From Business to Biotechnology an MLTer Shares His Journey.
By Joshua Keough, Career Prep 2003
Joshua Keough is a 2003 Career Prep Alum and current Clinical Oncology Specialist at MLT’s partner company, Genentech. Joshua shares his career journey, highlights of his MLT experience, and goes in depth about his work at Genentech and what he enjoys most about his role.
I graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in Economics and Psychology. After undergrad, my first job was as a sales representative for Pfizer, a large pharmaceutical company. I loved the customer facing aspects of the role, and the challenges and opportunities for impact that came along with it. During my time in that role, I also took on roles in other functions including Marketing, Operations, and Training that rounded out my skill set and set me up for long-term success in commercial organizations.
From there, I moved to a start-up pharma company as the organization’s 40th employee. In my role as Account Manager I wore many hats, from selling to contracting to educating healthcare providers, and countless others. That role stretched me in a good way, as many of the responsibilities that were carved out to multiple people at my previous company , were now solely my responsibility. It was challenging at first, but ultimately rewarding and I was able to make a successful transition.
While start-up was a great experience, it wasn’t a long-term fit for me. I realized that I wanted to work for an organization with a greater reach, pushing science forward, and closer to home in the SF Bay Area. At the same time, I must recognize the importance that taking a bit of risk and working at a startup, had on my career success. It ultimately helped me gain the necessary skills that I needed to land a bigger role with Genentech, a place that I can now say I plan to be at for a long time.
My Role at Genentech as a Clinical Oncology Specialist
Clinical Specialists (CSs) at Genentech are our B2B salespeople. CSs manage and develop relationships with healthcare providers and stakeholders in a given disease state in their territory. In my role as a Clinical Oncology Specialist, I focus on Hematology and represent the Western Region.
A typical day includes meeting with oncology physicians, thought leaders, administrators, nurses, and other stakeholders to position our treatments effectively and ensure they are appropriately administered for fitting patients. I also regularly interface with my functional partners in Marketing, Operations, and Strategy to ensure that our approach is current and progressive. Oncology is a very dynamic disease state so there is always a new product, new research, or something interesting to keep the job exciting.
It is truly a privilege to work directly with healthcare providers on behalf of Genentech. Partnering with oncologists to help them understand how our breakthrough therapies can benefit their patients lives is impactful and fulfilling. The real payoff comes when we get to hear patient testimonials of how our medicines have improved their lives.
Talented people across our functions coming together towards a common goal of serving patients, is the driving force behind our organization. At the same time, the importance of work-life balance is clear. An annual highlight is “Give Back Week” focused on volunteer efforts, and capped off with a celebration for employees and family.
Reflecting on my MLT Experiences
I had the unique opportunity of working directly with MLT founder John Rice for a summer as an intern! John taught me so much about how to successfully approach business opportunities, and how relationships are key. This was also emphasized during our MLT experience.
Learning how to approach relationships internally with peers, supervisors, mentors, and sponsors has helped me grow my brand and own my development. Managing relationships externally with customers and stakeholders, and approaching them with the right demeanor and assertion for their style or business, has made connecting with customers more meaningful.
I also landed my job at Genentech in large part thanks to an MLT relationship. MBA Prep alum Daniel Tarekegn and I connected at an MLT event at Pandora. Daniel then connected me with Genentech manager Andre Davis, another MBA Prep alum and Daniel’s classmate at Kellogg. Andre hired me 9 months after we met proving MLT’s relationship management works!
I hope that in hearing about my MLT experience, you can see the importance of cultivating relationships with everyone you meet in the program. Often times, it is those unexpected people you meet during your journey within this program that have a significant positive impact on your life 5-10-15 years down the line. Be genuine in your relationship building and make the deliberate effort to build something lasting with your peers.
Advice for MLTers interested in Genentech:
- Check out our website www.gene.com. Genentech’s history is really cool, and the story of our two founders, a scientist and a consultant, capture Genentech’s bridge of science and business. Read up on our scientific approach, breakthrough therapies, and culture. Check out our career site for jobs that make sense in any of our functions.
- Connect with current Genentech employees on Linkedin. Most are very accommodating and would be glad to connect. We also have a good network of MLTers at Genentech who would certainly welcome connecting with current scholars, and helping navigate the information gathering and hiring processes.
- Connect directly with Genentech’s Diversity and Inclusion Team www.gene.com/good/diversity-inclusion
- Be genuine in your desire to help improve healthcare. Our motto “Doing now what patients need next” is not just for show. Bringing passion and energy towards helping patients will help you connect with Genentech and succeed here.
Joshua’s Recommended Reading:
Tell to Win by Peter Guber – Captures the art and importance of storytelling in business to win over customers and groups.
Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa – Teaches sellers how to help clients succeed leading to a buy-sell environment that is a win-win for both.
Learn more here: https://www.gene.com/