Social Impact MBA

Saving lives in the skies: A case for the books

Matthew Kriegsman ’11, MBA’20

What do you do for a living if you have three seemingly divergent trajectories in your career - a pilot’s license, a law degree, and an MBA with a concentration in strategy, operations and social impact? For Matthew Kriegsman ’11, MBA’20, the paths did not fork; they converged. Kriegsman, who trained as a pilot before entering as a first-year at Brandeis and earned his law degree after college, was already familiar with the high caliber of students, faculty, and staff at Brandeis. However, he was also especially grateful that “the Heller MBA provided many opportunities for personalized and self-directed growth.”

While earning his MBA, Kriegsman developed a strategy and operations focus that was further enhanced during a semester-long internship with Boston MedFlight, New England’s largest nonprofit air-ambulance, under the supervision of Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld, Florence G. Heller Chair and Professor at Heller and expert in the field of social impact enterprises. The internship served as the perfect introduction to the mission-driven sector of air medical transport. 

It was such a success that Kriegsman not only authored a business school case study based on it, CASE 5.1 Boston MedFlight: Leveraging Data to Design a New Helicopter Algorithm, but also co-founded and co-edited The Heller Social Impact Case Collection, published by Brandeis University Press and the University of Chicago Press, alongside Professor Cutcher-Gershenfeld and Carole Carlson, Professor of the Practice and former director of Heller’s MBA program. The case describes the potential introduction of a new helicopter operation called “Smart Launch” at Boston MedFlight. 

Students learn how to critically analyze the social impact of “Smart Launch,” which is intended to improve patient outcomes by decreasing the estimated arrival time of transports, while balancing strategic, operational, and financial implications. Since 2022, Cutcher-Gershenfeld has taught the case at Heller in his operations management class. 

After graduating with his MBA in 2020, Kriegsman worked for Boston MedFlight as a Senior Analyst in Strategy & Operations, and thereafter joined Atrium Health’s MedCenter Air, the largest air-ambulance in the Mid-Atlantic, as a senior analyst in Strategy & Analytics. For both medevacs, which provide emergency and critical care transport services for patients via a fleet of jets, planes, and helicopters staffed by EMTs and flight nurses, Kriegsman helped save people’s lives during the heightened stakes of the COVID crisis. His analyses and recommendations contributed significantly to the C-suite’s understanding of the pandemic’s impact on company strategy, operations, and social impact: “We had to make difficult tradeoffs, often without precedent. The Heller MBA provided crucial frameworks to spearhead those decisions successfully for both our community health and the sustainability of our operations.” One of those projects even became a Team Consulting Project in the summer of 2022, where Kriegsman served as a mentor and facilitator for Heller MBA students to improve relational coordination at MedCenter Air. 

Kriegsman cites another unique opportunity in shaping his career path that was presented to him during business school: an independent study focused on airline economics and revenue management at MIT’s International Center for Air Transportation, under the supervision of Heller Professor Jody Hoffer Gittell, an expert in human resources for the aviation industry and author of “The Southwest Airlines Way.” This experience served as yet another runway to Kriegsman’s post-MBA career, where he learned the fundamentals of running airlines as costly operational and capital-intensive enterprises with low margins that nonetheless are crucial infrastructure for society. Leveraging these insights in conjunction with his social impact learnings, he employed strategies at Boston MedFlight and MedCenter Air that benefited patient outcomes without exacerbating their medical bills, while also reducing the operational costs of operating fleets of jets and helicopters.

Following his successful tenures in the air-ambulance sector, Kriegsman joined Amazon Air in January of 2022, which flies both Amazon and other air cargo products across the globe, including North America, Europe, and Asia. As a Senior Program Manager in Network Planning, he led strategic programs across network design, flight scheduling, and technical enhancements to bolster long-term growth and profitability. Recently, he was promoted to Senior Program Manager of Amazon Air’s Global Strategic Programs and Initiatives team, leading a subset of the airline’s largest and most complex global strategic initiatives.

“Learning the ability to solve problems for business and society was a crucial benefit of earning my social impact MBA, but I am especially grateful to have cultivated lifelong mentors and colleagues with a passion to improve our world.”