Kent Hawryluk believes that Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management has the potential to become the best business school to specialize in healthcare. He’s helping it get there.
Hawryluk, a 2007 Kellogg graduate and co-founder, president, and CEO of MBX Biosciences, gifted the school $3M in February 2021 to start a new scholarship: The Hawryluk Biopharmaceutical Scholars Endowed Fund. The goal? Equip future leaders with the tools to make an impact within healthcare.
“Kellogg has a unique opportunity to be the number one business school in all facets of healthcare,” Hawryluk said. “With Kellogg’s ideal location in the Chicago area, there is potential to nurture a pipeline of talent in biopharmaceuticals and support related entrepreneurship. We’re really breaking ground in this space.”
MEET BHAVANA BALAKRISHNAN
This September, Kellogg welcomed its inaugural cohort of 11 Hawryluk scholars — including five first-year and six second-year MBA students in the healthcare pathway. The new fund builds upon the existing healthcare MBA curriculum — 6% of Kellogg MBAs went into healthcare in the Class of 2021, up from 5% in 2020 — and brings together those with a strong interest in working in the biopharmaceutical sector. Through immersive experiences like industry hubs, presentations from leaders in the field, and mentorship, the scholars get to learn from alumni and experts in healthcare management.
Kent Hawryluk believes that this fund provides an opportunity to nurture a pipeline of talent in biopharmaceuticals and entrepreneurship. By creating a community of scholars, the goal is to attract the best candidates interested in innovation in the healthcare space.So far, each scholar’s had the opportunity to have conversations with prominent members of the healthcare and pharmaceutical communities, including those with business backgrounds as well as scientists and researchers who’ve brought life-saving therapies to the market.
“We as MBA students want to be effective partners for scientists who are doing incredible work and drug discovery,” says Bhavana Balakrishnan, second-year healthcare MBA student and Hawryluk scholar. “We want to understand what they’re doing and help to bring these medications to the market.”
“The goal of this fund is to create a network within Kellogg of those interested in staying in the biopharmaceutical space,” adds Lauren Cziesla, first-year healthcare MBA student and Hawryluk scholar. “It will help us to create lasting connections for the duration of our careers.”
LONG ROAD TO KELLOGG
Balakrishnan’s interest in healthcare came from her engineering background and working first-hand in the manufacturing of life-saving therapies.
Originally from India, Balakrishnan spent time growing up in Qatar and then Singapore, where she studied chemical engineering at the National University of Singapore. During her undergraduate studies, she gained firsthand experience working in pharmaceutical engineering with GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis. Upon graduation, she accepted a job as a process engineer with Novartis, where she worked for five years. There, she manufactured pills for cardiovascular and diabetes medications. “It was my job to investigate why some things went wrong and propose solutions to troubleshoot and get production going again,” she says.
After a few years as a process engineer, she was promoted to manufacturing supervisor where she oversaw shop load operations and did resource planning. In this role, she was the first point of contact for manufacturing-related questions. “The thing I loved most about this role was that it was so tangible. I was working first hand with medication and I knew that it was going directly to patients. It felt like I was making an impact,” she explains.
Eventually, Balakrishnan became interested in being less involved in the day-to-day aspects of manufacturing. Rather, she wanted to study the trends that were affecting pharmaceutical companies as a whole. “I wanted to look at the industry more holistically,” she says. “I was interested in getting my MBA so that I could better understand the business side of things.”
Upon entering the program — and becoming a Hawryluk scholar — Balakrishnan became interested in the intersection of healthcare and finance. Over the summer between her first and second year, she interned at J.P. Morgan in their healthcare investment banking team, where she worked with corporate clients across different verticals in healthcare. “I feel really strongly about being involved in the healthcare space and seeing a lot of the trends that affect it, specifically because of innovation regulation intersection with government and policy,” she says.
MEET LAUREN CZIESLA
Like Balakrishnan, Lauren Cziesla is fascinated by the leading science innovations happening in healthcare, and the potential to make an impact on people’s lives. “I love that the work you do in health care impacts the lives of patients in such a positive way, especially in the biopharmaceutical sector,” she says.
Cziesla grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, and studied chemistry at Notre Dame following high school. After her undergrad, she accepted a job with Eli Lilly, where she worked for the last five years. There, she worked in the manufacturing space as a front line support scientist. “I really got to know the day-to-day, hands-on nuances of operations in the pharmaceutical space,” she says. “Knowing that the products we were making in my previous role were literally saving people’s lives gave me a lot of meaning in my work.”
Aspiring to be a leader in a pharmaceutical or biotech company, she realized the need to sharpen her business knowledge. “I figured that Kellogg would be the perfect place to do it,” she says.