My Bay Area Healthcare Trek

March 10, 2017
by Ashmeeta Maharaj

My decision to attend the Rady School of Management versus all of the other top business schools across the country was heavily based on the fact that the Rady School has such a strong network within the healthcare industry. Earlier this year, I got to experience our school’s real connections with leading healthcare companies such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Advanced Cell Diagnostics, Varian Medical Systems and others during our Bay Area Trek. Most schools typically invite distinguished professionals to present as guest speakers or present during career fairs, but our Rady Graduate Career Connections did more than that – they organized for us to meet and spend valuable time with key executives and hiring managers across industries such as: biotech and life sciences, banking and investments, technology, and consumer interfacing. This two-day trip was truly one of the best experiences of my entire business school career!

As a second year student only six months away from graduation, I have been aggressively looking for opportunities in the biotech and life sciences industries where my MBA skills could be valued, and this trip couldn’t have been scheduled for a better time. A few weeks prior to the trip, participating students were eligible to personalize their meetings by selecting to network with organizations across varying treks (biotech, banking and investments, technology and consumer interfacing). Many of my fellow group members really liked this customization since they did not have to commit to one trek especially if their interests spanned across multiple disciplines.

Once we arrived, Career Connections ensured that students were connected with a group advisor assigned to each company. Our advisors helped to facilitate questions during the meetings, ensured that we arrived on time and helped us navigate between companies.  

My first stop was at Thermo Fisher Scientific. It was tucked away in the beautiful hills of South San Francisco near some of the other companies that we were eventually going to visit. It was raining that morning, and I was pleasantly surprised that the Thermo Fisher’s team had a buffet of hot coffee, breakfast pastries, and other snacks available for us!

Once we sat down, Matt Gorovoy (MBA ’11), the finance director of genetic analysis business and a Rady alum, welcomed us by genuinely trying to get to know each student in the room. We were asked to share information about ourselves, our career aspirations, and the types of opportunities of interest. The leaders and hiring managers in the room really wanted to know how they could help us with our endeavors. After our introductions, there were several guest speakers across various departments. We met Luis Anaya, the senior human resources director and divisional human resources leader for the Clinical NextGen Sequencing Division; Sarah Gibson, senior manager in talent acquisition; Michael Baffi, the global director in public health, and so many other phenomenal people. Each person shared their own professional experiences, personal stories, opportunities within their own departments and why they love working at Thermo Fisher. The highlight of the entire meeting was that each person had a genuine admiration of the daily work that Thermo Fisher Scientific does and how fortunate they felt to be a part of the larger vision.

The next day, I drove across the Dumbarton Bridge passing the Facebook headquarters to meet Vanee Pho (MBA ’07), the senior product manager and Rady alum at Advanced Cell Diagnostics. This was a small company that had recently been acquired due to their substantial growth. Vanee welcomed us and had a more informal meeting prepared. Just like Matt at Thermo Fisher, Vanee also really cared about what our goals were for this trip, specifically our post-graduation or summer internship goals. Meeting Vanee was amazing because she offered to be a close mentor to us and even offered to review resumes, coach and prepare us for interviews, and connect us with her own contacts across the companies that we were meeting. Since the trip, Vanee and I have been in touch countless times and she is now my go-to person for guidance!

The last company that I visited was Varian Medical Systems in Palo Alto. The meeting kicked off with a tour of Varian’s engineering facility. We saw first-hand how their technology was developed, engineered, and then manufactured all onsite! Eventually, we all gathered in their conference room where Chris Toth, president of global commercial and field operations, welcomed us and shared what working at Varian meant for him. After his brief presentation, he opened the floor and welcomed us to ask questions and at one point said, “I’m really having to think right now guys, these are very smart and strategic questions!” I took note of how Chris not only answered each student, but also ensured that his university relations team in the room took notes of suggestions that students had regarding internships and partnerships between Rady and Varian. Afterwards, we heard from a panel of representatives comprised of the most senior project manager to a recently hired intern. My take-away from Varian was that they valued the aspirations of their employees and encouraged people to work on multiple projects rather than being siloed within their departments.

Since the trip I have contacted and spoken with most of the leaders and Rady alumni that we met. I am so thankful for our robust and supportive alumni network and that Career Connections coordinated such a phenomenal two-day networking trip that truly launched my efforts to find opportunities after graduation!

your rady mba