A career in academic science
In 1990, I graduated in biochemistry and spent several years studying and as a research associate in various countries. I then worked in the emerging field of bioinformatics. It was the beginning of the human genome project and very few qualified people were available. My self-taught programming skills helped me gain a developer position at the French National Sequencing Centre in Evry (France) where I was involved in the deciphering of the human chromosome 14.
A desire for more international experience
Two year later, I was offered a position at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) in Cambridge, UK, next door to the famous Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a major contributor to the human genome project. So my wife, our two sons and I moved to the UK. During my 6 years working at EBI, I had the chance to work with colleagues from 25 nationalities, take on new managerial responsibilities and work on challenging projects.
The Cambridge MBA - a natural progression
I was amazed at how willing and fearless people in the UK are in trying to change theircareer path and to go back to studying to enable this change. The opportunity to move from academia to industry seems more attainable in the UK than in France. My mindset evolved in such a way that studying for an MBA became the most natural progression. Choosing the Cambridge MBA was a no-brainer. Cambridge is home of the largest biocluster in Europe and I wanted to stay in touch with the field of biology. The University has a very strong reputation for excellence and the College life appealed to me.
From academic to entrepreneur
The entrepreneurial path as a possible post-MBA opportunity was something I had in mind but not as something definite. I used my MBA year to investigate what was involved in setting up and running up a company. I joined other MBAs in the Entrepreneurship Special Interest Group and got involved in some of the Cambridge events around this theme, which there are many of. Along the year, my initially very fuzzy and unconvincing business idea got refined and matured by talking to as many people as possible and gathering valuable feedback. With a commercial opportunity coming at the right time, I partner with an old colleague of mine and we incorporated the company Eagle Genomics in May 2008, 3 months before finishing my MBA!
The Cambridge MBA has been instrumental in this outcome. It helped me build confidence in my abilities as an entrepreneur, and also helped me identify my weaknesses and learn to work with them! I learnt a many new business skills, the power of networking and most importantly, what I still have to learn!
Overall, the programme and my career outcome exceeded my expectations. The Cambridge MBA gave me fresh ideas, re-motivated me and expanded my horizons – a real transformation from a pure academic into a confident entrepreneur, with his own company, in just one year!
— Abel Ureta-Vidal, Entrepreneur and CEO of Eagle Genomics
Cambridge MBA alumnus