Innovation Pathways: Wharton Grad Emily Pell on Launching an Innovation-Focused Career

To help illustrate where the pursuit of innovation management can lead, we’re pleased to introduce our new Innovation Pathways series, where we ask our current students, recent graduates, and established alumni to describe their journeys.

This post features recent Wharton grad Emily Pell (WG’16). Read more Innovation Pathways posts here.

Emily Pell
Emily Pell

What kind of opportunities to innovate do you find in your current role?

As a senior manager in [Mack Institute corporate partner] Ansell’s Leadership Development Rotation program, there are numerous opportunities available to build and develop innovative solutions for the firm’s current business needs. The Leadership Development Rotation program is comprised of three challenging rotational assignments in three different disciplines and in three different Ansell locations around the globe, with each rotation lasting eight months. This program not only develops invaluable global leadership skills, but also promotes a “choose your own adventure” type of approach for participants to ensure an autonomous and unique learning experience.

My first rotation with Ansell will be launching a new double gloving system along with new ergonomic surgical gloves in the North America market. The double gloving system eliminates the conventional practice of opening two packages of gloves before an operating room procedure since both pairs of gloves are already prepackaged and joined together for seamless donning. In this context, innovation happens within the scope of the customer, by understanding their needs and finding creative ways to solve their problems.

With innovation comes ownership, and I am empowered to act in my role to get results and find inventive solutions for our customers. Future assignments with Ansell may include traveling to Malaysia to work with manufacturing in order to implement innovative technologies to optimize supply chain reliability, pivoting a marketing campaign to appeal to a valuable untapped market, or working with R&D to integrate customer feedback into the design of new products.

What are the steps you took at Wharton/Penn that best prepared you for managing innovation in your role? What classes did you take, and what opportunities did you pursue?

At Penn, I sought out innovative coursework in collaborative, interdisciplinary environments that challenged our current health care delivery concepts and models. I pursued electives outside of my nursing studies, specifically at the Wharton School, and enrolled in Health Care Entrepreneurship and the Mack Institute’s Collaborative Innovation Program (CIP). By pursuing coursework outside of my traditional plan of study, I was able to expand my perspective, strengthen my ability to lead innovative initiatives, and challenge my preconceived notions of how a health care system should deliver patient care.

For example, through the course Health Care Entrepreneurship, our team developed a startup called LifeCycle that utilized “ambucycles” (motorcycles with emergency medical support equipment) to expedite emergency response times and improve the efficacy of emergency medical services (EMS) in order to more effectively save lives in densely populated urban areas. During this project, we conducted interviews with a multitude of stakeholders, developed a business plan, and participated in the Venture Initiation Program (VIP). Although we were unable to find a customer for our concept, which was pitched to municipalities, insurance companies, and venture capitalists, it was a valuable learning experience and has greatly aided my success in subsequent health care projects. My experiences in developing this project allowed me to get comfortable with a set of tools that can be applied to innovation in any context, and these tools are coming in very handy at Ansell.

Where are you hoping that your career will take you in the next few years?

As I contemplate my future career, although it may be difficult to predict exactly where I would like to be, I strive to attain a role which will enable me to lead an effective, high-functioning team that will positively impact and improve the quality of life of others on a global scale. I also hope to continue to be involved in innovative health care projects that will identify and develop feasible solutions for health care inefficiencies and disparities.

What advice do you have for current students interested in working in innovation?

Penn is a central hub for innovation throughout various disciplines and industries. The university is filled with bright and dynamic students capable of driving ambitious projects to completion. While at Penn, leave yourself open to opportunity, consistently challenge yourself, collaborate with interdisciplinary groups, think about a business challenge through a cross-disciplinary approach, and meet as many new people outside of your immediate social circle as possible. In a mid to large size enterprise, it is absolutely essential to be able to work cohesively within a diverse team setting and adeptly adapt to the demands of a dynamic, global work environment.

Read more about Emily Pell’s experience addressing healthcare innovation at Wharton.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.

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