Marina Udier (PhD ’04, Chemistry)

What is your current profession/job?

I am the Chief Operating Officer of a biotech company called NousCom. NousCom has best in class platform for cancer vaccines and we are preparing to test our product in the clinic this year. I received my PhD in Chemistry from Yale in 2004.

What do you like most about your current role?

Breadth of responsibilities, speed and agility of a small organization, fantastic team.

What do you find most challenging and/ or rewarding?

Challenging: working with constant time pressure and limited resources. Rewarding: pace and impact.

How did your time at Yale shape your career trajectory?

I was fortunate to work in in an environment where I was exposed to an integrated drug discovery process including computational chemistry, synthetic chemistry, and molecular pharmacology. I also learned a lot from my lab mates and other friends within the Yale community. Yale is a special place with so many smart, interesting people.

What are the main skills that you acquired as a PhD student which help make you successful in your current career?

Independent thinking, drive, resilience and willingness to work hard until the problem is solved.

Did you acquire any professional experience related to your line of work while in graduate school (either through part-time work, volunteering, networking, or other forms of training)?

Not formally, but I worked with a few other graduate students in a consulting club (we practiced case studies while preparing for McKinsey interviews).

What is the biggest challenge that you faced in transitioning to different working places / cultures?

Being open and humble while learning new things. Get to know people outside of your department!

What do you suggest current students do to prepare for those challenges?

Seek challenges, practice learning new things, not just mastering what you already know. What matters most is your will to succeed in whatever you do.