Embarking on new challenges is part of the courageous spirit that defines Rachel Hoover 13W.
Hoover’s latest move will involve managing global teams and working for extended periods of time in Saudi Arabia and remote regions. As the new director of global services for Johns Hopkins Medical International, the global arm of the eminent medical institution, Hoover will take Johns Hopkins’ successful clinical and research methodologies and apply them to health systems around the world. She’s extremely excited about the opportunity because it’s right in her wheelhouse: scientific research, medical expertise, clinical processes, and knowledge of international cultures, along with skills honed by her Goizueta MBA, such as high-level project management, strategic oversight/financial modeling, and risk management.
“This position allows me to focus on my business skills and passions, which are patients, research, and healthcare,” she says.“I would be sitting on one side of the table fully confident in my scientific and medical knowledge, and on the other side were people from finance, marketing, and business development. I realized I did not speak their language. The desire to understand more about business was the spark that led to business school.”
As a trained physician assistant, Hoover is intimately familiar with clinical research, medicine, and working with patients. She spent her summers as an undergrad at Wheaton College, Massachusetts, conducting lung cancer research for a pulmonologist. Later, as part of her post-baccalaureate, pre-medicine work at the University of Pennsylvania, she dove deeper into advanced science courses, researched brain injuries and neurodegenerative diseases in a world-renowned laboratory, and began working with international teams spanning Europe, Japan, Canada, and beyond.
After graduating with a Master of Science degree from DeSales University’s Physician Assistant (PA) Program, Hoover moved from Pennsylvania to Georgia and worked in surgical oncology, assisting with advanced-cancer resections.
Always active, Hoover began consulting for the biotech startup Vaccinogen Inc. She has a passion for clinical research and how it can translate into pivotal advances in patient care. The Baltimore-based startup had developed a vaccine that uses the body’s own immune system to combat cancer and was coordinating clinical trials to prove the drug’s efficacy. Leveraging her clinical knowledge and previous lung cancer research experience, Hoover helped form a global Phase IIIb clinical trial, the last step before a drug can enter the consumer market. In meetings with potential partners in these trials, her expertise was key to the clinical matters, but when the conversation shifted to finance and business, she felt a widening gap beginning to emerge.
“I would be sitting on one side of the table fully confident in my scientific and medical knowledge, and on the other side were people from finance, marketing, and business development. I realized I did not speak their language,” recalls Hoover. “The desire to understand more about business was the spark that led to business school.”
To shore up her business acumen, Hoover selected the executive MBA program at Goizueta, commuting from Savannah, Ga., several times a month. Even with the elements that attracted her to the program—its global view, ideas of principled leaders, and the university’s research background—initially the business lingo in class was lost in translation.
“When I first started out I would hear the words but didn’t always know their meaning,” she says. “I remember going to Professor Rob Kazanjian and saying, ‘Sometimes I don’t completely understand the discussions.’ He said, ‘It’s likely as foreign to other students as it is to you. Everyone here is learning a new language.’”
Balancing her personal life, work, commute, and school made for an “intense” experience, Hoover says. However, the effort was more than worth it, she notes, because it not only opened a new “language,” but it also increased the impact she could have in her professional life.
“I wanted something that was going to allow me to broaden my scope and magnify the change I could contribute to the world,” Hoover explains. “I knew the MBA would help me have a greater impact.”
Hoover leveraged her MBA to get a full-time position with Vaccinogen, the company she consulted with for four years. As clinical operations director for global cancer vaccine trials, Hoover managed budgets, contracts and staff, and international relationships, ensuring all the moving parts of this complex study met both federal and international research guidelines. “In this role, I was able to gain the full spectrum of expertise in clinical research operations and clinical trial management,” Hoover says. “To work with such extraordinarily talented teammates in multiple countries and manage a global project was incredibly fulfilling.”
In her new role, Hoover will work to ensure the global provision of high-quality healthcare while continuing her professional trajectory and leadership development. She says: “For me, working in teams; using my education in science, medicine, and business to promote change; and traveling the world fulfills my professional goals. To find a career that allows me to be a small part of the solutions for global health has been exceptionally rewarding.”