Flora Asuncion, EMBA Class of '09
Director, Patient First Support Services, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
Participating in the Saint Mary’s College Executive MBA program proved a life-changing experience for Flora Asuncion ’09, eventually leading her to a new career in the Middle East.
While Asuncion admits that the fast paced EMBA program at SMC – coupled with the pressures of a demanding job and a young family to raise – were stressful at times, it was the strong educational standards and the professors’ abilities to really push her hard that made the difference. “The program had definitely engaged me to think not just as an individual but as a member of a bigger international community. The professors are practicing professionals, which makes the EMBA program very relevant to the real world,” she says.
What really made the difference for Asuncion was the opportunity to go on a trip to Barcelona with the international cohort in 2008, a trip that she says “opened my eyes to the global prospect of living and working at an international level. Since that trip I knew my next job had to be an international position, which is where I am today.”
Soon after Flora received her MBA, she was recruited by the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. “The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a subsidiary of Mubadala Healthcare, and together these two highly respected organizations plan to establish world-class healthcare and replicate the clinical quality and service standards the Cleveland Clinic USA is known for with the aim of serving the people of the UAE and other outlying gulf countries in the region,” she says.
At the Cleveland Clinic, Flora served as the director for patient access, a position in which she was tasked with building the patient access department in time for the opening of Cleveland Clinic’s first international hospital in the Middle East in 2013.
After 15 months in Abu Dhabi, she relocated to nearby Qatar and accepted a position as assistant managing director for operations, clinical affairs and workforce for the Primary Health Corp./Supreme Council of Health, which operates the state of Qatar’s primary health care system.
Although she's too far away to do so now, when at Kaiser, Asuncion was dedicated to hiring other Saint Mary's alumni, both to remain relevant by working with the next generation and as a way of giving back.
“As leaders, I believe we have an obligation to help foster, mentor and serve the younger and upcoming generation of leaders. In my early career stages, I had the privilege of having been mentored by some of the great leaders in organizations like Kaiser Permanente. So, sharing my knowledge is my way of giving back to the industry I am passionate about and the educational institution that helped shape me,” she says.
"The graduates of Saint Mary's College are well-rounded and have a solid foundation to be able to compete."