Alumni Stories: Suraj Pradhan
Neuroscience PhD, 2014
Senior Manager, Competitive Intelligence
San Rafael, California
How do you define career and professional success?
I believe the ideal career fulfills four basic requirements: It enables you to follow your passion; it gives you joy and a sense of fulfillment in doing good work; it offers financial rewards; and it allows you to make a positive impact in the world, such as what I’m doing at BioMarin, a company that develops and commercializes biopharmaceuticals for rare genetic diseases.
How did you decide to enter the field of biotech consulting?
While I was a PhD graduate student in Neuroscience at Stanford, I was exposed to the biotech business and immediately found that I liked its fast pace and collaborative nature. I liked seeing the tangible results of discovery and that actual treatments were being developed to help patients. Soon after, I decided to pursue an internship at Genentech in order to learn more about what it would be like to have a non-research role in industry. The internship convinced me that I wanted to pursue a position in competitive intelligence – an area that blends scientific knowledge with commercial skills. Initially, I worked at a boutique biotech consulting firm, in order to develop commercial skills, before joining the CI team at BioMarin.
How did your Stanford training prepare you for your career of choice?
The skills I acquired at Stanford during my graduate studies are vital to my role in industry. First, I have a fundamental understanding of the science and can recognize the strengths and limitations of drugs in development. Second, I am able to synthesize and draw conclusions from vast amounts of data and information. I can then structure my arguments, present my insights and recommendations to different audiences, and later defend my recommendations. Communicating your ideas is essential and contributes greatly towards achieving your goals.
How should current trainees make the most of BioSci Careers’ services?
Make sure to invest time in career development early so that you are able to make an informed decision when choosing a career. I think the two most important resources to use are BioSci Careers’ courses and internship opportunities.
For more on opportunities in this job sector, see Biotechnology/Medical Device Research