Here is the second instalment of the alumni profile blog as promised!
Thank you for all the requests and suggestions for this series. I always love to hear your thoughts and the areas you want to know more about
Andrew studied Environmental Sciences in his homeland of Ireland before coming to Karolinska Institutet. After graduation, he moved to London where he now works as a Life Science consultant.
Name: Andrew McDonnell
Year of graduation: 2015
Job title: Associate Consultant
Company: Pope Woodhead & Associates, London
Tell us about your Experiences at Karolinska Institute.
I have so many great memories of my time in Stockholm. It is still one of my favourite cities. I especially miss the seasons; the snow storms in winter and the gorgeous summer trips to Vaxholm and Djurgarden. When it comes to the programme, it is difficult for me to identify one specific part as each course varied so much! However, my most influential course was the elective at Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship (SSES). This allowed me to enter the sphere of SSES and take advantage of some of the opportunities they offer. After the course, I entered their incubator programme with my own start-up and in the following year became a course assistant.
For my placements, I had experience at a small start-up (PP1 at Kradle Life Sciences) and a large pharma corporation (PP2 at GE Healthcare). Both were valuable experiences but I think within the large pharma I saw much more of what it’s like ‘internally’ and the overall politics which has immensely assisted me when consulting for pharma companies. For my Master’s thesis, I worked in conjunction with Pfizer and with the Swedish pharmaceutical trade association. I looked at the key factors required to introduce Green OTC (over the counter) Pharmaceuticals to the Swedish market. I’d had an interest in sustainable solutions since my Bachelor studies, so I emailed the director of sustainability from Pfizer with my background, what I hoped to achieve and to see if he would like any help. Luckily enough he obliged!
How do you think the programme has helped since leaving university?
A working knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry is the obvious thing that springs to mind! However, the soft skills I learnt are also really valuable in my working life. Working within a team (several times over) probably stands out the most! (FYI for those applying to Bioentrepreneurship, there is a lot of group work involved). For the most part, I liked the group work but it’s always difficult when one or two people do not cooperate. It was really valuable to learn how to gage different ‘social and work styles’ during these projects which really helps once you are confronted with similar personality types in the real world.
Tell us about your favourite or weirdest memory from Karolinska Institute or Stockholm.
It’s too difficult to answer! I lived in Stockholm for two years and have so many. My weirdest is probably moving into my dorm room in PAX with eight complete strangers. I had never lived in a dorm before, so it was a whole new (and slightly weird) experience for me. Luckily, I had my own studio by Year 2 (read how by saving your SSCB points). But I wouldn’t change it. University experience is about the people that you meet and I was fortunate enough to meet, and remain close friends with many people from KI.
Any Alumni wisdom to share?
I was student ambassador for the two years I studied at KI. And I had many many emails (and still do!) from applicants asking ‘how can I stand out?’. I always responded with simply by being yourself and showing your passion! This can be in any way and, in ways that may surprise you- you don’t need to have had your own start-up or list how wonderful you are but instead it will be the emotive way you write your application that will grasp attention from admissions.
Thank you to Andrew for agreeing to be interviewed for this series. As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions x
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