Christine Zone, PharmD, makes a thriving pharmacy management career brighter with her MBA
Feb 03, 2011
Growing up in Sanford, NC, Christine Zone, PharmD, always knew she would work in the medical field. Three uncles on her Dad’s side and one grandfather had worked as doctors, so she got to see, first hand, the excellent work good physicians did for others. Then as the middle child of three daughters, Dr. Zone also knew how to nurture. “I always respected the medical profession and hoped, therefore, I’d become a physician,” she says. Under the care of an excellent teacher and mentor, Dr. Zone thrived as she studied chemistry in high school and continued studying chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
After graduating with a BS in Pharmacy and pursuing pharmacy as her career path, Dr. Zone married, had three children, divorced, and continued raising her family as a single mother. Then, while still working full time as a pharmacist and clinical coordinator at Central Carolina Hospital, she returned to UNC to obtain her doctor of Pharmacy degree. Once graduating in 2003, she started working at Rex Healthcare. Dr. Zone loved her new role as Clinical Services Coordinator but, after fifteen years in clinical patient care, she wanted to understand management more deeply, particularly management in a technical setting and yearned for a management role. Dr. Zone knew that it was time to pursue her MBA. “The Jenkins MBA program at the Poole College of Management seemed to offer this technology focused management training and I liked this.”
Taking a Leap of Faith
Dr. Zone enrolled into the part-time Jenkins MBA program in 2008 with some trepidation. Rex Healthcare offered some tuition reimbursement and her parents helped pay some of the expenses, but even the remaining expense was a little worrying. Knowing that she already worked full-time at Rex Healthcare, she worried that she would not have time to be present for her three teenage children, continue thriving at work, and do well at school. Soon after classes began, she knew she’d done the right thing.
Her core class amounted to 40 students and Dr. Zone was instantly impressed by how diverse and interesting her classmates were. Her study group, with whom she worked for three years, included a software engineer at
The convenient location in the
The MBA Helps Bring Some Early Pay Offs
At work, the MBA was already helping her pursue her goals. In her first year studying, a new job opened at Rex Healthcare.It was a Pharmacy Operations Manager role. It was perfect—just what she had aspired to, with 40 direct reports, a rewarding position as part of a very talented leadership team and an interesting variety of work. Dr. Zone applied, hoping her enrollment in the Jenkins MBA program, with a concentration in services management and entrepreneurship, would demonstrate her devotion to a career in management. They offered her the job. “I was thrilled,” she says. “What a great and early trade off for my work.”
Dr. Zone also landed some rewarding consulting work through her MBA studies at NC State. Her professor of entrepreneurship, Dr. Ted Baker, asked all students to work with an established member of the Triangle’s business community and to develop a business strategy for growth on their behalf. Dr. Zone reached out to a successful business acquaintance and after leading the group project, she was later approached about consulting for the North Carolina Consortium for Medication Safety (NCCMedS). Dr. Zone is excited to begin this consulting role, working with rural hospitals in North Carolina to recommend to CEOs, physicians, and hospital staff safe practices for medication use. “If all goes well, the project will continue for many years” she says.
Building Skills which Last
Dr. Zone says that through her MBA, she also gathered essential skills which she now applies to her daily work. For instance, she feels competent writing strong business plans to pitch new services to the hospital’s leadership team. She feels professional and confident throughout any performance management process, specifically when providing feedback to employees, coaching and encouraging them. And best of all, she feels she adequately understands the culture of business, enough to be a contender in the business world. “To perform well in business, people need to know the terminology, the best way to prepare an argument and how to pitch that. The MBA gives you the confidence to present your ideas to the ‘C’ suite level in your company. You understand what is most important to them, and what they expect from you.”
Dr. Zone graduated with her MBA from the Poole College of Management in May 2010, with an outstanding GPA. She celebrated her coup by traveling to Argentina and Chile, with her classmates and Associate Dean Steve Allen, as part of the study abroad component to her MBA degree. “It was fabulous to tour global businesses and was enlightening,” she says, and as an extra bonus she met with her daughter in Chile, who was studying abroad at the time.
Her three teenage children were immensely proud, she says, and seemed surprised that their mother was smart enough to achieve two higher education degrees. The sense of accomplishment for Dr. Zone was “gratifying.” For now, Dr. Zone is happy to maintain her work life and family life just as it is, with nothing extra attached. But she admits that as a self-confessed “life- long learner,” she is now looking into some entrepreneurial ventures. “It’s time to take all this education and start giving it back by helping others.”