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Welcome to the Financial Times live web chat with Sharmila Makhija, who features in our Ten Questions Q&A.

Dr Makhija, EMBA graduate of Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and director of gynaecologic oncology at Emory’s School of Medicine, will answer your questions on Thursday 17th November, 2011 between 15.00-16.00 GMT.

Post your questions to ask@ft.com and they will be answered on the day on this page.


What made you decide to do your EMBA at Emory School of Business?

Sharmila: I decided on Emory for a number of reasons. Even though I am in the healthcare field, I wanted exposure to students and faculty from all walks of life. I chose a school that had a strong general management curriculum so that I would be able to address problems from various angles. The students in my class were outstanding and contributed greatly to my educational experience. Emory’s staff and faculty were also incredibly supportive and provided great mentoring for me.

You mention how male-dominated the field you work in is – why do you think that is?

Sharmila: I am a physician, specifically, my specialty is gynaecologic oncology. So although I take care of women with cancer, since it is a surgical subspecialty, it tends to attract more men than women. I am not sure why, perhaps it is because it tends to be more demanding, with a longer training period (seven years versus three years) and less flexible work hours. So as a result, some of my greatest mentors have been men… I have to say, I have been quite fortunate to have great leaders in the field, who have encouraged me and guided me throughout my career path. I was also quite fortunate to have incredibly supportive and forward thinking parents and siblings.

Has your EMBA changed the way you relate to patients, or only how you manage your team?

Sharmila: That is a great question! Before graduation, I applied many of the concepts that I learned. I definitely feel it has improved the way I manage my administrative team. I am able to carefully evaluate our budgets, improve communication with each division and between divisions - to help them work together better and address patient flow (operations) through our clinics. The result has been that patients can see that we are listening to their issues and both our patients and faculty are more satisfied. It is far from perfect but it takes time to improve and grow a practice. Now that I am the chairman of a department, I am applying the same concepts and I have learned from experience to listen better to not only patients but to our staff as well.

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