Evening MBA transformers: Savitha Swaminathan

Savitha Swaminathan Once: research associate, Seattle BioMed
Now: commercialization associate, Device and Tools Global Program, PATH, Seattle

Tell us about your previous career: Prior to enrolling in the Foster School of Business, I worked at the Center for Infectious Disease Research as a research associate. I managed and conducted research projects on agents of critical infectious diseases such as the influenza virus.

What are you currently doing in your role? I am currently a commercialization associate with the Devices and Tools group at PATH. PATH is a global health nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring transformative health technologies to the developing world. PATH does this through product development, innovation, and effective private sector partnerships. In my current role, I focus on ensuring that effective partnering with the private sector, global access, intellectual property, and market development perspectives are integrated into product development plans. I support strategic product development through analysis, such as market segmentation, economic and stake holder analysis, and develop value propositions to evaluate the commercial viability of the technologies in our portfolio.

How did the Evening MBA Program help you transition to your new role? The MBA was key in making a successful transition from research to business strategy. In particular, the internship I did with the Center for Commercialization laid the foundation for a very successful interview process and created an easy transition into my current role. The MBA also created many opportunities to network and meet the right people who were able to guide, mentor, and recommend me to potential employers.

What advice do you have for part-time MBA students interested in making a career transition? “Lean in.” While Facebook COO Cheryl Sandberg has used this phrase to create a movement of epic proportions to help women catalyze their careers, it can be borrowed to summarize your strategy to make the most of the MBA program. If you are looking to make a career transition, it is likely you will have less experience in the area you want to move into. It is important to position your past experience as relevant to the new role you are seeking and also make the most of the opportunities the MBA program provides to make up for this gap. Actively engaging with MBA Career Management to improve your interview skills, participating in case competitions to expand your exposure to real-world business challenges, and engaging with Foster’s rich alumni network to seek informational interviews are all highly effective strategies to help overcome this lack of direct experience. For evening students life can get very busy juggling full-time work and MBA assignments. Therefore, be strategic and focus on one or two areas to support your professional development through the program.