“It gave me the commercial exposure and the financial proficiency I needed.”

As a pharmacist working as a Senior Project Data Manager in Clinical R&D for a biotech company, an EMBA wasn’t a natural choice of education for Supratim Chakraborty. But with his sights firmly set on a more strategic role in the future, he was determined to realise his ambitions for financial proficiency, even though it meant self-funding.

“I work for a company called Genmab. It’s a Danish Biotech company which specializes in the creation and development of cancer treatments. My job is to oversee R&D projects – I am responsible for the management and analytics of clinical data for the clinical development programs. Because we’re a medium-sized biotech we often work with multiple vendors and large pharma companies, so a big part of what I do is external stakeholder management and alliance management.

“I have been in the business for 16 years, working in India, Australia and travelling to US and UK frequently, managing projects and teams all over the world. It’s a far cry from where I was born, in Darjeeling, at the foothills of the Himalayas.”

The right programme

“I liked my time in London so much that I considered enrolling into Warwick or City London for my MBA. But then came COVID. My home (for last 10 years) is Copenhagen where I live with my wife and 5-year-old daughter, so studying close-by became an important factor. I chose the Executive MBA because I had many years of experience and needed to continue working throughout the programme. The triple accreditation, high global rankings and the reputation of the programme were also the deciding factors.

“In my career as a pharmacist I have mostly worked in R&D functions. I have worked in various drug development projects and programs, but I was interested in the commercial, financial and business aspects. I thought getting a business management degree would help me to understand better and give me the credentials that would put me in the right place. I’m hoping my future roles could be in business development/commercial innovation or global alliance management or strategy.”

The benefit of experience

“When compared to EMBA programmes in the US or the UK, in Scandinavia the course seems to be more inclusive of people in their late 30s and above. But the point of the executive level qualification is the experience the participants bring to the classroom. One of the important criteria for selection is that you need enough experience to sit in the classroom and contribute to the discussions.

“Many of my classmates belong to the C-suite (CEO, CFO, COO) and VP level – there is so much to learn by interacting with executives at these levels.

“I am completely self-funded as my company was, at that time, relatively small and the benefits of the study were not obvious to senior management. I do however benefit from my manager’s support, she understood wholeheartedly what I want to achieve through studying for an MBA and has granted me a flexible work schedule to do it. Something that is essential for success.”

A big investment

“The decision to self-fund is a big one and it’s something that has taken a lot of consideration. I am confident that this financial investment will pay off in the next three to four years. I am gaining plenty of invaluable knowledge around leadership, innovation, strategy and sustainability. I did a concentration in entrepreneurship to try to develop that mindset. I’ve learned how to come up with a business model and make ideas work, going out and securing funds/private equity, approaching venture capitalists and other things that will be useful in the future. “

A biotech business toolkit

“With my experience, background, business education credentials and the additional bonus of the entrepreneurial mindset I feel I’m in a great position.

“We’ve gone out on company visits, spoken with CEOs and learnt about their driving force and the journey of setting up a start-up. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot. We had investors listening to our pitch and giving us feedback. In the concentration, we worked with small companies, helping them to develop their platform strategy to grow their business and gain a foothold in the Scandinavian/global market. I could have never gained this experience without this EMBA programme. In the last two or three months I’ve transformed my thinking and outlook. I am sure I can take this forward to realise my future aspirations.”

Networking, Commercial and financial exposure

“One of the draws of the CBS programme was the networking opportunities I would have in this region as well as further afield – there are about 13 nationalities on the course. It’s been fantastic to learn about the different cultures and the different industries too – really eye opening.

“And I’m building up a good understanding and knowledge of the commercial aspects of a business/company. The new theories and models introduced in class, and conversations with my peers, have opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and solving problems. I get to sit with guys with a financial background while solving problems e.g., calculating the value of a company. I can see what are the important considerations while looking at the financial statements, I can see what I would have missed otherwise.”

Feedback opportunity

“I’m proud to have been invited to contribute to the study board as a student representative, giving me the opportunity to provide feedback on issues with the course and contribute to the community in a meaningful way. We meet with the board twice a year in an extended meeting – discussions can be about issues related to the MBA courses but generally centre on the value being brought by the course and improvements that could be made.

“Right now, my focus is on finishing the course. I am one year through my two years and no matter the ups and downs I’m trying to keep that end goal in mind. I am working towards graduation so I can begin to recoup my investment and start to map out my future, something which I am feeling very positive about.”

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