Making the Leap from Biotechnology R&D to Finance

by Daniela Hristova-Neeley, Ph.D.

Daniela Hristova-Neeley, Ph.D.

Prior to business school, I led the research and development effort of a biotechnology company in the cancer diagnostics space. Although I found this work immensely rewarding because of its potential to help people, I was ready to take on greater responsibilities that would allow me to make a larger impact on society. I came to Johnson to acquire the skills necessary to transition to a finance role in the healthcare industry. I am very pleased that as an Accelerated MBA student I had the opportunity to participate in the Managerial Finance Immersion, which gave me a great perspective on the different finance roles in corporations – and the problems finance leaders are currently solving.

The Managerial Finance Immersion included a “trek” to visit the headquarters of five large corporations. Before the trek, we were assigned business cases to analyze for each company. The first stop was at Air Products where we discussed a case about the corporate financial policies implemented by the company and a recent attempt for an acquisition. I was amazed by the attention we were given by the CFO of the company. He spent several hours with us discussing the challenges he faces and explaining the thought process behind his decisions. This visit was a perfect follow-up to the Corporate Financial Polices course we completed prior to the trek, as we were able to see firsthand the application of the theories we learned in class.

Afterward, we continued to New York City where we visited JP Morgan, Citi, American Express, and Ernst & Young. The cases we studied before the trek gave me a better understanding of the businesses of these financial institutions and fostered engaging discussions during the visits.

I am really grateful for the opportunity to discuss the current topics in finance and to learn from well-respected finance leaders, and I would strongly recommend the immersion to anyone interested in a career in finance.