Biotech MBA course
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My Immersion into Biotech
Engineers, scientists and MBAs tackle live case studies presented by executives

Our team faced a difficult situation: Our biotechnology company’s flagship product failed in clinical trials.

What once appeared to be a promising advance in treating a deadly form of lung cancer now lies in cold storage, and lost are the investments of time and money for developing the drug. The CEO has tasked us with determining a path forward for our firm.

I’ve teamed up with a biomedical engineer and a scientist with a Ph.D. To solve this problem, we had to lean on each other’s areas of expertise.

Most MBA programs leverage cases to help bring texture to business concepts, but the Immersion program brings cases to life and lets you experience them.

Sounds like an interesting situation, doesn’t it?

This really happened to me—not in my professional career, but as part of my coursework in the UC Davis Graduate School of Management Biotechnology Industry Immersion program.

This program is part of a novel approach to business education—one that emphasizes pragmatism and application over recitation or theory. The situation was real, too, presented to our class by senior a executive from the biotech company where it occurred.

Lonnie Bookbinder

Our class was divided into small teams, and each had to prepare and present on real-world situations posed by executives, twice a week. The approaches and answers were varied and valuable, but even more insightful were the feedback and comments from the executives who had lived the events. Most MBA programs leverage cases to help bring texture to business concepts, but the Immersion program brings cases to life and lets you experience them.

The ability to engage with executives who have lived through the cases they teach has given me nuanced insights and forged connections that will pay dividends for the rest of my career.

The Graduate School of Management offers four Immersion programs, each based on specific strengths of UC Davis. Biotechnology, the course I took, covers a wide range of topics spanning the lifecycle and functions of such firms.

Each week, our working team dealt with clinical development and commercialization situations, strategies for early and later stage financing, intellectual property and strategic partnerships, just to name a few. The executive speakers hailed from companies large and small, established industry leaders and aspiring pharma and biotech startups.

The Immersions are also interdisciplinary, which means they bring together MBA candidates as well as graduate students from other programs at UC Davis. The engineer and the scientist on my team were doctoral candidates looking to move into industry. I learned a tremendous amount working with them, as well as how to work better with others from very different disciplines with varying approaches and points of view. It is about as true to life an experience as you can get.

As a former management consultant, I wrestled with the return on investment of earning an MBA. The real-world experience of the Immersion program was a big selling point for me, and I am happy to say that so far it has exceeded my expectations. The ability to engage with executives who have lived through the cases they teach has given me nuanced insights and forged connections that will pay dividends for the rest of my career.