Alumni Profile: Steven Gerken (FlexWeekend 2006)

Why did you decide to attend the Rady School?

I decided that I needed more tools to advance my career. The Rady School was a startup, and I really liked the idea of going to that type of school.

How has the Lab to Market sequence influenced your career?

After graduating from Rady, I started my own company, and I’ve now started a second company. My success is based 100 percent on what I learned in Lab to Market. I hope to be the poster child for the Rady School’s Lab to Market one day!

What skills did you acquire in the Lab to Market program?

As a scientist, I had very little knowledge of business, and virtually no knowledge of the business of science. The Lab to Market program gave me the tools to understand financing, the business process and networking — basically the soup to nuts on how to build a science-related business.

How have the Rady School’s strong ties to the local business community assist you?

Part of the curriculum involved industry leaders, CEOs, business officers and venture capitalists. They would meet with us at every lunch, every dinner on the weekends and also at events. I felt that Dean Sullivan gave us incredible access to every executive in San Diego and to every venture-capital group operating in Southern California. We could knock on their doors and say, “I’m from the Rady School; can I talk to you?”

How would you describe the Rady student experience?

We were and are a close cohort. The intensity of both working and going to school full-time brought us all together. Of course, within that group there are tighter clusters of people who’ve maintained relationships. In fact, I still have professional relationships with a lot of colleagues from my class.

What advice would you give to a prospective student who is considering attending the Rady School?

I do talk to lots of people, including many prospective students. Those who believe in building tomorrow’s business model are ideal for Rady. I make sure these prospective students know that the Rady School’s model is building entrepreneurial skills for the leaders of the future.