Leah Elstrott, MBA '18, works as a partner success manager for Bright.md, a health innovation startup in Portland. Prior to the Oregon MBA, Leah was an economics major at Whitman College, then worked as the practice manager of a mental health clinic. She decided to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Oregon to expand her skillset, gain industry exposure, and grow her leadership abilities. During her time at UO, she interned at Kaiser Permanente Northwest as she worked to establish a career in healthcare.
Why did you choose the Oregon MBA?
I strongly believe in the power of business for good. The first thing that stood out about the Oregon MBA was alignment with this vision, specifically in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, where I quickly found a cohort passionate about changing the world through sound business practices.
The Oregon MBA hosts a relatively small cohort within a large university. The small cohort means you can have great relationships with professors and plentiful leadership opportunities, while the large university provides access to an incredible number of resources, most importantly, the UO alumni network.
How did the program prepare you for your current role?
A strength of the Oregon MBA curriculum is exposure to many subject areas including finance, negotiation, management, and marketing strategy. While I am certainly no expert in all of these areas, I have the ability to partake in high-level discussions about any one of them! Thanks to this program, I can jump from reviewing a marketing plan, to leading a strategy meeting, to consulting on a change management project without blinking an eye—all of these examples are a part of a regular workday at Bright.md. I am more comfortable in ambiguity now that I have the confidence, skills, and experience to contribute across an organization.
What experiences did you find most valuable at the University of Oregon?
The consulting engagements with Oregon businesses were the highlight of the MBA program, culminating in a nine-month Strategic Planning Project with a rural health clinic. I learned new skills in every project—how to forecast, how to design a marketing strategy, how to find insights from data, how to deliver a compelling presentation. I interacted with CEOs, VPs, and directors in each project, giving me a valuable lens into their work and teaching me how to add value at this level of a company.
Beyond some of the more tangible skills, I also grew as both team leader and a team member, intentionally switching between roles in various projects. Through this, I gained a clearer understanding of who I am and how to best leverage my strengths in the future.
Can you tell us how you landed at Bright.MD?
I am drawn to the healthcare industry because it represents such a large and growing proportion of our economy, yet lags behind most industries in terms of innovation and modernization. It is an industry full of opportunity and I believe that companies like Bright.md will “transform healthcare into what it can and should be," which is also a part of their mission statement.
Bright.md shares my personal vision and in my role, I am able to work with some of the largest health systems in the country who are ready to innovate. In spite of this readiness, change is hard. I love spending my days consulting with product owners, digital innovation groups, and healthcare providers working collaboratively towards the future of healthcare delivery. My work is challenging, varied, and unpredictable, but that is exactly the environment in which change agents like me thrive.
What advice would you give someone who is currently in the program? A prospective student?
My advice for a current Oregon MBA student is to be authentic. Authenticity means knowing your strengths, being proud of them and determined to grow them further. It means understanding your life priorities, and accepting that it's okay if you prioritize differently than the person sitting next to you. It means speaking candidly and openly with those you meet, especially during networking and job interviews. It means being vulnerable, and truly asking for feedback then reflecting and acting on that feedback. It means being consistent with your values and goals throughout all parts of your life. Authenticity is being true to yourself as you grow and change; it is not something you have but something to always work toward.
If you're looking for advice that actionable right now, start talking to people—in person—about your goals, interests, passions, questions, and future. I would love to talk with anyone reading this, please feel free to connect.