I’m very happy to post another alumnus interview. Sorry it has taken so long to come out! Thank you for all the messages about this series and just to let you know, I have two more interviews lined up that will be with you ASAP.
Thank you to Erika for being my interviewee. She has some really great advice for prospective students so make sure you read until the end 🙂
As always, please get in touch if you want to hear about a particular industry or job role!
Erika is a true entrepreneur and ran her own yoga and nutrition company before coming to Karolinska Institutet. After graduation, she combined this experience with her new knowledge working for an up and coming life science software company.
Name: Erika Rask
Year of graduation: 2014
Job title: Sales Manager
Company: MedUniverse, Stockholm
Tell us about your Experiences at Karolinska Institute.
My background is in molecular nutrition and I worked in the industry for a few years with my own company and as an employee. I came to KI with some business experience but still had a lot to learn from the programme!
My favourite course was Business Development in the third semester. Our class was lucky as we had an amazing tutor from one of Europe’s top business schools. Unfortunately she does not take the class anymore but the content is still key for any career in business.
For my first practical placement (PP1), I was placed in BioGaia AB, analysing emerging markets for probiotics. It was related to my background, which was nice, but I knew I wanted the experience of working for a larger company during my second placement (PP2).
Oriflame were advertising an internship within their innovation department at the same time as PP2. So I applied and was assigned a project managing the central innovation process for the Wellness department. After the placement, they asked me to stay on, moving to the Wellness department full-time so I could finish the project. I decided to continue the work whilst writing my Master’s thesis at the company.
It was difficult but I don’t regret the decision. However it is important to keep in mind that if you work during your Master’s thesis you have to align the requirements from KI and the company simultaneously. I ended up juggling two full time projects: my own thesis and the one for Oriflame!
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving Karolinska Institutet
MedUniverse is a services and technology company dedicated to bridging the information gap between industry and healthcare professionals. I work as sales manager and my clients are usually big pharmaceutical companies, in fact we work with 7 out of the 10 largest in the world.
After graduation, I knew I wanted to join a small company. I find it exciting to be on the journey with a company as it develops. When I started, MedUniverse had four employees and two years later, we are 11 with four open vacancies to fill this year alone!
Our software is a patient case tool based on a subscription model: we provide the technical platform, the Pharma companies add patient cases and doctors are able to work through the patient journey. Although I didn’t have experience with this kind of business model before, it has been interesting to see how the product influences healthcare. In fact, we have grown so fast due to clients recommending us to their partners in different locations. We have grown with our clients into 24 different markets including Canada, Brazil, Australia and Israel!
How do you think the programme has helped since leaving university?
With hindsight, I can definitely see how the programme helps me in my daily working life. Foremost because the MBE is a management degree, I can ‘talk the talk’ of the business world. And of course, the overall understanding of the healthcare ecosystem is invaluable.
The programme re-sets your mind-set from science to business. In science, you start with the problems and try to find possibilities, but with business you start with the possibilities and add the problems later.
Any Alumni wisdom to share?
The best advice I can give is don’t expect the programme to tell you what to do. The opportunities are there but it is up to you to define how you want to take advantage of them.
You have 3 placements and you should see them as individual learning opportunities. Define what experience you want to have (for example ‘Med-Tech start up in Sweden’) and just go for it. Accept that it might be totally wrong but at least you have had the experience!
Remember each placement is a great opportunity to build a network connected to your Master’s. Once you have defined the experience you want from each placement, it is much easier to find people that can help you (and define how you can help them). It’s the perfect excuse to break the ice and just get talking to people!
Also read the lean start up (if you haven’t already)…..
Thank you again to Erika 🙂
As always feel free to get in touch if you have any questions x
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