Nina Serpiello, Organizational Systems

Photograph of Nina Serpiello

Nina Serpiello

Organizational Systems Student

Nina wants to reinvent the pharmaceutical industry.

A former psychologist and art therapist, Nina has spent the last several years doing research for major pharmaceutical companies … and knows from the inside just how much change is needed.

"The industry is disintegrating,” she said. "Everything's changed in the last few years, from the way people buy drugs to the way insurance offers fewer benefits. Pharma companies developed their systems in an old, labor intensive way, very costly: if you poke around that system you quickly run into a lot of unsustainable business practices, and they are desperate for new, more sustainable, models. They need to innovate if they're going to survive – and it's enormously complex."

There's opportunity here, both to advance professionally and to make the world a better place. But she wasn't ready.

"I love learning: I'm always looking for the next challenge," she said. "But I've been a researcher for a long time, and I felt like I wasn't getting very much mentorship. I was feeling restless and needing new skills and not being able to find the mentors I needed."

So she decided to expand her education. "Education has always been my way up in the corporate world." But she didn't want to leave her job: she couldn't afford to, and it would be counter-productive to leave a good job in the field she wants to change.

That made finding the right school a challenge.

"My job is very demanding: I travel a lot, and I couldn't go to a traditional institution," she said. But that was only one problem: could she find a school that would allow her to pursue the research she needed to do? "I knew that I needed a program that I could tailor to what I was already doing, rather than go to an institution and work on somebody else's research."

A savvy shopper, she began looking into her options.

"Saybrook was suggested to me – it came highly recommended – and it was much more applicable to the professional world than any other distance learning schools I'd found. Once I read about Saybrook and I could see how I could tailor my studies and find that mentorship that I needed, it all fit really well. It offered me the freedom to make my studies relevant to what I was doing."

Now close to obtaining her PhD in Organizational Systems, Nina said the experience has been exactly what she wanted.

"Another world has opened up to me," she said. "I've found teachers that have become the mentors that I'm not finding in the business world."

It's also been "a huge personal transformation."

"I think that if you come to Saybrook with some sense of direction and an open mind you are going to expand tremendously once you start your studies," she said. "I also think that Saybrook's distance learning model helps to form a really strong supportive relationship with other students. I've made one friend in particular – we're both working in the health industry and are collaborating on research proposals. We call each other very frequently, and encourage each other to keep pushing and keep questioning. Having that very personal relationship was hugely helpful as an emotional support, as an intellectual exchange, it helped shape ideas. It certainly made my experience richer."