HMP Connections - A New Way to Connect!

Interviews with HMP Alumni from the University of Michigan's School of Public Health.

Serena Wang

A Conversation with Serena Wang

Last year, I had the pleasure to interview Serena Wang, the Manager of Mergers, Acquisitions & Partnership Development at Trinity Health and University of Michigan HMP Alumni Board Member. Serena received her MHSA from HMP in 2010.

With her experience in the provider space, it was great to get Serena's perspective on the value of an HMP education towards her career.

I hope you enjoy her words of wisdom as much as I did!

Ashley Reid, MHSA Candidate '18
(August 2017)

Q: You currently serve as a Manager of Mergers, Acquisitions & Partnership Development at Trinity. How have the skills you learned inside and outside the classroom translated to your current role?

I would say the most relevant skills I learned came from the HMP Strategy and Marketing class, along with the Strategy role I worked in for three and a half years prior to my current job. Each one really helped contribute to how we evaluate opportunities, if they are going to help strategically, and how it fits into the big picture. My first exposure to strategy was through the department and I think that was definitely my favorite class. I loved hearing about the actual cases that were done, going through real-life examples, and thinking about what I would do if I was in that situation. I was lucky enough to move into this area at Trinity Health!

Q: What was the most valuable thing you took away from the program?

That's a good question. I'm a relationship-oriented person. Personally, I took away a lot of great memories and lifelong friendships. Professionally, it laid down a foundation of thinking and understanding of public health, understanding how the US healthcare system runs, and ways we can improve it. There's just so much you learn on the job too, so it was a good starter I would say.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your time at Michigan?

I took a leadership class and that involved a lot of introspection and sharing. It was our last semester in the program, so one day our class decided to have an international and multicultural foods day. Everyone brought something that was close to their heritage or something they identified with. That was a really fun day! I think that was a great way to have everything culminate together with the learning process of HMP, while coming together as classmates and friends.

Q: Looking back, what would you have done differently?

I think I wish I had taken more finance classes other than what was initially required for the MHSA track. In M&A there's a lot of evaluation involving financials. There's work that I do on the side to try to strengthen those skills since I didn't have an undergrad degree in finance. So, I think being able to bolster that area to strengthen my financial acumen is something I would have tried harder to do during my time in HMP. But, it was really nice that there was such a wide range of healthcare courses and topics to choose from within the program!

Q: How have you utilized the alumni network both as a student and an alumnus?

As a student and as an alum, I knew the importance of the HMP alumni network. It was one of the big reasons why I decided to go to Michigan. To me, it felt like you could get a position anywhere geographically and not necessarily feel the need to stay local after HMP. Although I've personally stayed in Michigan this entire time, I think that's definitely proven to be the point with many of my classmates, in part due to the large alumni network.

As a student, I went to the coffee talks, attended various networking events through public health organizations, and ran the H-Net mentorship program which really helped to create those chances to connect with people on a more personal level. The mentorship programs, such as H-Net, are beneficial for both students and alumni. As an alum, I'm always sure to have an H-Net mentee each year. Being a mentor, and previously being a mentee in the program, I found how valuable it is to really connect and talk to someone personally. I like to hear what experiences students have had, how that's shaped their decisions, and what kind of lives they want to lead as an alumnus too. Through relationships with my own alumni mentors, I've been able to get advice on decision making, and when it is the right time to make a job move.

I also tried to take advantage of the many great alumni networking events HMP sponsors. I actually networked with the HMP Alumni Board previously between being a student and serving on the board and I think it really helped me see the value of continuing to give back. So, I was very excited to be able to officially join the board just this last year!

Another chance I got, just because I am local, was the opportunity to help guest teach a class for Operations Research with David Mendez. We had hired him as a consultant to work on some forecasting and Monte Carlo simulations, so it was pretty cool to actually take something from a very typical standpoint and refine it.

I've been pretty lucky to have all of these continual touchpoints. I think it's certainly easier being local, but I would encourage others, even if they're not, to create those opportunities and stay connected to the department.

Q: What do you think students can be doing now to prepare themselves best to enter the healthcare industry?

One thing I did as a student and more as a fellow was reaching out and networking with a lot of local alumni. I did this more as a fellow, but I think it was really helpful as a student too. As a student, there's so much you can really spend your time on. I reached out to all of the previous Trinity Health fellows and talked to them about how their career progressed, what their ambitions were, and what changed throughout that whole process. This gave me a lot of perspective on things I may not have otherwise thought about and created a networking opportunity to personally connect with someone. It's something I happened to try doing and I now see the fruits of it years down the road with a great set of mentors I can tap into if I ever want or need to.

Q: Any advice for current students and fellow wolverines?

I would say if there's anything you're passionate about or interested in, definitely explore it! Or even just kind of spread your wings and take the initiative to see what's out there. The University has so many amazing opportunities that you can tap into. I mean, I haven't done any global health work since right after I graduated, but we did a service trip to Jamaica which was a really cool experience. Since UofM is such a great institution where a lot of the programs are highly ranked, I would recommend students take classes in anything they're interested in through other schools, as well. Just to kind of broaden your knowledge and see what else is out there and you never know what will happen from that. You can always volunteer or consider other ways to get involved in school, but I think the university and Ann Arbor have a lot to offer. Realizing early on that everything is kind of a tradeoff, you should prioritize what's most important to you because you'll always be saying no to something. It's hard to maximize everything! School is also a really good way to test out work-life balance. It's good to be cognizant of the decisions your making, but also don't be too hard on yourself!

Ashley ReidAshley Reid is a 2018 MHSA graduate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. When she’s not with her HMP cohort, you can find her running with her labradoodle named Reggie, working at MVMNT cycling studio, or searching for quality Mexican food.