Leading in Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Consulting
When Stephen Chang, MBS ’08, took his first position after graduating from Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), he expected to be a consultant to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries for only a year or two. But he never left, rising to a leadership position as managing director at inventiv Health Consulting in the San Francisco Bay Area.
“I’d thought I’d go over to the client side, but I found I really loved consulting,” says Chang, who earned a B.S. in bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, and worked as a research assistant at The Scripps Research Institute for three years before enrolling at KGI. “I’m always learning new things, and I’ve had the privilege of growing with the firm.”
Chang started as an analyst and associate consultant whose role primarily involved conducting market research and developing PowerPoint slides. But he was included in every client meeting, enabling him to steadily increase his industry knowledge and responsibilities.
Today, he is a coach and mentor to others beginning at the firm. A sizable number of those who have arrived as consultants since Chang are also KGI graduates. He says, “About 25 to 30 KGI graduates have walked through the halls of the company. We currently have about four or five alumni here. We actively recruit from KGI because of the nature and profile of the students. They have the business acumen and life science experience we want.”
Chang recalls that his Team Master’s Project (TMP) at KGI had given him a sense of what is involved in consulting before he entered the field, as did the internship he completed at Tunnell Consulting while a student. Chang notes,
The TMP was great. Having that exposure, knowing the steps and processes to take, gave me the framework for consulting.
Dean of Applied Life Sciences Steven Casper, who taught courses on both the bioscience industries and international business when Chang attended KGI, remembers him as a student whose interpersonal communication skills stood out. Casper says, “He was really good at working with people, so I’m not surprised that he made it in consulting. He’s exceptional in that he made it so far so fast.”
At inVentiv Health Consulting, Chang works with clients that range from small startups to the top 20 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, specializing in the oncology, cardiology, dermatology, and immunology therapeutic areas. He says, “The industry is always changing, developing new science and curing diseases. The drugs are helping people live longer and spend more time with their families. We’re on the cusp of amazing breakthroughs, so it’s quite exciting.”