It’s extremely rare for a CEO and company owner to voluntarily step down to enable someone else to lead the organization because he or she feels that person is more equipped for the role. But that’s exactly what happened in Tracey Mullen’s case at Abveris, a leader in contract research antibody discovery. She has now been promoted from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Executive Officer.
Co-founder Garren Hilow, will now take over as the Chief Business Officer. He knew Tracey was the perfect fit for the CEO role because he wanted, “an elite scientist” to be leading his organization.
“As we move out of our startup phase and continue to stay at the forefront of antibody discovery, we feel that it makes sense to focus on leadership with more of a scientific background–and an EMBA background provides a nice bonus,” says Mullen.
Tracey has always had a strong passion for science and biology. She is a Chemical-Biological engineer from MIT who began her career in antibody discovery in an effort to combine all of her scientific passions into one role . “I started learning how the body fights illness and I thought it was fascinating. I decided to jump into a startup in the antibody space immediately after graduating college to learn even more, and I’ve been in antibody discovery since then.”
Abveris, a premier antibody discovery CRO, offers end-to-end mAb discovery services. The company operates in the biologic drug discovery space, specifically in antibody therapeutics for development. This includes two recent, ongoing campaigns for antibody discovery against the COVID-19 spike protein.
Tracey joined Abveris as Director of Antibody Discovery Operations in spring of 2018 after deciding to make a big career change and step away from the bench. “I ran into Garren–Abveris’ CEO at the time–just as he was looking to bring on an antibody scientist for a business role. I loved the position so much that it prompted me to jump into an MBA program.”
Quantic was Tracey’s choice because she could simultaneously pursue her career and educational goals. “I found the program to be incredibly valuable because I could stay in my field while fast-tracking my learning, as opposed to slowly learning it on my own or stepping away from industry to go back to school. The knowledge base I gained from the program helps me immensely in my new role as CEO.”
Tracey’s goal as CEO of the company is to help build out an all-inclusive discovery platform to deliver development-ready drug candidates in industry-leading timelines. “We currently fit nicely into the hit generation space of the overall drug discovery process. Over the next year or so, as we continue to build out our platform and bring on new capabilities, we aim to expand our workflows to enable lead ID and lead optimization as well. Essentially, I want us to be able to grow into a larger space within the industry as a whole.”
How would you define architecture? Steve Kredell, Principal Architect at McLeod Kredell Architects, has always believed that architecture is more than a simple building to shelter and protect its inhabitants. His innovative, sustainable and clean-lined designs have won countless awards. This year, he received global recognition when MKA was selected by Architectural Record as one of the top ten worldwide Design Vanguard firms.
Kredell’s passion for architecture started at a young age. His childhood walks with his father ignited his inspiration to look at the world differently. “He used to go out of his way to take me to look at what seemed to be very ordinary things,” says Kredell. “For instance, we looked at a lot of bridges when I was a kid. Through his eyes, I realized that there’s nothing “ordinary” or mundane about any human-made intervention. Those bridges weren’t just ways to get from one side to the other. They were beautiful in their own right, but, more importantly, they also enabled us to see the river, where we were going, and where we were coming from in a different way. I believe this is what can be wonderful about buildings. They can help us see the environment and the world in a different way.”
This passion continued to grow and Kredell began collaborating with John McLeod, in the mid-90s, after meeting in graduate architecture school at Virginia Tech. The two created McLeod Kredell Architects, which is now built around the practice, teaching and community engagement of architecture. They believe, “Architecture grows out of its particular place and time–yet at its best it also transcends those limits. In the end, architecture should be inspiring–for the client, the architect, the builder, the passerby.”
This belief especially rings true now that the majority of people are spending more time at home than ever before. “We all need to ask more from our buildings – especially given the amount of time we spend indoors by ourselves now,” says Kredell. “We need to look at how buildings can be regenerative and how they can contribute to not just serving a need to house and protect us, but as part of a global environmental solution. But, we cannot lose sight of the fact that our buildings aren’t merely machines. As our lives become dominated by screens and images, architecture has to continue to serve as a means to be connected to the natural world.”
Connecting to the natural world has been a big initiative for MKA. The two architects bring a team of Middlebury College students to Penobscot Bay, Maine, for a weeklong design-build class each summer that results in such useful community projects like composting stations. It also has an ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Addison County and Middlebury College, where McLeod teaches, to design and build houses in the county for those in need.
“We believe that anyone and anywhere deserves design,” says Kredell. “We believe in spreading the wealth of architecture through teaching, working with private clients, partnering with communities, and building alongside students and volunteers. Good design should be for everyone. That’s a trend that I sincerely believe has to continue.”
It was this passion for volunteering that actually led Kredell to pursue his MBA with Quantic. “My business partner and I started a non-profit program that brought community based designs to places and projects that typically wouldn’t have access to design. This opened my eyes to help me understand that we weren’t being as creative with the “design” of this new venture because we didn’t have an understanding of the nuances of a new business. I believed that Quantic’s MBA would allow me to be more creative and, really, to have a new experience and more well-rounded world view.”
As the world continues to change, so does the future and importance of architectural design. “We need to realize that architecture at its best allows us to touch the world in so many different ways. Just like those original bridges, architecture allows us to understand our world and nature in a more meaningful way. I think that’s more important than ever.”
The Quantic community has no doubt that McLeod Kredell Architects will continue to push architectural boundaries and their designs will continue to inspire others to look at the world in a different light.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau.
The ethos of pursuing one’s dreams and helping others along the way has been a guiding force for MBA Student Dr. Matt Young, M.D., J.D., CMQ, Esq.
Dr. Young certainly is realizing his dreams. He has already achieved national recognition in the fields of patient safety and healthcare quality, has been named a National Quality Scholar by the American College of Medical Quality, serves as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Patient Safety,has published in multiple medical texts, and, in his spare time, is a classically trained concert pianist.
His next adventure? He is now one of the trial lawyers at the nationally renowned law firm Ross Feller Casey LLP, where he represents patients, families, and their loved ones who have been catastrophically harmed by the healthcare system, a cause that is extremely close to his heart.
After Dr. Young graduated from Harvard Medical School, he became the eighteenth doctor in a family of doctors spanning three generations and two continents. However, after he lost his own father to medical malpractice, Dr. Young went to Harvard Law School, where he received his JD degree, and became an attorney and patient safety advocate. During his medical and legal training, he would learn that medical errors are one of the leading causes — if not the leading cause — of death and disability in the United States. “My father died as a result of medical malpractice, which has been shown to be one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality in our country. Now, I get to fight for so many families like my own who have suffered harm at the hands of our healthcare system,” he said.
Dr. Young describes Ross Feller Casey LLP as one of the best law firms in the country when it comes to representing plaintiffs in medical malpractice actions. “Their reputation, record-setting results, integrity, and team of talented lawyers and doctors make them an incredible powerhouse for plaintiffs. I look forward to helping catastrophically injured patients hold the healthcare system accountable. Ultimately, the pen is mightier than the scalpel.”
Dr. Young believes Quantic was definitely one of the nudges he needed to pursue this next chapter. “Plaintiffs’ work is in many ways an entrepreneurial endeavor. The Quantic MBA program gave me the courage and skills to make this daunting and dramatic career transition in the middle of a global pandemic. From a curricular perspective, it has great modules on key topics like entrepreneurship, marketing, and business strategy, the sunk cost fallacy, and calculating opportunity cost, which all factored into my decision to forsake my medical career and instead take care of patients in a very different but immensely important way.”
There was also an overflowing amount of Quantic peer support from his classmates. “I posted to our class’s Slack and asked my classmates for advice, and they gave me amazing advice and support about making this career change. I was getting real life and career advice from really accomplished people from three different continents and time zones all coming from diverse industries who had made multiple career changes themselves.”
Overall, Dr. Young has been thrilled with the energetic and entrepreneurial spirit of the Quantic experience. “I thought the most valuable education I would ever get would come from spending 11 years at Harvard and getting those three degrees from their college, med school, and law school, at the cost of being saddled with a hefty amount of student loan debt; but never did I think that one of the most invaluable and transformative experiences would come in the form of a free online MBA. Without a doubt, my Quantic MBA experience has been just as valuable as the education I received at Harvard. Studying with Quantic has been an incredibly invaluable and rewarding experience and has helped me formulate a new vision for myself on how best to leverage my medical and legal training to help others.”
We are so excited to see how Dr. Young’s next chapter unfolds as he brings his powerful personal narrative and unparalleled professional training into the courtroom to fight for families harmed by the healthcare system. We are sure that as he goes confidently in the direction of his dreams, he will help countless patients and families find justice and peace.
Bit Bio, the U.K.-based startup, only needed three weeks to raise $41.5 million in a Series A funding round that will be used to support the company’s goal to transition biology into engineering.
This synthetic biology team was founded by stem cell biologist and neurosurgeon, Mark Kotter, in 2016 to commercialize biotechnology that can reduce the cost and increase the production capacity for differentiated human cells. These cells can be used in targeted therapies and as a method to accelerate pharmaceutical drug discovery. Bit Bio’s goal is to be able to reproduce every human cell type, boosting basic research and enabling a new generation of cell therapies.
How can this type of cell therapy specifically help? By generating every cell type in the human body, this biotechnology will help unlock solutions for tackling cancer, autoimmune diseases and neurodegenerative disorders. Bit Bio’s approach will also help reduce expenses, aid drug discovery, and decrease the reliance on animal studies.
Quantic alum, Grant Belgard, is the Head of Bioinformatics at Bit Bio. The company’s website explains the centrality of computation: “Bit Bio represents the two fields: coding and biology that determine the identity of every human cell. Ultimately, bits are the building blocks of code, just as cells are the building blocks of life. This is reflective of what Bit Bio does: precise reprogramming of human stem cells.”
Belgard is also the Chief Scientist and CEO of The Bioinformatics CRO. The company was developed as the subject of his Capstone project in Quantic’s Executive MBA program. The flexibility of the curriculum enabled Belgard to learn, while simultaneously building his new company and pursuing his professional goals.
Now, Belgard’s goal for The Bioinformatics CRO is to streamline biomedical research worldwide. This represents a new breed of contract research organization that offers quality customized bioinformatics services to global biotechnology companies.
Biotechnology companies, like Bit Bio and The Bioinformatics CRO, will help merge biology and engineering and can help bring about long-awaited precision for stem cell research and help improve the lives of millions.
The Quantic community is thrilled for Grant and his colleagues. We can’t wait to see what he does next and how this combination of data science and biology will help code cells for the well-being of humanity.
Our Quantic community is always at the forefront of creative innovations and this has been especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. To spotlight these incredible efforts, we asked students and alumni to share stories about what they’re doing to #ChangeTheCourse and help their communities and industries during these unprecedented times.
Across the globe, Quantic students truly are making a difference. In their industries, they are developing apps to make curbside takeout possible for restaurants, enabling video conferences for grade school classrooms, and even inventing medical blankets to monitor patients’ vitals. They are helping their communities with fundraisers, virtual trivia nights, and connecting with peers to make sure hospital workers receive needed medical supplies.
Students and alumni even created the #kindoutcovid19 campaign where hundreds of leaders volunteered to give free career advice and share professional expertise. Acts like these are the silver linings throughout this pandemic. Not only are they lifting up individual communities, they are investing their time, energy, and expertise to help other professionals.
We are not alone in saying how much we appreciate all of these creative efforts to instill hope in a time of anxiety and uncertainty. The pandemic may not be over, but we will all continue to play our part to demonstrate the power of kindness, creativity, and innovation to make for a better, brighter future.
The coronavirus has a lot of us sitting around the house these days, scrolling through our phones or tablets. Skimming Instagram and Twitter have become common ways to pass the time, and while you may not think more screen time is the answer to the quarantine blues, some apps are proving to have benefits for the mind, body, and improving daily life. Quantic students have developed apps that help make dinner possible, ease anxiety, and get you back on track with your fitness goals during this crisis.
In direct response to the global COVID-19 crisis, Quantic MBA Alum, Albert Brown, and his team launched Kyoo Curbside. Kyoo has helped hundreds of businesses rapidly set up online ordering with no-contact, curbside pickup orders. Because of its popularity, it was fast-tracked by Square to become an official ordering partner and it is now the only free product listed. Merchants can set up their store in a snap. Items import automatically from their Square menu and they can accept orders right away. Customers can place orders on mobile, web, kiosk, or simply by text message. They receive instant text message updates to keep them moving through the queue and provide clear instructions to get their order fulfilled.
Staying home? Stay active! Quantic MBA Alum, Yash Jain, developed Hero Trainer to help us reach our fitness goals. The mobile app allows users to earn rewards in their favorite video games for exercising. A little walk around the house, or on the treadmill can earn people premium paid reward codes. The app tracks your steps on a walk or run. You earn points for each step and exchange those for reward codes to your favorite games.
We could all use a little mood boost to help cope with quarantine. EMBA Learner, Kamran Qamar, developed a clinically designed self-help app for depression and anxiety. Mooditude helps you identify and change your thinking using transformative Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). For lasting cure, you can build mood-lifting habits using goals and routines. When you feel stuck, go deep and find solutions to your specific problem within the dozens of psychiatrist developed programs.
It’s exciting and uplifting to see our students take action and find ways to stay productive, engaged, and mindful while life — in some respects — stands still. Here’s to those who #ChangeTheCourse.
When we think of blankets, we often think of cozy nights and hot chocolate. But what if they had the power to change the course of healthcare technology, especially during the coronavirus pandemic? Executive MBA student, Olivia Lin, had this exact same thought. She wanted to combine her strong tech background and desire to create textiles with a purpose. Olivia and fellow EMBA student, Edward Shim, soon launched their start-up, Studio 1 Labs, specializing in cutting-edge textile technology.
Their first product? A “smart” bed sheet that can be used in hospitals to monitor patients’ vitals. This has been crucial during the COVID-19 crisis because it continuously monitors for respiratory distress. The bed sheet detects respiratory patterns and transmits the data to a computer terminal for healthcare workers. With advanced data accuracy and analytics, this technology can also predict the onset of health decline and emergencies like apnea, heart attack and stroke.
Olivia is originally from Taipei, Taiwan and grew up in Canada. She studied psychology at the University of Toronto, and earned a Master’s and later a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the University of Waterloo. While studying psychology, Olivia was drawn to subject matter known as Human Factors, a field focused on the application of psychology in society.
When asked how and why she made the transition from psychology to starting a textile tech company, Olivia laughed — the transition even surprised her. She had a friend who worked in textile technology and saw how she combined fabric, art, and modern technology to create clothing with a purpose. This sparked Olivia’s interest and curiosity and she asked for her friend’s help in learning how to sew fabrics infused with tech.
While completing her Ph.D., Olivia met Edward, and her hobby soon turned into a business idea as the two began researching the commercialization of fabric sensor technology. They had identified a growing trend in healthcare of using everyday objects as tools for monitoring vitals and felt that textiles might just be the perfect canvas for such a device. This kind of application had particular relevance to Edward, who, when serving in the military, sustained an injury which left him experiencing respiratory issues. He was well aware of the processes in place for patients to have their breathing monitored and knew there had to be a better way. Both he and Olivia saw a need for improvement in this space and after enlisting the help of a few more colleagues, Studio 1 Labs was born.
“There was a lot of exploration and experimentation and finally we found an application that really works,” said Olivia.
Studio 1 Labs’ fabric sensor bed sheets are a glimpse at the future of health technology. These sensors monitor a patient’s respiration pattern, location, movement, and prolonged pressure. The patient does little more than lie in bed and his or her vitals are measured and reported. This is especially important for elderly patients, who are less able to adjust their lives for doctors to gather the data they need to make an informed diagnosis and treatment plan.
Beyond product development, Olivia had also recognized the need to increase her knowledge of business and strategy. This is when she decided to pursue an Executive MBA. With Studio 1 Labs having locations in both Canada and Taiwan, Olivia was constantly traveling and Quantic’s mobile-first design enabled her to learn no matter where she was.
“Being an entrepreneur, I felt like I had gaps in my knowledge and I couldn’t keep pace in conversations with executives and potential partners to the degree I needed to. I wanted more of the knowledge that would enable me to carry on and lead these conversations.” said Olivia.
Olivia’s impressive efforts in creating this business have not gone unrecognized. She was featured by Girls in Tech Taiwan 40 Under 40 and Studio 1 Labs won the Markham Board of Trade Aspire Startup Award in 2018. Outside of being the Executive Director of Studio 1 Labs, Olivia was a mentor for the City of Waterloo’s initiative, Girls in STEAM, a program that promoted tech and other STEAM careers to local girls to spark their interest at a young age. Olivia now lives in Taiwan, as she continues her rewarding (and challenging) entrepreneurial journey and helps to continue to #ChangeTheCourse of healthcare technology.
South32 Connectivity & Cyber Security Program Manager, Barbara Meyer knew she wanted to earn her MBA. Being a working mom, she needed a program that would fit into her busy schedule. Here is a note on her Quantic experience, why she believes all moms can achieve their professional goals, break down stereotypes, and become rockstar role models for their children:
Moms should feel welcome in MBA programs and not feel held back because child-bearing years and MBA programs coincide. Furthermore, moms should not be left having to choose between a family and furthering a career, through study. Although business schools have been encouraging more women to join master’s programs, they still have not reached gender parity.
As a single mother of a toddler, I found myself in the middle of this dilemma. I realised that in supporting my daughter’s growth as an independent, strong, educated woman, I needed to be a role model for her. I needed to be the best version of myself and put myself in a position to advance my professional career. The tricky part was how to accomplish this without feeling like I was relinquishing responsibility and missing precious time with my daughter.
As an IT program and project manager, I often thought that an MBA might provide me with a well rounded business foundation, which might be the next step to advance my career. However, everything I knew about traditional MBA courses seemed to be daunting: excessive cost, fixed on-site lectures or block periods, lengthy course durations, and sacrifices beyond my appetite. This was true until I came across an online invitation to an MBA with Quantic.
I was hooked. Everything I hoped to have in a MBA course was packaged into the Executive MBA online offering: it was not only flexible, mobile and affordable, but also pedagogically sound and ensured active student participation (the first 11 years of my career were spent as a STEM teacher), a global network of alumni, and best of all, it could be completed in 13 months.
In the past eight months of studying, I found that the pace and schedule were manageable, while balancing my everyday life. I am very privileged to have flexible working hours and lots of support from my employer, South32. With the mobile application available 24/7, I used every spare five minutes to complete a learning unit. This happened during lunch time, sitting somewhere waiting in a queue, 15 minutes after I woke up or went to bed, and especially the time at night when the little one would wake up and I couldn’t fall back to sleep (don’t all moms know this midnight joy?). Thus far, it has been an enjoyable, highly interesting journey and well worth the effort. Even in this short time, I have been able to incorporate my learning into my day job and have applied some of the principles to make innovative changes.
Were there difficult times? Yes, especially during the time that we were both sick. Are the exams and assignments challenging? Yes, you must put in extra effort during exam week. Is the Quantic staff helpful and supportive? For sure, they know that students are human, life happens, and that there is always a plan to get back on schedule.
The most pleasantly unexpected experience with my Executive MBA was during one of my exams, as highlighted in an email I wrote:
“I wanted to share with you a precious moment and why I love the format of the Quantic EMBA. I have been working diligently during the hours that my daughter is asleep (because I do not want to impact the little time we have during the day) and thus far, it has worked very well. I try to do most of my exams early in the morning, before she wakes up. At 5:15am, I settled in behind my machine, ready to take on the Operations and Project Management exam. Instead of her waking up as normal around 7am, she woke at 5:30am. Needless to say, I had a curious, happy-to-be-alive, wanting-to-be-with-mommy, toddler. I almost had a panic attack but decided to make the most of the situation.
As she played, I finished my exam through all the questions, requests and played along. The picture says it all. Although it took a little longer, the end result was a whopping 93% and a very happy little girl. I can’t think of a better result :-).
I hope that it can be an encouragement to more mothers out there; it is possible to complete the Quantic EMBA, tend to your family and work full-time. Thank you again Quantic for enabling continuous studies and making it possible to have fun doing it.”
It is my hope that more women will join the increasing network of MBA alumni. Quantic has gone the extra mile to make moms feel welcome in the Executive MBA program. Quantic has designed their Executive MBA program in such a way that a mom is not trapped in the compromises of choosing between career advancement, further studies and raising a family. Moms, let’s go forth to equip ourselves for professional success, model an example for our children, and help to break down barriers and stereotypes with an Executive MBA.
In today’s job market, having a competitive resume means having solid work experience and degrees from top educational institutions. However, there comes a time when many people are forced to choose between continuing their studies or adding to their work experience in order to advance their careers. Fortunately, Quantic’s mobile-friendly MBA allows students to do it all.
Alumnus Patrick Glauner is a perfect example of this. While he was earning his MBA, Patrick was also working towards his PhD in computer science.
Patrick graduated as Valedictorian from Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences in 2012, where he earned his B.Sc. in computer science. At that time, he was hired by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, where he worked for 3 years. He then went on to earn his M.Sc. in machine learning from Imperial College London in 2015 and his PhD in computer science from the University of Luxembourg in 2019. He first became interested in computer science as a kid, and taught himself how to program, and later, spent time in high school reading books about data structures and algorithms.
While he was in the final year of his PhD studies, Patrick saw that the depth and focus of the degree could lead to a narrow career trajectory and he was unsure if being a specialist was right for him. That’s when he decided that he wanted to earn his MBA — to gain knowledge that would position him to move into management roles where he would oversee cross-functional teams and fast-forward through speed bumps slowing others down. With this, he chose to enter the workforce and secured a management job with a major mechanical engineering company, Krones.
“Having done the MBA was certainly very helpful from finishing the PhD and to going into management in a major company,” said Patrick. He went on to say, “I felt that I was only able to do that so quickly because I had done the MBA in addition to my technical training.”
When Patrick was able to complete his PhD, he became a full professor of artificial intelligence at Deggendorf Institute of Technology in Germany at the young age of 30. He became a professor after discovering an affinity for teaching while working as an adjunct lecturer. However, he witnessed other professors’ careers slowing down at points when real world work experience became essential to have in order to teach certain topics. He decided that continuing his work in artificial intelligence was vital to being at the top of his game as a professor.
“When I knew I wanted to do a professorship, I knew I wanted to do something on the side that kept me linked to the real world. I wanted to work with companies and not just write papers,” said Patrick.
Patrick started his own artificial intelligence consulting company, skyrocket.ai, with the purpose of teaching company executives about artificial intelligence and helping them develop strategies to implement it effectively. As an expert on AI technology, Patrick believes that many small to mid-size companies in almost any industry could benefit greatly if AI is implemented properly. He also believes that if companies don’t invest in AI, then they could very well be out of the market within the next 10 years.
However, Patrick also said that AI could have negative effects for individuals. He brought up the dilemma that companies face when deciding to use AI or a human.
“We’ve seen automation for a long time. But what had happened in the past is that we automated repetitive tasks,” said Patrick. “Humans are great at making very different decisions all day long, but it is also very slow. AI enables us to automate that kind of work.”
When Patrick had just started his company, he quickly secured a major client. The board of a top-30 company in Germany with over a 100,000 employees hired his company to put on a workshop about AI to help them develop strategies and implement them. Starting a business is no small feat, and having a major company be one of your first clients is a testament to Patrick’s expertise. But how did Patrick manage to do all this so quickly?
“One of the things that proved to be very helpful was that I had experience in the industry and that I’ve worked in consulting before. It made it very easy to start my own business because I had a network, the skills and expertise, and I knew how to sell things,” said Patrick.
In addition, his newly acquired knowledge from Quantic’s MBA was beneficial, as it gave reliable support for his already acquired industry experience. Patrick’s advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs? Have a clear business plan and make sure that you build trust with other businesses. Patrick stressed the importance of prior work experience and how that plays into building credibility and a positive reputation. His advice once again demonstrates the importance of the intersection of education and extensive work experience.
Patrick has published many papers and articles from his extensive research in academia. A major study on AI by McKinsey cited his research, and a journalist from New Scientist interviewed him about his AI technology research. However, when asked about what accomplishments he’s most proud of, Patrick immediately responded that the recent birth of his child is his crowning achievement. Congrats to Patrick and his wife, a fellow Quantic student, on their new baby!
From art teacher to Facebook partner, Ian stresses the importance of finding your “common thread”
Something that most (if not all) Quantic students have in common is the desire to learn. Students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, with interests and expertise in everything from biotechnology, investment banking, and engineering, to start-ups, non-profits, and more. Some of these students, often with an insatiable sense of curiosity, wish to earn a degree in business so that they can transition into a new field. Moving from one industry to another can be difficult, but it goes smoother with the right mindset and guidance. This is the lesson that Quantic Executive MBA student Ian Saville learned and mastered.
Ian has changed career courses multiple times. In high school, he wanted to become a priest, but was also interested in math and physics. So upon entering his freshman year in college, he was set to double major in physics and religion at The University of the South. But, ever in search of a challenge, Ian opted for a major that pushed him out of his comfort zone: art. He realized that math and physics had answers that were too defined. He was drawn to art because there aren’t right or wrong answers, and that openness left room for him to problem solve and figure things out on his own. Upon this realization, he switched majors and completed his B.A. in studio art, and then earned his M.A. in Art Education from Columbia University.
“I think a lot of art making is about problem solving, coming up with unique expressions and novel ideas to address issues,” said Ian. “It’s challenging, and I like challenges.”
Problem solving is a big deal for Ian. It is something that has guided his career, influencing the various jobs he’s pursued. After college, Ian became a middle school art teacher in New York City because he felt it would help promote kids’ ability to problem solve and think critically. While he was passionate about educating kids, he realized that being a teacher wasn’t his true calling.
Ian then went on to become a career coach. He said that he wanted to help people reach that moment where they realize their potential and what they really want to be doing. He believes that if you can think about the underlying concept of why you are passionate about something, then you can find clarity in what you want to do. While he preached this concept to others, Ian realized that he needed to do this himself.
Ian needed to make a change — a big one. The thought of moving into a new industry can be an anxiety-inducing endeavor; there’s always the risk that what you think you want to do, won’t actually pan out in reality. It’s cause for some serious self-discovery and Ian heeded the call. He decided to meet with a mentor of his to find clarity.
Ian’s mentor helped him recognize that there was one thing connecting all his jobs and interests — a desire to help people grow. Ian originally wanted to be a priest to help people, he became an art teacher to help kids, and he was a career coach to help people improve their lives. This commonality was the beacon Ian needed to figure out his next step.
“I think there’s something about career transitions and pivots where it feels really daunting, but once you understand what that common thread of your work is, it actually makes it a lot easier,” said Ian. “But you really have to do the work and reflect on it to get there.”
This realization may sound simple, but it is not easy to come to. It takes a great deal of patience and focus to truly take an objective look at yourself and figure out your strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Ian did not simply snap his fingers and figure it out.
“It took a lot of screwups,” said Ian. “I had a lot of really bad interviews in that process. It’s not like an overnight ‘aha.’”
Even though Ian had figured out what he wanted to do, he struggled to convey his industry-hopping in a way that was attractive to employers. Ian realized that he had been going about it all wrong, and that he was trying to hide and downplay his teaching experience instead of using it as a strength. He figured out that the main idea of teaching is “taking abstract concepts and turning them concrete.” By reframing his experience in this light, he discovered that his work had quite a few parallels to the tech industry.
It was in this reframing that Ian was able to land a job at Facebook, where he started as a Knowledge Manager before his current position as a Learning and Development Partner. Even at Facebook, Ian continues this idea of improving the way people figure out what’s important, out of an abundance of unnecessary junk, and builds knowledge pipelines to streamline the essential information.
“When we think about learning and development, there’s the need for learning and there’s the solution,” said Ian. “If we could reduce the amount of time between the need and the solution, then we are doing the right work.”
If you’ve been following this blog, you might sense a theme in the people we’ve profiled for Student Spotlights — they are all natural leaders. Ian is no different. In his career advising, he worked with executive-level clientele and learned a great deal about leadership. He believes that the key to being a good leader is consistency; consistent in how they delegate, ask questions, and create inclusive environments where everyone’s voice can be heard. Ian says that leaders need to think about the people they are leading and put themselves in their shoes.
“Be really empathetic to the people you are trying to empower or influence,” said Ian. “What do they want? What’s in it for them? Why should they care about your perspective?”
Ian also believes that good leaders need to be conscious of what they do and don’t know. It is important to reflect on themselves and think about where they have weaknesses and who under them has strengths in those areas.
“Great leaders have the awareness of knowing what they don’t know and can bring in others quickly to fill the gaps,” said Ian. “A bad leader is someone who holds all of the pieces to themselves and feel as though they need to be in control all of the time.”
Outside of advising others and his work at Facebook, Ian stays occupied by looking for other problems that need solving — in one instance, finding a better way for kids to learn Chinese. So, he and his wife created a children’s music book that teaches Chinese. The idea for the book came from Ian’s wife, Peipei, who was born in Shanghai. She wanted their son to learn the language but they soon realized that it was difficult to find books that teach young children Chinese. Peipei and Ian accepted the challenge and recently published the book, Bao Bao Learns Chinese.
During this process, Ian’s knack (or perhaps, penchant) for problem solving came into play when he and his wife had to figure out a business plan, despite neither of them running a business before. While Peipei was the one who actually created the book, Ian supported her with the business aspects. Even though Ian was a novice in this arena, the business parts of launching this venture went smoothly, thanks to the knowledge he gained in Quantic’s Executive MBA program. Ian said that Quantic helped with the awareness of business principles and decision making needed for the success of the book. Ian and Peipei, who works at Facebook as well, also used their combined knowledge of digital marketing to help launch the book.
Ian leveraging what he learned in Quantic to publish a book is something that reflects Quantic students as a whole — they are driven, self-motivated people who aren’t afraid to tackle new challenges. These students actively seek new opportunities, such as continued learning and switching industries, in their quest to reach their true potential. While transitioning to a new industry may seem scary and difficult, Ian’s talent for navigating complexities and the discovery of his “common thread” allowed him to find his dream job. It’s a story we can all learn from and ask ourselves as we broach any major career change — what’s my common thread?