy aspects most and I wish I had more time to dive deeper into those topics, however I understand the importance of the management component and I can appreciate how all of the concentrations relate to one-another.

Are you working currently? If yes, where are you working? In what kind of role and responsibilities?

I am currently working at Gilead Sciences as a Market Access Manger. I love what I do and I am so glad I made this shift in my career.

After leaving your program at KI, how long did it take for you to obtain your first job or work experience?

Actually, I was hired in a similar role at a different pharmaceutical company the summer in between the 1st and 2nd year of the program. I ended up taking the job, but letting the employer know that finishing my program at KI was of top priority. I would not recommend this, unless it is an “internship role”. I did not stay at the company and prioritized finishing the program at KI. For me it was very important that I take the time to build the foundation and knowledge at a theoretical and fundamental level and I was not going to forgo this personal life goal. Also, knowing and understanding the Swedish job market* in which I was looking demands the knowledge gained in this education and that wasn’t going to be changing in the foreseen future.

Compared to other people that I have met who have completed a master degree in Sweden, depending on the concentration, some mention that very little time is needed in the classroom. As for this degree, I would say that it is almost mandatory to be there 100%. If you are missing class time, not only are you cheating yourself but your fellow classmates. There is a lot to be learned by cross-dialogue in the classroom and I think all students have a responsibility to be present and active participants for one another.

*It should be noted that it is not just the Swedish job market where this education is in high demand; I would say there are many others as well. It depends on the individual, where you want to live and what fields your interested in.

Are you working/ have you worked in a responsibility related to your training at KI? If yes, how do you explain the practical importance of your education at KI to this job? Do you have any examples?

Yes, for me in Market Access at a pharmaceutical company it is very important to have a deep understanding of health policy and health economics. Regarding health policy, the program helped set a strong foundation to understand the context of the Swedish environment and in other settings. The level of influence and competing needs of the different stakeholders involved in the process. I found the arranged visits and group projects at TLV and guest speakers from SBU and other agencies to be very valuable.

Finally, the health economics component of the program is of critical importance and provides a starting foundation for a career in Market Access in Sweden, at a pharmaceutical company, HEOR consultancy or at one of the governmental authorities.

If you could start over again, would you attend KI? And would you recommend KI to others?

Yes, absolutely! I enjoyed my time at KI and would highly recommend the school and the Public Health: Economics, Policy and Management program.

Is there anything you want to say?

Thank you for the opportunity. Good luck with writing your blog!

I would like to express my hearfelt gratitude to Niki Burns Ahl for her goodwill to take her time to share her experience.

See you in another blog!


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