Jonathon Lee




United States





By Jonathon Lee

Get to know Jonathon Lee, Class of 2020-21

Tell us about yourself: A former physiotherapist, first specializing in the care of elite and professional athletes before transitioning towards a community health and education role. Looking to scale the human lessons from patient care to help save a million lives post-COVID. Caffeinated adventurer, evolving outdoorsman, and amateur philosopher.

Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA: Healthcare

Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA: Biotech, Healthcare

Country of residence before coming to Oxford: USA

College:  Linacre College

Twitter: @JonLeePT
Instagram: @JonLeePT

Q1. In one word, how would your best friend describe you, and how would your manager describe you?
Best friend: Exuberant
Manager: Restless

Q2. Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford, and more specifically, the Oxford MBA.
I am the son of immigrants, raised in the rural south of the United States. Specifically, home was the state of Virginia along the coast of the Chesapeake Bay. Technology and education were comparatively scarce, but I spent my childhood immersed in the adventures of the woods, the water, and my local public library.

When I was 15, I decided I wanted to work with professional athletes. I began my journey at the University of Virginia, where I was a student athletic trainer for their varsity sports programs. Then, I earned my Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University, where I was also a student physical therapist in the school’s sports medicine/athletics department. In American physiotherapy, education past the doctoral level is optional, but I decided to continue my education in order to better situate myself for a career working with professional athletes via continued skill attainment. I completed an orthopedic physiotherapy residency in Houston, TX as well as a combined sports performance/orthopedic manual fellowship in Houston, TX, where I was fortunate to train under some of the brightest minds in sports rehabilitation from the clinical, research, and educational subsectors of my profession.

Following completion of my fellowship, I moved to Portland, Oregon on the west coast of the United States. I worked at the largest performance facility in the Pacific Northwest. It was my childhood dream realized – indoor turf field, barbells, kettlebells, Pilates reformers, gymnast rings, and a myriad of other tools I had at my disposal to train the best of the best. At the time, Oregon was the only state in America where patients could see physiotherapists without a prescription or referral, which allowed me to treat professional athletes through relationships I built with agents and performance coaches without the red tape of reporting to a team physician, as well as local athletes and clients just looking to get healthy and enjoy life’s offerings. Over the next two years, I realized that while treating professional athletes was fun and stimulating, I wasn’t really helping the most vulnerable of my community improve their lives, something that really bothered me as I reflected on the healthcare experiences my parents experienced as immigrants when I was young. So I quit my job, backpacked around Australia and Asia for 6 weeks, and decided I wanted to help those that truly needed it using the skills I had already acquired.


I returned to Portland, accepting a position with Providence St. Joseph Healthcare, the third largest hospital system in America and, at it’s core, a community health based organization tasked with providing treatment to the underserved members of my community – the illegal immigrants, the mentally ill, the homeless, victims of trauma, etc in addition to a normal caseload of sports and orthopedic patients. Along with my clinical caseload, I was tasked with being an educator. I spoke at state and local conferences on sports rehabilitation, and I created a mentorship program for novice therapists in my department combining elements of residency, fellowship, and professional sports in order to pass these skills to my team and, ultimately, provide higher quality treatment to our community at large. Personally, it was a big change transitioning from professional sports to cancer, stroke, autoimmune, and other diseases, but it was an enriching and noble transition considering the types of diagnoses I was now seeing.

Then COVID happened.

The lack of a unified government response in the US directly exposed the most vulnerable in our communities – the poor, the homeless, the uneducated, the very old, and the very young. Many people died, and many continue to do so. My colleagues across medicine did our best for our patients, but in many ways we were left to our own devices and, in some cases, martyred without given the correct protective equipment or federal guidance. With our medical system crippled by COVID, and the World Health Organization predicting a 3-5 year global recovery period for COVID, I decided that the perspectives from patient care would be necessary in guiding the future of American medicine. I chose to apply to the Oxford MBA, Round 5, for three reasons:

  1. Cross sector initiatives are the foundation of innovation in American medicine, and business is the conduit between sectors. As a top business school at the top university of the world, Oxford provides an opportunity to connect the brightest minds of our generation in a way that can, hopefully, save lives.
  2. With the emerging unrest around the globe, now is a crucial time to learn the perspectives and ideas of our international partners and peers. The global cohort of Oxford Saïd, and the shared perspectives within, provide a powerful addition to the ethical decision making base of patient care.
  3. The lens of social impact that guides the teachings of Saïd Business School. I felt that SBS was truly a place that looked to help solve world scale problems collaboratively, as opposed to the competition for solutions and zero-sum attitude of many other business schools in the US. Oxford Saïd has proved this time and time again through their initiatives such as the Oxford Foundry, Impact Lab, and GOTO.

Oxford Saïd provides an opportunity to learn the skills of business, in the culture of a nationalized healthcare system, surrounded by the brightest minds anywhere in the world. In this way, I value Oxford Saïd not only for the MBA, but because of the opportunity it provides in learning how to be a diverse thinker and, ultimately, a better leader for my community. My ultimate goal is to help save a million lives in whatever way I can: through a biotech cross sector initiative, hospital system executive leadership, or other currently unseen method molded by the experiences and talents of our amazing cohort.

Q3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?
Over the last two months, I have been reaching out to leaders in healthcare, both in hospital executive leadership and cross sector bio-tech initiatives, in order to gauge the future of American medicine and ascertain how the tools of an MBA can be applied across sectors based on my overarching goal. In addition, I have greatly enjoyed hearing the stories of our cohort I’ve been fortunate enough to meet digitally already, because understanding the backgrounds and values of those around you presents opportunities for collaboration that would not exist otherwise. The power of networking has been invigorating, as are the lessons of experience that come from those networks.

Q4. What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?
From a technical standpoint, I hope to gain the knowledge of finance and entrepreneurship in order to understand how to accurately plan, execute, and scale large health-centered initiatives. From a social impact standpoint, I hope to combine the breadth of knowledge supplied by business school with the backgrounds and talents of those around me in a way the both drive value and create something larger that would otherwise be unattainable in isolation.

Q5. What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?
A mentor told me that business school is overwhelming for those with uncontrolled curiosity – there is so much to learn and do, and not enough time or brainpower to do all of it. Keeping a brief list of “who am I, why am I here, and what do I want out of this” to refer back to, in his words, helps prevent overcommitting while still staying true to yourself and your curiosity.

Q6. Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?
Each person’s story truly is exceptional. Don’t be afraid to tell it. After dealing with death and dying as a clinician, I can say with certainty that each person’s story I encountered was supremely interesting and valuable. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your life is boring, or comparing it to someone else’s. Don’t be afraid to be exceptional, and don’t be afraid in proving it to yourself and others. For me, the application process was extremely introspective and reflective, and through organizing who I was and what was important to me, I learned a lot about who I am.

Q7. What part of the programme are you most looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to interacting with the cohort, professors, and staff. In particular, Professor Dopson’s work on organizational behaviour in healthcare is something I want to learn as much as I can on in a short time as a way to combine the macro-level roles of leadership in healthcare from her research with my micro-level clinical treatment perspectives.

Q8. What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?
The most challenging part for me will be filling in the knowledge gaps I’m missing since I’m coming from a non-traditional business background; getting up to speed on the foundations of business (economics, finance, accounting, etc) will be stressful, but I’m always open to help if someone is willing to offer it!

Q9. How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?
I’m hoping to take the dyad of clinician/business experience and apply it in a way that will positively impact lives on a macro-level scale, as opposed to my previous role in patient care emphasizing micro-level changes in my community. I think the perspective of understanding profit and loss, both from a business perspective as well as a human life perspective, is a crucial component to understand when making decisions in the healthcare sector where lives are at stake.

Q10. Are there any sport teams, societies, or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?
Oxford Mountaineering Club
Oxford Walking Club
Harry Potter Society

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