Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices


Pharmaceutical and medical device firms must innovate to thrive in today’s competitive environment.

Innovation requires courage — the courage to pursue new markets, new products, and change by forging partnerships with new allies. Above all, innovation requires exceptional leadership skills. Wharton Executive Education partners with the world’s top pharma and medical device firms to design engagements that develop leaders, address specific skill areas, and link back to strategic priorities. We accelerate the leadership development process of top talent who are ready to lead in patient-centric environments, senior executives who empower the organization through its values, and leaders who are equipped to spearhead growth and change.

Wharton’s Executive Education programs address the complexities of the performance-driven culture while providing business leaders with the tools and resources necessary to make an impact. The world’s top pharmaceutical and medical product firms rely on us to spur growth through learning.


Pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device organizations face unprecedented times. Challenges, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), patent cliffs, changing pipelines, shifting regulatory constraints, and industry commoditization, mean that leaders must define new commercial models and flawlessly execute on those models. We leverage our pharma expertise as we partner with firms like yours to design programs that focus on:

  • Innovation Across Functions
  • Leading Through Uncertainty
  • Accountability/Empowerment
  • Improving Business Acumen
  • Health Economics
  • Negotiations
  • Strategic Agility
  • Value Creation
  • Marketing Excellence
  • Customer-Focused Strategy
  • Organizational and Cultural Change

Thought Leadership

Wharton faculty members are experts in bioscience, health economics, emerging technologies, and more. Wharton is the only university executive education program that offers an industry vertical dedicated to pharmaceuticals.

Several Wharton research centers deal with cutting-edge issues relevant to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries:

Center for Health Management and Economics

By focusing on research and communication, the Center for Health Management and Economics explores how managerial insight and economic incentive can improve the current state of health care provision. The Center fosters interaction between academic and business leaders by hosting annual conferences, publishing a quarterly digest, and supporting a variety of research projects. Works in progress include an international price comparison on pharmaceuticals, hospital ownership conversions, and alignment of physician groups and health systems. 

Mack Institute for Innovation Management

The Mack Institute for Innovation Management is an exclusive network that connects business leaders, researchers, world-class Wharton faculty, and students. At the Institute, thought leaders from across academic disciplines and industries come together to explore how companies survive, compete, and thrive through innovation management. The Institute’s multidisciplinary faculty and researchers develop practical approaches to managing innovation and share this knowledge through thought-provoking conferences, workshops, and publications. Visit the Institute's website »

Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

A formal cooperative venture among the University of Pennsylvania's schools of medicine, business, nursing, and dental medicine, LDI works to improve public health through multidisciplinary studies in medicine, economics, and social and ethical issues that influence health care. The Institute emphasizes research on the efficient allocation and appropriate use of health care resources and the development of innovative health care delivery systems. Visit the Center's website »

Tools & Solutions

Recent examples of Wharton's partnership experience include:


Wharton created an innovation tournament for 40 leaders at a global pharmaceutical firm. The executives formed small groups and created a new product launch strategy for a real phase II molecule. The product was successfully launched using the strategy developed by the team that “won” the innovation tournament.

Business Strategy

Working with the president and top 16 executives of a global pharmaceutical firm, Wharton created a custom education solution to enhance the firm’s patient-centered business strategy. The strategy had been stalled. A two-day engagement at Wharton Executive Education allowed the group to push their thinking and take immediate, specific action toward patient-centered care.

New Value Creation

During a custom executive education program, participants frequently come up with valuable ideas for new products or services ideas. In a recent program, Wharton engaged with 30 high-potential leaders from a global pharma and device company for a multi-modular learning continuum with applied projects. One project resulted in almost $200 million USD in new revenue for the organization.

EFMD Excellence in Practice Award

Wharton Executive Education received the Excellence in Practice Award from the European Federation for Management Development in 2011 and 2012. The award-winning 2012 engagement, “Merck Global Human Health Executive Development Programme,” addressed a question relevant to all health care leadership & development professionals: How do you create an executive learning experience that accelerates the development of key capabilities while advancing the organization's strategy? In a recent webinar, Judy Kelley, Executive Development Leader for Enterprise Learning at Merck, and Sandhya Karp, Managing Director of Custom Programs at Wharton, highlighted Wharton’s solution.


  • Lawton Burns, PhD

    James Joo-Kim Professor; Professor of Health Care Management; The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Health care management, hospital-physician relationships, integrated health careSee Faculty Bio

  • George Day, PhD

    Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Competitive strategies in global markets, strategic planning processesSee Faculty Bio

  • Jagmohan Raju, PhD

    Joseph J. Aresty Professor; Professor of Marketing; Vice Dean, Executive Education, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Competitive strategy, pricing, retailingSee Faculty Bio

  • G. Richard Shell, JD

    Thomas Gerrity Professor; Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics and Management; Chairperson, Legal Studies & Business Ethics Department, The Wharton School

    See Faculty Bio

  • Christian Terwiesch, PhD

    Andrew M. Heller Professor; Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics; Co-Director, William and Phyllis Mack Institute for Innovation Management; Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Analyzing operational performance, innovation management, R&D managementSee Faculty Bio

  • Michael Useem, PhD

    William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management; Editor, Wharton Leadership Digest; Director, Center for Leadership and Change Management, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Catastrophic and enterprise risk management, corporate change and restructuring, leadership, decision making, governanceSee Faculty Bio

  • Patti Williams, PhD

    Ira A. Lipman Associate Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School

    Research Interests: Consumer decision-making, emotional and attitudinal ambivalence, the persuasive effects of emotionSee Faculty Bio