Yes you can! Develop from something as technical as a statistician to, say, a strategic consulting director. Like Silvia Garcia Codony (See her LinkedIn profile).
Silvia graduated from her Executive MBA back in 2007 and has vast experience in the pharmaceuticals industry and with medical devices. Having studied Mathematics, she had started her career as a Biostatistician but then moved on to do project management, set up and managed clinical research and gained broad management experience in a startup.
For Silvia, an MBA “cannot do any miracles for you” but it is a gate opener to new positions. As many other alumni, she emphasizes that such a program at the end really is what you make out of it. For her, there was not an immediate drastic change in career before and after the program, but her investment to broaden and expand her functional skills enabled her to move up further. “I do not think it would have been possible without the MBA”.
Equally, she stresses the importance of developing your network during your studies. Taking into account that the pharmaceutical industry has gone through major restructuring in the recent years, it is interesting to see how she has managed to develop her career that progressively and successfully. And indeed, she shares with us, that her career moves were made possible only through contacts, people who knew her and could recommend her. But you usually do not have the most relevant contacts right away; you need to actively develop your network into your areas of interest, work through referrals and industry associations. “It took me a long time”, she admits when she talks about how she got a job in a new area.
Recruiting new talent, Silvia herself was sometimes in charge of choosing between two (or more) MBAs applying for the same position. It is hard to see what they can offer that is outstanding. “You need to see people and what they can do, because a piece of paper does not really mean anything.“ Clearly, she agrees, that internships are the most ideal way to do so. But just anyone who could tell her about one of the candidates would always be of great influence in making a decision.
Silvia also confirmed my perception of the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry as one with generally high barriers to entry for people without life sciences background. It seems almost impossible to get into certain areas without any relevant experience. Career changers are therefore well advised to look for functional areas similar to their previous ones.
Silvia is now based in greater New York area. I was delighted to see her passion when talking about developing younger and less experienced professionals. She has been active in mentoring for several years and finds this exchange most fulfilling. Despite her busy schedule and the breadth of her existing responsibilities, she is open to any specific requests where she might be of help.