Pharma Industry Scholars Program offers distinct advantages to boost career

Rutgers has strong connections with the bio-pharmaceutical industry - Tarak, Rutgers MBA '13

Rutgers Business School offers MBA students who concentrate on pharmaceutical management a unique opportunity to make connections and gain work experience to help advance their careers in the competitive healthcare industry.   

A handful of incoming traditional full-time MBA students are chosen by Rutgers each year to participate in the prestigious Pharmaceutical Industry Scholars Program. The program provides chosen students -- prospective scholars must already be accepted to the MBA program and must have several years of work experience to be considered -- with money to cover the full cost of tuition, internships as well as access to executives and professionals in the pharmaceutical business.

Professor Mahmud Hassan, director of the Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for the study of Pharmaceutical Management Issues, said scholars gain key advantages.

“The program’s five sponsoring companies (Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis) know you by name,” he said, “and they compete for you.”

Students who become scholars also have opportunities to serve in leadership roles and to supplement their resumes with new accomplishments and experiences, Hassan said.

To be considered for the Industry Scholars Program, candidates must have the following: a relatively high GMAT score; an undergraduate grade point average of 3.2 or higher; at least three years of business experience (not necessarily in the pharmaceutical business); and a demonstrated potential for leadership.

Candidates must also be goal-oriented and be able to demonstrate excellent communication skills and a record of superior achievement.

Those candidates who meet the criteria for the scholars program will be invited in for an interview with a selection committee made up of representatives from the five sponsoring companies. The selection committee makes the final decisions about scholarship winners. Students who are chosen to receive scholarship money may use it to cover in-state or out-of-state tuition plus college fees

This year, interviews with students who are selected as prospective scholars for the Class of 2015 will take place in March and April. 

Harleen Parmar, a Class of 2013 industry scholar, said the relationships scholars forge with representatives from the sponsoring pharmaceutical companies prove to be beneficial. “You do get a leg up on internships and jobs,’’ she said, “but you still have to work hard.”

Parmar, who spent six years working mostly with large drug makers before she began her master’s degree, landed an internship with Genentech, the South San Francisco-based biotechnology giant. When she completes her MBA later this semester, she hopes to return to the biotech industry.

“The main thing the scholars program gives you is the leverage to network with the pharmaceutical companies that sponsor the program,” she said. “It really expands the breadth of your network.”

Students in the 2011 MBA Pharmaceutical Management Program (featured in Bloomberg Businessweek).

Rutgers Business School’s campuses in Newark and New Brunswick provide students are located in close proximity to one of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry hubs. Each of the sponsoring companies – Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eisai, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis – has a significant presence in the state.

The Rutgers MBA in Pharmaceutical Management is a reflection of the industry’s importance in New Jersey and its quest for talent. Hassan said the Rutgers MBA concentration is differentiated by the depth of training it provides students and the expertise of its faculty. The MBA program at Rutgers is also bolstered by the presence of the Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center for the Study of Pharmaceutical Management.

Laryssa Wozniak, another industry scholar, worked in the life sciences industry for five years before she started her MBA at Rutgers. “I knew I wanted to continue my career in the pharmaceutical industry,” she said. “The program was perfect for me.”

Wozniak said being in the scholar was like having a “back door pass” to the sponsoring pharmaceutical companies.

Like Hassan, Wozniak said the sponsoring companies are very aware of the scholars who they’ve chosen to invest in. “They know you have experience,” she said. “They know you’re choosing to stay in the industry. They look at that commitment.”

Wozniak has worked at GlaxoSmithKline in marketing and marketing research since completing her Rutgers MBA. She is currently in the company’s leadership development program and part of team focused on ground-breaking work in the area of patient engagement.

“It’s an exciting place to be,” she said.

TAGS: Graduate Admissions Mahmud Hassan MBA Pharmaceutical Management Pharmaceutical Management Club The Blanche and Irwin Lerner Center