Biotech Star

Jennifer Cook, MBA 98

Senior VP, Genentech,

South San Francisco, Calif.

 

Told to earn a PhD and enter academia, Jennifer Cook ignored the advice and took a research job with Genentech. Told to stick with research, she earned her business degree instead.

 

"I've always pursued what I love," she says. "I've never had a master plan—I've just taken the path that interested me, and that's paid off fabulously well."

 

Cook started with Genentech after earning her master's in biology from Stanford. She spent five years in research before taking another lab position at a startup pharmaceutical firm in San Diego.

 

Challenges at the startup made her realize the importance of good management, which led her to Haas. "I didn't have a vocabulary or framework for thinking about certain workplace situations. Business school gives you a way to analyze and explain them; I draw on that all the time."

 

Cook returned to Genentech as an intern in market planning while still at Haas and rejoined the company after graduating. Since then she has steadily received promotions, working in both development and commercial functions. She now leads the U.S. sales and marketing teams for asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and vision loss medications.

 

Although no longer involved in research—"I loved it and still miss it," she says—Cook enjoys the challenge of "creating a great work environment for a large team and trying to be an inspiring leader." It's also important to her that the medications can improve patients' quality of life for many years.

 

Her advice for recent graduates: "Figure out who you are and what you're best at. When you find yourself in a position, make it yours, and bring your whole game."


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