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WGU Graduate Speaker, Sapan Desai, MD, Ph. D., Summer 2012

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WGU Graduate Speaker, Sapan Desai, MD, Ph. D., Summer 2012
Western Governors University
<p>Dr. Sapan Desai is from Chicago, Illinois, and lives in Durham, North Carolina. He graduated from online university Western Governors University with his MBA in Healthcare Management from WGU. A successful surgeon and faculty member at Duke University and the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Texas Medical Center, Sapan had already earned his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees before coming to WGU. He is also CEO of a rapidly growing health information technology company and found that he needed to learn to "speak the language of business" and obtain other business skills and knowledge—a need that he was able to fulfill at WGU. He credits his MBA training with successes at Duke and the University of Texas at Houston that have led to his promotion as faculty.</p> <p>Dr. Desai shared his story as a speaker at WGU's July 14, 2012, commencement ceremony in Salt Lake City, where he received his diploma.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Faculty, fellow graduates, honored guests, it is a privilege and an honor to speak to you today for a very I promise short time. Before I begin, I'd like to acknowledge my beautiful and supporting wife who is in the audience with me today. Niki, go ahead and stand up. Round of applause for all of our supporters, all of our mentors. [Applause]</p> <p>I'd also like to acknowledge my mentor, Joe Castle, for his extraordinary motivation. If it wasn't for him, and for all of our mentors, I don't think I could've gotten through this. [Applause] And finally, I'd like to express my gratitude for the tremendous vision of all of governors and founders of WGU. If it wasn't for their innovation, we wouldn't have this opportunity. [Applause]</p> <p>Sun Tzu in The Art of War states "opportunities multiply as they are seized." And about leadership he avers, "lead by example, not by force." Although he was born in 544 BC in China, I think it is safe to say that Sun Tzu may have been the first graduate of the Western Governors University College of Business. Winston Churchill, quite possibly the second graduate of WGU, stated in 1941, "Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never. In nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."</p> <p>Today, his words can just as aptly speak of me being my own worst enemy, and for us to never give into the temptation to give up or slow down. "Give in only to convictions of honor and good sense," Churchill says. And in March of this year, I gave into that good sense, and I seized just such an opportunity.</p> <p>I enrolled in WGU's MBA and Health Care Management Program. And just as Sun Tzu predicted, this opened the door to many more opportunities. The competitive advantage that a WGU business education provided me translated into strategic thinking, leadership by example, and the skill set that gave me tremendous advantage in the health care industry. The knowledge of current ratios, and return on common equity that we learned about in financial analysis allowed me to develop a new technology initiative for a major hospital out East.</p> <p>Theories I acquired on process strategy and decision trees turned into a project to find out what makes gifted surgeons so talented, and to apply those lessons to up and coming medical students to change the future of health care. Ideas are a dime a dozen. The hard part is operationalizing a good idea. Going from a vision to a product.</p> <p>A few years ago I came up with an idea for a digital way of keeping track of medical records that would save patients, doctors and hospitals millions of dollars. More importantly, this program would help decrease the number of patients who die unnecessarily in hospitals due to a medical error by catching mistakes before they happen. 180,000 patients per year could be saved, according to the Institute of Medicine. $17.1 billion. That's the cost of waste for these medical errors that we could otherwise reinvest in improving the quality of the health care we provide to our patients.</p> <p>Through my studies in the Western Governors University MBA program, I gained the tools to understand the business and financial aspects of my project. Competency based education made sure that the lessons I learned could be applied to a real world scenario. What I learned in the digital classroom helped my team operationalize this idea. And just a few months later, a hospital in North Carolina used this electronic medical record software to change the way they provided health care to you and me. A real world example that I was able to write about my MBA capstone project. [Applause]</p> <p>WGU provides us with the practical tools we need to innovate, operationalize, and seize the opportunities around us. In a sense, my experience at WGU can be thought of as finishing school. My medical degree taught me how to think about providing a high level of care for my patients. My PhD taught me how to think critically about medical research and to apply the results of that scholarship to benefit those who were suffering. My MBA greatly brought in a lifetime of learning and provides me with the language and skills that enable me to improve patient care by creating the framework to think rationally and logically about the business decisions we all must make, especially the economic challenges we face today.</p> <p>They helped me streamline operating inefficiencies both in health care, and in my personal life, and helped me to balance my priorities. Most importantly, they give me the tools to innovate, while maintaining the financial bottom line necessary to continue providing for those we serve. Never before has competency based learning been so important.</p> <p>Sun Tzu and Churchill would be proud of our determination to seize with strength and conviction the opportunities yet to come. Nothing that is easy is worthwhile. It is the challenges that teach us to never, never, never give in, to keep pressing forward no matter how hard it gets. Because at the end of the struggle is a fountain that never stops, a fountain that showers us with the twin gifts of knowledge and wisdom. The lessons we learn will always stay with us, enriching our lives as we enrich the lives of others.</p> <p>There is a reason that WGU was featured in the New York Times and CNN; why it wins awards from national organizations and why more than 40,000 students have chosen it for their educational needs. WGU provides us with the challenges that we need to grow, and the practical lessons to help us succeed in today's workplace. We thrive as the opportunities multiply around us.</p> <p>As a member of the 23rd graduating class of the Western Governors University College of Business, I'd like to summarize with a few thoughts. Think strategically and achieve competitive advantage by differentiating yourself. Seek the challenges that no one else dares. Fight until you persevere. Never give in. Remember that there is opportunity in every weakness, every struggle, every turn of the road.</p> <p>Remember the triple bottom line: Care about the people you work with. Care about the planet you live in. Care to make it worth your while, not just financially, but most importantly, in satisfaction and happiness. You have already listened to your good sense by being awarded your degrees here today. Let your dreams be given form and never give in until you have been true to yourself, and your mission in life.</p> <p>[Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
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Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)