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Best B-School for Biotech MBA?

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Best B-School for Biotech MBA? [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2010, 08:55
Hi folks,

I would like your input regarding your thoughts on the best place to go for someone who wants to work in strategic positioning and/or operations for a leading pharmaceutical/biotech company.

In my opinion there are 2 of the big schools that fit the profile: Harvard and Wharton, both have faculty that are very involved in Biotech research and both schools have excellent medical schools and biomedical research on their respective campus. Stanford I feel lacks a little Biotech involvement in their B-School.
Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, Stern - I do not know, all these places lack a solid Biotech profile in my opinion. Ross, Duke and Darden, I can't even really find info - so I really don't know about these. Then there is HAAS and MIT, both schools are in the heart of the Biotech industry and have strong ties, so I feel they would be good choices. Then there is Cornell, who has a special program for people with advanced degrees (be it scientific or not), so that may be appealing, but overall, I think a weak choice for someone wanting to go into Biotech.
Two school off that are a bit of the radar would be Tepper and SDSU. (Yeah I agree, SDSU is more off the radar than Tepper ;-) ) I am in the process of finding out more about Tepper and haven't made up my mind yet. SDSU is strongly positioned within another biotech hub and really is focusing on recruiting scientist and engineers. It is a small class and with a very homogeneous profile, so I feel I would be missing out on some of the MBA experience at a place with such little diversity - then again San Diego is great living....

I would like to here what other people think.....anyone else interested in a biotech MBA? Anyone suggestions?
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Re: Best B-School for Biotech MBA? [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2010, 10:44
I'm planning to go into health care product management, with probably either a slant to devices or biotech & a preference for new product development. To be honest though, I can't really tell exactly what it is you want to do as I see strategy and operations not really being the same.

Really any of the top 15 could get you there depending on what you want to do. Not knowing your profile & detailed goals, here's what I think.
I think the best overall options are still H/W/S. Stanford has a definite benefit of location for biotech and it's probably still the best management school outside of Harvard.
Then after that Kellogg & MIT (if you want to do operations). Kellogg has a health care concentration & MMM may be good for what you want to do. Some of the programs at MIT might fit the bill too.
Then after that Berkeley, Ross & Fuqua, no particular order generally. I would say Haas is good mainly because of location - they have a health care program, but from what I've seen it's more geared at provider side, I don't doubt you could get into biotech though. Fuqua has a general overall good health care program. Ross doesn't have as strong health care offerings, but brings a decent number of recruiters and will be stronger on the GM/ops front.

I only applied to Kellogg, Duke, and Ross because I wasn't wasting $400 on H/S, I never wanted to go to Wharton, and I didn't like MIT. I didn't apply to Haas because I didn't want to be west coast, so I ended up with those three.
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Re: Best B-School for Biotech MBA? [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2010, 13:24
Just as a quick reply, I think I understand why you are confused about my strategic planning / operations plan.

I am scientist by training and (probably) by heart and what I meant to say when I used above terms is: I would like to work in a position where I am heavily involved in chartering the research and development course that a company will take from both a financial and scientific perspective (I called that strategic planning). As for operations, that to me is putting the strategic plan into action.
I understand that these terms are typically used to describe somewhat different disciplines, I should have been more precise in my first post.

As for Stanford, it certainly is located in big bio region, but by browsing the web, I did 'feel' the connectivity that I found for H and W.
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Re: Best B-School for Biotech MBA? [#permalink] New post 30 Jan 2010, 14:30
if you want to be the head of R&D or something still heavily related to science, you don't need an MBA. I work for a leading biotech company and from what I see, MBA hires at my company goes to the business side, either marketing, business planning, or operations (MIT LGO folks~). Unfortunately strategic planning on R&D side still rely on the shoulders of R&D heads, who are PHDs/MDs rather than MBAs. Of course they cooperate with business/finance people, but the business side do not drive how decisions are made in R&D. People do get part-time MBA though, but it's really not a requirement to get to the position you are describing.
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Re: Best B-School for Biotech MBA? [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2010, 08:39
Hi Dreamchaser,
I actually think you are absolutely right, those jobs are filled with scientist or MDs, often with MD/PhDs. So I have this theory about the MDs though, you will see them in high positions, but often not on the very top, whereas you will see PhDs there. However, I believe there is a really strong correlation between top jobs and having a MD/PhD. Of course these people are uniquely qualified in that they understand the basic science and it's patient applications, but I believe they bring one other skill to the table that most PhDs do not: They are 'people persons'. While many scientist naturally tend to ( and have been trained to ) work independently, MDs really are people centric in that they know how to communicate complex situations to people and make decisions in conjunction with other people. In my opinion this team-work and open communication approach combined with the scientific rigor explains why many MD/PhDs excell in leadership positions.
Now as for me, there is not a chance in the world I'm going to medical school. However, I believe getting an MBA would be an option for me. Not only will those two years spent with small study groups and team work hone my communication and interpersonal skills, but I believe the extra training in the field of general management and operations will aid me in effectively leading a big research unit. It seems to me that one can certainly pick these skills up on the job, but going from scientist to Exec. Director or up is a very long climb when you choose this traditional route. I see getting an MBA as a chance to obtain such a position more rapidly. I understand it is illusionistic to assume I will be offered such a position once my MBA is completed, but I believe I will have a realistic shot at obtaining a position that is more that of a manager rather than a scientist upon job market entree.

Does that make sense to you? Please let me know, I value all input very much!
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Re: Best B-School for Biotech MBA? [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2010, 20:37
ThomasD wrote:
Hi Dreamchaser,
I actually think you are absolutely right, those jobs are filled with scientist or MDs, often with MD/PhDs. So I have this theory about the MDs though, you will see them in high positions, but often not on the very top, whereas you will see PhDs there. However, I believe there is a really strong correlation between top jobs and having a MD/PhD. Of course these people are uniquely qualified in that they understand the basic science and it's patient applications, but I believe they bring one other skill to the table that most PhDs do not: They are 'people persons'. While many scientist naturally tend to ( and have been trained to ) work independently, MDs really are people centric in that they know how to communicate complex situations to people and make decisions in conjunction with other people. In my opinion this team-work and open communication approach combined with the scientific rigor explains why many MD/PhDs excell in leadership positions.
Now as for me, there is not a chance in the world I'm going to medical school. However, I believe getting an MBA would be an option for me. Not only will those two years spent with small study groups and team work hone my communication and interpersonal skills, but I believe the extra training in the field of general management and operations will aid me in effectively leading a big research unit. It seems to me that one can certainly pick these skills up on the job, but going from scientist to Exec. Director or up is a very long climb when you choose this traditional route. I see getting an MBA as a chance to obtain such a position more rapidly. I understand it is illusionistic to assume I will be offered such a position once my MBA is completed, but I believe I will have a realistic shot at obtaining a position that is more that of a manager rather than a scientist upon job market entree.

Does that make sense to you? Please let me know, I value all input very much!



Do you currently hold a PHD? If you do then I think it's a viable option, although an unconventional one. I agree that MDs tend to have better soft skills, but I think the key factor MDs or MD/PHDs dominate the R&D management is their breath of knowledge in the field. A traditional bioengineering or chemistry PHD tends to have very specialized knowledge in one particular niche area but lacks the others. So this little fact indicates what someone needs to get to the top of R&D management, a very solid and broad scientific experience. And that brings to my point that MBA is a nice to have, but you probably won't gain much of an advantage if your scientific experience is not strong (or long/broad enough). I agree that climbing the corporate ladder is frustrating, especially in the R&D world in this industry. But I would actually suggest considering a part-time MBA (or executive MBA depends on your level) if you want to stay in the R&D sphere. Full-time MBA is great for career changers and people in transitional business sector to advance their career, but in a field such as R&D management where industry experience is much more valued, full-time MBA might not be the best choice. I personally have not encountered any ED in R&D that comes directly from an MBA (this could be different at other companies though). So instead of taking time off for MBA, staying within the industry, branching out, getting both research and development experiences,working in different departments while getting more management skills through a decent parttime MBA program helps guiding your career upwards more rapidly.

Just my 2 cents based on my limited experience in my company, please take it with a grain of salt :)

One last thing, you might want to consider finding a few mentors who hold positions that you want to attain in the future and see what are the different routes to get there. I could be totally wrong, you just have to find a few examples to prove me wrong :)
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Re: Best B-School for Biotech MBA?   [#permalink] 31 Jan 2010, 20:37
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