As a senior at Hamilton College, I debated what career path to take. Should I go to Medical School? Maybe get a PhD? Or should I dive straight into the business world? I was a Biology major with four years of lab research under my belt. I had primarily worked in academic labs but spent one summer at Merck in their Screening and Protein Sciences Department. There, we ran tests to identify potential therapeutic candidates. Through this research, I started to see the link between bench science and the impact that science can have on people's lives in the form of therapies. That inspired me to explore the biopharma world, so I joined L.E.K. Consulting after graduation and made my way to their Life Sciences practice.

At L.E.K., I learned a tremendous amount about various pharma and biotech companies and their therapies. I worked on problems ranging from prioritizing new disease areas and forecasting expected revenues, to developing an equity investing plan for a major pharmaceutical company and performing due diligence on M&A targets. I also spent four months on secondment within a pharma company's Commercial Oncology department. I loved learning about the vast number of questions that must be answered for drugs to make it to market. And I especially loved any chance I got to dive into the science behind these questions.

A few years ago, as I started to think about what I wanted to do longer term, I toyed with the idea of getting an MBA to learn more about commercialization, investing, and policy, but I didn’t want to move too far from the hard science either. I distinctly remember googling to see if there were any dual MS/MBA programs so that I could pursue science and business at the same time. To my disappointment, I found many MS/MBA engineering programs, but nothing for a Biology-related field.

A couple years later when I was ready to apply to grad school, I once again did a search for any MS/MBA programs. To my surprise, I landed on the new HBS MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences website. I read every word about the program and was absolutely thrilled. I couldn’t have hand crafted a more perfect program. Its mission is to cultivate leaders who can assess potential therapeutic value, create sustainable business models, and understand the ethical implications of novel therapeutics or policies. I am so excited to be part of the inaugural cohort.

We kicked off the semester just the other day, and I'm already loving every second of it! This summer we are taking a class on COVID-19, and each day we hear from speakers who share unique perspectives. For example, we heard from an epidemiologist from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and learned more about ways to speed up testing in the US. He taught us about potential at-home COVID tests that, if used broadly across the country, could possibly help contain the next wave of COVID this fall. In some ways, the COVID pandemic exemplifies why this program is so important—it will develop leaders who are prepared to help fight future healthcare challenges. I can't wait to see what the rest of this program brings. I'm hoping to learn a lot more about the commercial side of biotech, venture capital, startups, and healthcare policy and use all that I learn to guide my future career.