Manoj “Bobby” Wunnava (EMBA ’14) was an accomplished student on the path to a successful career in the healthcare industry –with an undergraduate degree in environmental engineering from MIT and an MD from The George Washington University – when he joined the U.S. Air Force.
From 2000-04, he served as a flight medical officer and occupational medicine physician at three separate Air Force installations in the U.S. and Asia, working to ensure medical readiness especially after 9/11.
Upon entering the military, Wunnava declined the Montgomery GI Bill, thinking his education was already complete. “I spent the next 14 years kicking myself, recognizing the potential that additional education would provide,” says Wunnava. “My clinical skills were strong, but I wanted to have a different playbook to apply business concepts to changes coming down the pike in the areas of risk management and mitigation. I wanted to be able to approach problems from a business perspective.”
Fortunately for Wunnava, a friend in the military informed him about a new GI Bill that he qualified for –one for those on active duty on 9/11. As an assistant professor in anesthesiology and pain medicine at UNC Healthcare, he worked in a very supportive environment and decided to apply to UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Executive MBA Program.
Shortly before starting the program, Wunnava was appointed interim division chief of pain medicine in the department of anesthesiology. Soon after completing his degree in Oct. 2014, he was offered the position permanently.
“I attribute my getting that position to the completion of my MBA degree and serving as interim division director,” says Wunnava.
“What helped me most was being able to develop my leadership skills in the MBA program. Some people pick up these skills over time or through the school of hard knocks. At UNC Kenan-Flagler they are presented in a cohesive, transcendent curriculum that spans the MBA program.”
“As one of the few people who have been a faculty member and student at the same time, I have a vested interest in UNC. I am very concerned with protecting, defending and developing UNC Kenan-Flagler’s brand image. Without excellent faculty, services and being able to recruit the best students at all levels, we’ve invested all this time, money and energy for naught.”
After graduating, Wunnava made a generous class gift to purchase a brick at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “Being a donor was never a question for me. I wanted to honor my family and recognize my wife’s contribution as well. I want to show my children the brick – maybe in the future they can help fund this great state organization. Showing my children something tangible gives them extra pride and helps them understand that what benefits the School benefits them, too.”