MBS Alumni Sail Forward

By: Sue Weston

MBS alumni gathered at the Rutgers Club on October 17th for their 2nd Annual Alumni Event. Recent alumni were joined by two alumni from the first graduating class in 2012. This event was an opportunity for alumni to connect whether they shared the same concentrations, were in a business class together, or are just family joined through the MBS experience. This year, attendees doubled in size with close to 50 MBS Alumni. The evening began with Abbe Rosenthal, the MBS head of corporate partnerships, student employment, alumni relations, and professional development, sharing some MBS updates with the room. She shared how the MBS will be launching three new online programs in 2019 including Personal Care Science (PCS), Global Food Technology (GFT), and User Experience Design (UXD). 

Over the past year, the new MBS Alumni Association formed four committees (Professional Development, Communication, Online Programming, and On-Campus Programming). Abbe introduced the committee chairs to share their visions. The Online Programming Committee will focus on developing online events via GoToMeeting, Skype or other platforms to bring the alumni together and forward. The Communication Committee will create both an MBS Alumni directory and a biannual or annual newsletter. The On-Campus Programming Committee will provide social events to bring not only alumni together but include their families such as picnics, mud runs, softball games, and other engaging personal and professional gatherings. Narayan Escolin, a very active MBS Alumni and member of the On-Campus Programming Committee, shared some statistics with the room based on a survey conducted over the summer. Sixty-four percent (64%) of alumni expressed interest in professional development programs focusing primarily on leadership, teamwork and negotiation skills. Also, 81% volunteered to be student mentors or industry panelists. 

Abbe then introduced the guest speaker, Dr. William Mann, former CEO & President of Helsinn Therapeutics. He initially wanted to work in forestry but quickly learned that he was color blind, which ended his career in forestry before it began. However, his passion for photosynthesis led him to study biochemistry and into a rewarding career in healthcare. He began his pharmaceutical career at Novartis, which was where he met our very own Dr. Matt Sills, MBS Professor and Life Sciences Advisor. The MBS Motto is ‘Steer Your Own Ship,’ and Dr. Mann expressed how he shares this view and steered his own ship. Beginning as a scientist, Bill pivoted into corporate development, and eventually landed the top role as CEO. Bill’s message was direct and honest – “understand where you are, where you want to go, follow your passion and gain the qualifications to succeed.” He explained that corporate upheaval and turmoil are opportunities to learn and grow. He emphasized that finding good mentors along the way helped keep him stay on track and open doors. His journey shows how being agile and open to career changes led to new and exciting opportunities. He also emphasized the importance of risk-taking even when one is unsure they can be successful. Bill stressed the importance of networking, and both finding great mentors and being a great mentor. “Find your own voice, share your opinion, and if you get knocked down, get up again and keep moving,” Bill said. He was a great example of how science truly does meet business. He closed by adding that if the MBS program existed when he was searching for a graduate program, he would have applied. The alumni truly enjoyed hearing his story.

The evening ended with more connecting and networking. MBS car magnets were given out to all attendees, and ten lucky alumni won MBS tee shirts in a raffle. It was a great sneak peek to what’s ahead for the MBS Alumni in 2019.