Michael Iskandaryan

MPA-Health - 2013

Health Policy and Management – Financial Management Specialization

What made you decide to come to Wagner?

I devoted a lot of time to researching various MHA, MPA, MBA and other programs focused on healthcare management. I planned on a leaving a good paying job and moving out-of-state to attend one of these potential programs so I wanted to make sure I find the program that is right for me. I first narrowed my search by looking at only CAHME accredited programs. The schools I finally decided to apply to all had great reputations but Wagner stood out with some very distinct differences. Wagner allowed for the greatest number of electives and provided the most course offering overall, allowing me to specialize in health finance. In contrast to the others program I considered, which enrolled a cohort of 20-30 students each year, I was excited about the opportunity to take some classes with students from other disciplines such as Urban Planning and Public-Nonprofit Management. Perspectives of professional working part-time students also added to the richness of classroom discussions as I expected.

Have you had any internships while at Wagner?

During one of the Wagner Office of Career Services sponsored student/alumni events, I met with a Wagner alumni who spent several years in healthcare consulting. She sent my resume to a recruiter at PricwaterhouseCoopersand I ended up interning with the Health Industries Advisory practice at PwC the following summer. I worked with a team of consultant from NYC, Boston, and Chicago to assist a client through a major revenue cycle IT implementation project. My previous experience in health IT allowed me to provide value to the project while learning a great deal about consulting. Most importantly the internship allowed me to greatly expand my professional network with individuals from within and outside of the NYC area. It was truly a great experience and PwC hosted many great relationship buildingevents such a week long trip to Disney to help us make more lasting relationships with our colleagues while also having fun.

Are you currently employed?

I currently work at Child Mind Institute (CMI), a child and adolescent mental health organization in Manhattan focused on helping children with various psychiatric and learning disorders. I work mainly with the Chief Operating Officer (a Wagner alum) on a wide range of strategic and operations projects. CMI is growing quickly and started up less then 2 years ago. Working at a start up requires for everyone to pitch in with various projects, sometimes outside of ones area of expertise. I joined CMI as a part time employee only about a month ago and I am already involved in and leading several important projects.

How have you been able to balance work and school?

In considering any potential positions, I knew that as a graduate student my schoolwork was my priority. I left my professional full time job in Atlanta to pursue graduate studies at Wagner and made sure that any position I considered while in school would be flexible. In setting the right expectations upfront, I know that if I need to switch around my hours during midterms or finals, my employer is usually understanding of this and it should come as no surprise. I have also quickly learned that it is imperative for me to pay attention to my needs outside of class in order to be successful and not get burned out. I make sure to make time for my friends, attend events, and allow myself some time for enjoyment outside the work and classroom settings.

What organizations are you involved with at Wagner?

I serve as the Finance Events Chair on the Wagner Health Network (WHN). I am currently working with my team to host an event on careers in domestic and global health featuring individuals in hospital administration, public heath, and consulting. I hope to plan another event in the Spring that will help current students network professional in the field.

What has been your favorite class at Wagner?

My favorite class at Wagner is probably “Current Issues in Health Policy” with Professor John Billings. Prof Billings has done some incredible work in the area of health policy specifically looking at vulnerable populations and access to care.His course opened my eyes to a lot of staggering statistics about the true state of healthcare in the U.S. The information presented was even more interesting because Professor Billings is very familiar with the information he discusses in his course as has usually had some part in the original research. The course took my focus form a more micro thinking of healthcare at the hospital level and helped me to think about healthcare issues and potential solutions at a more macro level.

What impact has your Wagner education had on your career path to date?

The Wagner community has had a major impact on my career path. I was tapped for my current job as an Administrative Resident because my health management professor, Dr. Tony Kovner, recommended me when he heard the COO at CMI needed some extra help. This position that has allowed me to work various business development projects that I have never had an opportunity to work on before.

My summer internship was also secured through a Wagner alumni referral. This was my first time working with a major consulting firm. The internship eventually led to a full time post graduation offer with PwC.

Finally, I am working with my Capstone team to help a major medical center with a management model evaluation, my first time working on an operations based consulting project of this kind.

In summary, when I came to Wagner I had prior experience in health IT, halfway through, I am now confident that I can take on projects and explore professional opportunities that I was not ready to take on before my time at Wagner.

What are your future career goals?

As I planned at the start of my time at Wagner, I will be going into healthcare consulting after I graduate next May. I am excited to join the fast paced field of consulting upon graduation. Five to ten years out I will certainly revaluate my career to determine if I can offer an organization more value by working in industry on the provider side. I have often dreamed of becoming a hospital CEO but have since readjusted my focus on the contribution I want to make rather then a position I want to hold.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

When moving to New York to start school, I initially moved to Midtown Manhattan.After my first year at Wagner I had enough of the craziness that Times Square had to offer and was no longer excited about pushing through hundreds of tourists as I walk to the subway to get to school and work each day. I now live in the East Village spend most of my time in downtown Manhattan. I try to reserve a one-hour de-stress time each day to workout at the NYU Palladium gym or go for a run around Washington Square.

On the weekends, you never run out of new restaurants and bars to try out in the NYC. My favorite part about NYC are the people that live here. I love going out and meeting new and diverse individuals that NYC if full of. I believe that I have learned more about myself and others from the people I met here more then anywhere else.

Do you have any thoughts/advice for prospective students interested in coming to Wagner?

Although Wagner has some amazing things to offer students, prospective students should invest in the time to truly learn about the Wagner community to see if it is the kind of environment they will thrive in. Coming to a school like NYU, you have to appreciate and embrace diversity. I believe this is especially true at NYU Wagner. This program is not a cohort of 20-30 students that are all specifically interested in hospital management. The program here is built around a community of students and professionals from a wide range of backgrounds with wide range of passions. Wagner provides a lot of resources for prospective students to learn more about the community and reach out to current students. Reaching out to current students and alumni through the Wagner admissions office or networking websites such as LinkedIn is a great way to learn about the program on a more intimate level.