Bioentrepreneurship Alumni Profile: Non Profit Organisation

Hej Everyone,

Here is the fourth 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 🙂

Nicole Hanzon

Nicole studied Biomedicine before Bioentrepreneurship at KI. She did her second practical placement at SwedenBio before making her way back after graduation.

Name:  Nicole HanzonNicole Picutre

Year of graduation: 2014

Job title: Project Coordinator

Company: SwedenBio, Stockholm

Tell us about your Experiences at Karolinska Institute.

When I first applied to the Master’s in Bioentrepreneurship (MBE), it was seen as quite strange. I studied Biomedicine at KI for my Bachelor’s. As the programme was quite new, my biomedicine classmates thought I was crazy not to follow the well respected ‘typical’ pathway into academia. I’m glad that I didn’t pay attention! Especially as the MBE programme has grown to be so popular and well respected in its own way.

I did my second Practical Placement at SwedenBio. My classmate had been there for PP1 and recommended it. SwedenBio is a member based non profit organisation with about 230 members from the life science sector. It’s perfect for student placements because it allows you to sample a little bit of everything. SwedenBio has members from big pharma and medtech to small start ups plus everything in between! My project was an analysis of the members profiles; type of company, geography, size etc.

SwedenBio runs lots of  mingling events for its members (which I now organise!) During my PP2, I attended a breakfast seminar about life science communication. I was immediately interested as I felt it was something we did not cover on the programme but was so important. Good communication is vital for small biotech companies who need to communicate their success to investors. But they are often so bad at it!  I decided to do my thesis project within the life science department of  a PR firm looking at communication within small biotech companies.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving Karolinska Institutet

After graduation, I worked for another non profit organisation promoting Science incubators.  I always wanted to go back to SwedenBio but unfortunately they did not have any open positions at the time of my graduation. However I am proof that persistence pays off eventually! I stayed in touch with my colleagues to ‘remind’ them I was still interested 🙂  Luckily about a year later the organisation went through a re-structuring and they contacted me about the new role of Project Coordinator.

SwedenBio is quite a slim organisation with about 3-5 full-time employees and a few consultants. However we represent the Life Science Industry across the whole of Sweden. As a result, we have a lot of outreach activities and projects. My role is to coordinate them all; networking events, meetings with the govenement and international conferences. In Autumn, we will host the Nordic Life Science Days conference in Malmö. A large project is the Swedish Drug Development Pipeline, this is a flagship report for our organisation. We are able to promote Swedish pharma companies on the national and international stage.

How do you think the programme has helped since leaving university?

Of course, the programme helped me find my current job by introducing me to SwedenBio….but I don’t see a direct influence in my day to day role. Although I think what I learnt on the programme probably  helps me more than I realise.

A unique benefit of our programme is that you get an overview of the whole development process and different industry players. A big part of my job is to be the contact point for our members and listen to their needs. It is really useful to understand our members business models to see how best I can help them.

For this the course Product Development in the Biomedical Industry is pretty invaluable as it makes you aware of all the terminology used (authorities, regulations, certificates etc). To be honest, I think I should probably go through it again 🙂

Any Alumni wisdom to share?

Don’t be stressed! I think that MBE students tend to be quite ambitious and it is easy to feel stressed about what you are going to do after graduation. However the programme sets you up  well for getting a job. There is a lot of value in the placements and people get jobs fast. Even if you don’t get your dream job straight away, you have the skills to work towards it. I waited over a year before I sneaked my way back into SwedenBio!

Remember Swedish organisations usually have very flat structures. Don’t be afraid to ask people for lunch or for a coffee (even top management). As a student, you are in a great position to ask for help or advice. You should take advantage of this whilst you can.

I would also recommend to join a mentor programme. KI has several programmes matching students to an experienced person with the same field of interest. I was part of the Framtidsnätet which aims to help KI student define their career goals. It was really helpful to have someone to talk it who had been through it all before.

Thank you again to Nicole 🙂

As always feel free to get in touch if you have any questions x


Facebook: Rosa Willock

Linkdin: Rosa Willock

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