BEYOND THE CLASSROOM – Lab Coats and Business Suits

Thursday, October 3, 2019
by Hellen, Biotech/CPA

In my 1A term, people often asked me, “Why biotech/CPA?” My preferred response would have been: “Because wearing both lab coats and suits is really cool.”

But what I usually responded with was, “Because having both science and business backgrounds will allow me to develop and contribute a unique perspective.” Stating this really didn’t help me realize the true meaning.

Now, as a 4B student, I realize that developing a unique perspective means being open-minded, having the courage to follow your curiosity, and connecting seemingly unrelated things.


On September 20, I joined my fellow peers from the Biotechnology/CPA, Biotechnology/Economics, and Science & Business programs to tour Trillium Therapeutics Inc (“TTI”). We were hosted by James Parsons, CFO and MAcc alumnus, who organized presentations from a variety of teams including finance, R&D, and HR.

By listening to presentations and touring the lab facilities, the connection between science and business crystallized for me: businesses are living, breathing organisms. Borrowing from cell biology, the emergent property, which states that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, holds just as true for biology as it does for business. A business needs people with different skills, but even more crucially is communication within the organization and effective collaboration towards a common goal. As well, businesses are under constant pressure to adapt and evolve. The TTI team spoke about the fast pace of change in the cancer drug development industry, and that they needed to keep abreast of many moving pieces – FDA regulations, competitive landscape, scientific literature, just to name a few.

If people asked me now, “Why Biotech/CPA?”, I can now say that it is because the program has allowed me to appreciate diversity, interdependence, and constant change, in business and science alike.

Or maybe I’ll just stick to the original – getting to wear lab coats and suits is pretty darn cool.