2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Daniel Bu, University of Oxford (Saïd)

“Focused and adventurous future surgeon working to enable and grow surgical innovation in emerging markets.”

Hometown: Surrey, British Columbia.

Fun fact about yourself: I’m a stand-in musician for several bands that play in the smaller bars in town.

Undergraduate school and degree: University of Pennsylvania (Neurobiology, BA ’16:); Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (MD/MSc in Clinical Research (Statistics), Candidate); University of Oxford (Master of Public Policy, ’21).

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? US National Institutes of Health – Sinai Health Policy Lab; Researcher (data science).

Where did you do your internship during the summer of 2021? SEREN Tanzania/SEREN Oxford, a social enterprise that focuses on providing and scaling up cancer diagnostics in East Africa. Location: Oxford/Tanzania.

Where will you work after you graduate? I will be working for Infinitopes, a peri-surgical adjuvant cancer vaccine startup for a year before returning to medical school and beginning my surgical training.

Community work and leadership roles in a business school:

Community and leadership roles:

MBA Venture Consultant: Oxford Creative Destruction Lab.

Co-founding member: start@ox, .

Chair: Health Policy and Financing Group @ Said Business School and Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford.

President, Prev: Vice-president: American Medical Association – MSS Committee on Economics and Quality in Medicine.

Policy Analyst: AI-REAL, Global Health Program on East African Lymphoma Linked to Aggressive Infections.


Oxford – Pershing Square Scholarship.

TEDMED Research Fellowship.

Distinction in Master of Public Policy (as part of the MBA 1+1).

What academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of while in business school? I’m quite proud to have been a co-founding member of start@ox, a student-led initiative that has partnered with entrepreneurs and venture capital funds to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in business school, medical school and the university at large. Through our efforts, I think we’ve really helped grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Oxford. We collected teeming ideas, with different people helping with the ideation, letting it out of the room, building it, then bringing it back before applying for funding. Helping to drive innovation in a nine-hundred-year-old location was an experience like no other.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The opportunity to work and publish research that tangibly informed public policy governing the business of health innovation was an important opportunity for me. It was a chance to pull the broader levers of health economics, ultimately setting the conditions for entrepreneurship and strengthening the doctor-patient relationship at scale. For example, I helped advance robot-assisted surgery in rural Uganda and developed policy for the adoption of next-generation cancer diagnostics in Southeast Asia.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Saïd Business School for its unique 1+1 MBA which combined the breadth of a business degree with the depth of a specialized master’s degree. One of the unexpected benefits of this program was the community it fostered among those interested not just in business, but in fields as diverse as water policy and management, African studies, public policies or educational theories. It brought together all these diverse professionals, giving them a theoretical basis. Then, year two brought us together to learn how to execute and implement based on our passion and interests. It is this community and the history of the institution that made me choose this business school.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Michael Gill was a particularly memorable professor of organizational behavior who brought many theories of motivation and congruence to life. His transitions between academic theory, practical application and personal experience were smooth and light. It made it easier to understand the big picture while zooming in on the important micro-interactions that populate all of our working relationships.

What has been your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event so far was the big Diwali party hosted by the business school and India’s OBN (a club or network of sorts). Much of the class attended dinner at school, thanks to the fantastic trade school kitchen team, then went to the pub to dance and celebrate. That night brought to mind many Diwali traditions from my hometown in Canada, as well as the sense of community and celebration that would light up the week.

Looking back on your MBA experience, what is one thing you would do differently and why? The MBA offers so many opportunities that come to you so fast. It’s easy to only become aware of something when it’s already in the rearview mirror. I think if I had to do anything differently, I would have mapped out some of the less related but more exciting events that piqued my curiosity – and engaged more deeply with the world-renowned scholars (professors and PhD students) of the company school that led research on impact investing, development economics, and theories of professional services firms in policy making.

What surprised you the most about business school? The breadth of study at the business school really surprised me. As someone with generally non-business background, immersing yourself in something as diverse as development economics one day – and then corporate culture the next – was an intense and enjoyable experience. That and the quality of thought both surprised me about SBS.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an advantage at your chosen school? My personal process involved diving deep into my field of work and study before coming to SBS. I was and remain very passionate about surgical innovation in the context of developing economies. I think having such a clear benchmark made it easier to align all the different application pieces for a program like the 1+1 MBA (matching the MPP with the MBA). Having this tangible goal also helped maintain the level of motivation when balancing work, studies and applying.

Which MBA classmate do you admire the most? One of the MBA fellows I always consulted over the past two years was fellow MBA 1+1, Shaan Pattni, who paired a degree in African Studies with his business studies. He is an example of someone who works incredibly hard, but behind the scenes and uncomplainingly, delivers great work products, balances the big picture with focused goals, and brings everyone around him with him. as he seeks to reinvent the infrastructure and the system. change on the African continent. I have personally seen him take over when other team members were struggling and help move the project forward while supporting and highlighting the efforts of others.

Who most influenced your decision to do business in college? One of my influential professors in college was Zeke Emanuel, who was instrumental in conceptualizing and designing the Affordable Care Act for the Obama administration. His focus at Penn was a reflection of his professional career, which straddled clinical medicine, politics, bioethics, and systems design. His classes and his way of approaching problems definitely made me think about how best to complement my medical training in other fields, which eventually led me to the public policy and MBA studies that I am currently pursuing. .

What are the top two items on your professional to-do list?

(1) Become a surgeon who will help patients, in disadvantaged settings, access surgical care both in the operating room and in the workplace.

(2) Take a patient-centric surgical technology company public.

How has the pandemic changed your outlook on a career? The pandemic gave me the space to think more about the bigger picture of what I wanted to do. In healthcare, I think you could call this a “paradigm” shift event, where many of the leaps that were only discussed before are now being implemented. This, in turn, motivated me to take the leap and take risks to tackle the biggest, but sometimes seemingly toughest challenges of my own professional life.

What made Daniel such a valuable addition to the Class of 2022?

“As the faculty leader of the MBA 1+1 program, I have found Daniel Bu to be a very engaging leader and a popular member of the 2022 cohort. He brings positive energy to the group and his diverse work experiences in innovation in health, surgery and management allow it to stand out and enrich the experience of the cohort.

Abrar Chaudhury
Pedagogical advisor on the Oxford 1+1 MBA program
Said Business School

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