Before coming to SOM, I was working as director of development at a cancer research foundation. Our primary goal was to help cure a rare blood disease. Our founder had an MBA and was a mentor to me. I saw how she was able to revolutionize the process of disease research by focusing on big data aggregation, bringing collaborative networks together, driving treatments rapidly into the clinic, and then working with industry players including big pharma. Healthcare is a field that’s being rapidly disrupted by technology and by innovation. It’s ripe for leaders who can come in and transform how care is being delivered. I came to Yale SOM to learn how tools like venture capital, accounting, and financial modeling can help us achieve the highest outcomes for patients.
I knew coming to Yale that the faculty and the courses would be world-class and that the knowledge learned in the classroom would be exactly what I signed up for. But what surprised me was how much I learned from my classmates, from each of their unique, real-world business situations. My classmates come from all over the world, and we learn not just from each other’s professional experiences, but from our collective global experiences as well. I have classmates from Germany, Norway, and Guatemala, along with some from California and Texas. We all unite on the weekends we have classes, coming together from different parts of the world.
I took a class on venture capital and became fascinated with the concept. I learned all I could about it. I met a classmate who’s in the asset management focus area, and we started exploring how we could apply venture capital methodologies to disease research. We did an independent study to create a model, working with professors who are venture capital experts. During this process, I met someone from a research organization who had heard about our work, and who was already using venture capital models and calling it “venture philanthropy.”
The concept is that you take patients’ dollars and donations and you leverage their power toward having a seat at the table in the drug development process. You apply venture capital investing. You go to companies and academic medical centers, and you negotiate equity or shares in the company or warrants to the stocks, and those returns, rather than going back to investors, go back to the disease research foundation to fund research, and the cycle continues until we cure the disease.
I was soon offered the role of CEO of this organization. So, to say that SOM has been transformational for me would be an understatement. I was able, within my first year and a half in the executive MBA program to get my absolute dream job, which is taking business acumen and skillsets and applying them to something that I’ve been passionate about my whole life: curing disease.