Social Impact MBA

Saving lives in the skies

Matthew Kriegsman in a leather jacket and khakis in front of a gray helicopter
Matthew Kriegsman in front of a Boston MedFlight helicopter

What do you do for a living if you have a Social Impact MBA and a pilot’s license—and you want to pursue two seemingly divergent trajectories in your career?

For Matthew Kriegsman ’11, MBA’20, the paths didn’t fork; they converged. His new position with Atrium Health’s MedCenter Air as a management associate of strategy, operations & financial management, lets him take flight at the perfect intersection of those two worlds. MedCenter Air provides emergency and critical care transport services for patients via a fleet of jets, planes and helicopters staffed by EMTs and flight nurses.

“I get to be part of a team and organization that saves people’s lives—which remains particularly important during the heightened stakes of the COVID crisis,” he says, noting that the analysis and recommendations he provides contributes significantly to understanding the effects of the pandemic on his company’s operations. “But rather than being on the front lines [as a pilot], I can analyze the enterprise from a bird’s-eye view through the lens of data science and operations.”

Kriegsman developed that operational background at Heller while earning his MBA focused on health policy and management, and thereafter as an operations analyst for Boston MedFlight, a similar organization to MedCenter Air, during the height of the COVID crisis.

“As a Brandeis undergraduate alumnus, I was aware of the high caliber of students, faculty and staff at Heller,” says Kriegsman, who trained as a pilot before entering as a first-year at Brandeis. “But I was especially grateful that the Heller MBA provided many opportunities for personalized and self-directed growth.”

This personalized approach notably came in the form of a semester-long internship with Boston MedFlight, which served as the perfect introduction to the field of medical transport. Supervised by Professor Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld—a mentor of Kriegsman’s and an expert in the field of social impact enterprises—the internship was such a success that Kriegsman authored a business school case study based on it. Since then, Cutcher-Gershenfeld has taught that case at Heller several times in his operations management class. 

Kriegsman also cites another unique opportunity presented to him via Heller in forging his career path: an independent study focusing 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. This experience served as yet another runway to Kriegsman’s current position, where discovering operational inefficiencies and their financial impacts on the organization is a big part of the picture. He also uses data analytics to discover operational transport improvements that benefit patient outcomes without exasperating their medical bills.

“Because the air-ambulance sector is heavily multidisciplinary, I can truly leverage my formal education while also growing and learning every day,” he says.

As he looks toward the future, Kriegsman is also interested in a new frontier: medical drones, which can be used to deliver critical transplant tissue, medicine, vaccines and more.

“As a licensed private pilot and licensed commercial drone pilot, I’m intimately familiar with the web of airspace restrictions and regulations that must be promulgated before medical delivery drones become commonplace,” he says. Kriegsman, who also holds a JD and is a licensed attorney, plans to combine his knowledge of the law with his MBA and pilot experience. “With my Heller MBA, I’m confident that I’m suited to that challenge.”