Brainy geneticist Eashwar Subramanian has worked on a vaccine for Anthrax, discovered two new genes in the common fruit fly, and researched nanotechnology, so why did he decide to do an MBA?
Eashwar found an MBA invaluable when he made the move from the research lab to helping clients in the business world. Here he highlights opportunities for MBAs with science backgrounds after business school.
Eashwar, 31, is currently a Program Manager for Hewlett Packard’s Life Sciences division. He gained his MBA in 2009 from Edith Cowan University. He was born in Chennai, India and got his Bachelors and Masters in Molecular and Human Genetics from Banaras Hindu University, one of the oldest Universities in India.
He then followed this up with a post-graduate diploma in Modern Biology, Biophysics and Biotechnology at the Hungarian Academy of Life Sciences. There, he was the recipient of a fellowship from the Academy and from the UK's prestigious Wellcome Trust.
While at university, Eashwar worked on a vaccine for Anthrax and as a researcher at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in India he discovered two genes and their role in the olfactory pathway of the Drosophila Melanogaster (fruit fly).
He also worked on a project to determine the role of cell cycle checkpoints in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or baker's yeast, in Hungary. An important function of cell cycle check points is to check for DNA damage.
Despite making significant breakthroughs in the world of science, Eashwar was keen to explore the business side of Life Sciences:“I wanted to gain a lot more work experience outside the lab because people in India consider that more important."
He was advised to get an MBA if he wanted to apply his scientific knowledge in the business world: "I saw an advert for the Edith Cowan MBA in the newspaper and applied for it,” he said.
Moving from science to business was tough. Eashwar started the one-year course in 2008, and said he got through it with support from family and friends. He even wrote a paper a paper on the social and ethical implications of nanobiotechnology.
He published papers on emerging trends in nanobiotech and was invited by the University of Washington to present the paper to the Society of Nanotechnology. He credits his ability to structure his thoughts and clearly present business opportunities to his MBA training: “The MBA gave me an appreciation of the most fertile areas of research and growth in nanotechnology”, he said.
After working as a senior healthcare analyst at global consulting firm Frost and Sullivan, Eashwar received an offer from Hewlett Packard in 2010. His job is to act as an internal consultant for HP’s strategy team, based in Bangalore. His focus is on developing innovative tech solutions and strategies for clients in the Life Sciences industry.
Eashwar’s advice to scientists who want to move to the business side of the industry is to explore careers creatively. “If you look around carefully there are so many ways that technology can improve peoples' lives. In my job I can easily spot opportunities for personalized medicine in emerging markets, with projects focused on diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. There is also a need to collect and store data for future analysis.”
He also advises scientists to publish in reputable journals if they can, as this will create opportunities with top firms.
According to Eashwar, the toughest challenges facing the life sciences industry are the production of cost-effective drugs and the ability of diagnosticians to use technology effectively. Areas where MBAs with science backgrounds can swoop in and create change are marketing, manufacturing and strategy: “There is a lot of scope for MBAs to create an impact”, he said.
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