Advancing paediatric surgery through education and research

Surgical Leadership: Harvard in London

Hemanshoo Thakkar

Mark Davenport

Wouldn’t you like to be a surgical leader, striding forward, crushing paediatricians, making snap decisions, earning the respect you know you deserve?

Figure 1: The Royal Society

One way of achieving this is to harness the power and experience of the Harvard Medical School, (established in 1782) set it in the tranquil buildings of the Royal Society (established in 1660) in London where the ancient walls have imbibed ghosts of past generations of eminent alumni and scientists such as Christopher Wren, Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking.

Harvard Medical school are now running regular “Surgical Leadership Programs” in the UK, looking for both young and older more established surgeons and inculcating them with their  methods to get ahead. The Program Director is Sayeed Malek a transplant surgeon at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., who clearly has the CV to lead such a program and is enthusiastic and energetic enough as a Duracell bunny to carry it through. And incidentally he has worked in the NHS…

Figure 2: MD and Sayeed Malek

London is a convenient hub for the rest of the world outside of the continental USA attracting about 30 delegates from a geographically disparate area from Sweden, Belgium, Austria, Hungary and The Netherlands in Europe over to Pakistan, Hong Kong and Indonesia in the Far East and down to Australia on the other side of the known world. The delegates too came in all sorts of backgrounds, shapes and sizes from consultants in Urology, Orthopaedics and General Surgery to CEO’s, private practitioners and section heads from other universities.   All, however, were united in the common belief and desire to get ahead.  Within this, and probably the youngest there was Hemanshoo (Specialty Registrar, Great Ormond Street Hospital).

So, what is it that they offer? The themes, and I say this through somewhat gritted teeth as a fully paid-up member of the Northern dinosaur fraternity, are:

  • Learning how to build your personal brand and leadership style,
  • Identify opportunities for surgical innovations and bringing research ideas to fruition,
  • Learning about patenting your ideas
  • Learning about bundling payments and personalized health plans
  • Modules covering patient safety, litigation, quality improvement, human resources and finances

The whole is a one-year (ACCME) certified program with three 4 day residential workshops – the first two can be in London, Hong Kong or Boston but the final one is always in Boston.  In between there are personalised assignments, supported by on-line lectures and webinars.  The suggested commitment is 7-10 hours a week so it is not something for those whose lives are already filled by hobbies, pastimes and such trivia.

Figure 4: Course Structure

In the London week in April areas covered included Tesco – yes that Tesco – but from a business strategy perspective and how Terry Leahy made it into the biggest UK grocer, with, at its height 30% of the retail market. Less familiar business examples included Twine Health – a cloud-based platform for management of chronic disease and health coaching. In the USA this is used for creating personalised health plans, links to health professionals and incidentally has just been bought over by Fitbit to add to a 24/7 tracking concept.  One part of the course is termed the Capstone Project – nothing to do with Jason Bourne – but all to do with developing, commercialising or patenting a real-world surgical device or idea; or delivering a surgical education project etc. This is your ideas, developed and supported by mentors at Harvard Business School.

“I am due to graduate in September this year and have thoroughly enjoyed all the elements of the program. When I first started it in October 2018 I was slightly overwhelmed being the only junior doctor on the course. I was certainly made to feel welcome and as the months have gone by, I have now covered several modules on patient safety, innovation, litigation, quality improvement and NHS finances.

My Capstone project is in the field of innovation/education. I have created a series of evidence based podcasts in Paediatric Surgery titled ePiPS in conjunction with the post-graduate medical education department at GOSH. The podcasts are curriculum mapped and freely available to listen to on SoundCloud. They are designed for higher surgical trainees preparing for their FRCS examination.

The program has certainly given me an insight into aspects of health management I have not encountered elsewhere. It is certainly worthwhile for all those in current leadership roles or aspiring to be future leaders within our health system.”

Figure 3: ePiPS and HT at London Workshop, October 2018

Now to the bottom line…the cost. None of these people have made millions of dollars by giving it away, well a least not in the beginning remember.  The overall cost is something like $12,900 for the entire thing with discounts for being an “early bird”. It doesn’t distinguish between consultant and junior and whether it’s all tax-deductible is between you and your accountant. 

The next cohort will begin in London on 14th October 2019.

Further Information:

Website and Brochure available at:

Regular introductory Webinars are held to provide information and to judge whether this is right for you.

My thanks to Ms Karen Kuc Kuc who is an associate director and facilitator and who can provide details and help.

[email protected]

Mr Hemanshoo Thakkar  – Specialist Registrar     

Prof Mark Davenport – (ex) President of BAPS        [email protected]

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