Alumni Stories: Sarah Bhagat

Sarah Bhagat
Psychiatry Postdoc, 2017

Sofinnova Ventures
Menlo Park, California

How do you define success?

Career and professional success is finding something that constantly challenges you and pushes you out of your comfort zone. It is about taking professional risks and daring to do something new when you are ready for the next step. Ultimately, success is not about job titles nor the names of firms, but rather about being in a place that will develop you professionally and personally. It is about feeling passionately about your work and being excited to go to work every day (or at least most days).


How did you decide you wanted to go into this field?

I have always taken the time to explore new experiences and to get to know people who were outside of my field. I believe this mindset is critical because it enabled me to have a deeper understanding of which positions would be right for me in the future. Stanford provided me with both an extraordinary community of people and a wealth of experiences.

As a graduate student, I worked with my thesis advisor to develop new therapeutics for central nervous system (CNS) injury. As I became interested in the business side of company creation, I sought out a position as a Venture Fellow for Canaan Partners, a life sciences venture capital firm. There, I first learned about the world of venture capital and got hands-on experience learning about new therapeutic areas and analyzing early-stage biotech companies. At Stanford, as part of the Graduate School of Business Ignite Program, I helped create a start-up company, with a small team of people, and acquired key business fundamentals that I would need going forward. I soon realized that Venture combined my passion for science with the business of company creation. On one hand, I could think about new therapeutics for patients with unmet medical needs, while on the other, I could enable companies creating these therapeutics to become successful.


What are the top skills necessary for success in your field?

In general, venture capitalist firms have an entrepreneurial culture and are comprised of individuals who are passionate and smart. Their backgrounds are quite diverse as each individual brings his or her strong technical expertise – either in the biological sciences, medicinal chemistry, regulatory affairs, or operations, etc. – to the team.

For more on opportunities in this job sector, see Banking/Finance.