How this alum is putting his passions into practice

by Alyana Versolatto

Pratik Shah (MAcc ’09) is CFO of the company Cyclica, recently recognized in Canadian Innovation Exchange’s 2021 list of Top 10 Growth Startups

Image of Pratik ShahWhen Pratik Shah (MAcc ’09) came across the CFO role for the neo-biotech company Cyclica on a MaRS job board, it took him right back to his undergrad at the University of Waterloo. As a Biotech/CPA student, his long-term career goal was to work for high-growth startups making a social impact. Better yet, Shah wanted to leverage his scientific background, which aligned well with Cyclica’s bold mission to build the biotech pipeline of the future.

Recently recognized on the Canadian Innovation Exchange’s list of Top 10 Growth Startups of 2021, Cyclica’s data-driven drug discovery platforms use a proteome-wide lens to evaluate multiple novel and rare on- and off-target interactions simultaneously. To put it simply, they use polypharmacology to speed up the drug discovery timeline and help bring the right medicines to patients faster and with greater precision.

Shah’s educational background, Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation, Chartered Business Valuator (CBV) designation, and his past experience with other high-growth companies like Merus Labs, Organigram and Hyasynth Bio made him an excellent fit for his dream job. According to Shah, with his tailored educational journey, he can just as easily review an academic journal article as he can a consulting presentation deck for the board.

“The Biotech/CPA program provided me with the perfect combination of two fields of interest. One is a solid foundation in the application of pure sciences in a commercial context, and the other is the business foundation that the CPA program requires, as well as the electives I took in the Master of Accounting (MAcc) program.” - Pratik Shah

To help fight the global pandemic, an impactful decision that Shah’s employer made during the pandemic, was to team up with academic institutions to identify any drugs that could be repurposed to fight COVID-19. Excitingly, new findings accelerated by their drug discovery platform suggests that the lung cancer drug, Capmatinib, demonstrates robust antiviral effects in experimental COVID-19 models.

The School of Accounting and Finance caught up with Shah recently to learn more about his career journey before joining Cyclica, his take on the state of disruption within the pharmaceutical industry, and his advice for aspiring professionals who have dreams of building a career toward a C-suite level role.