Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Sheetij “Ricky” Ghoshal, U.C. Berkeley (Haas)

Sheetij “Ricky” Ghoshal

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

“A life-long nomad. A biotechnology professional committed to bringing innovative therapeutics from labs to patients.”

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Fun Fact About Yourself: In my spare time, I make electronic music on my laptop, some of which I have published with independent record labels.

Undergraduate School and Major:

McMaster University – Bachelor of Health Science (Honors) Major: Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization

McMaster University – Master of Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Nanovista, Inc.; Director of Program Management

Berkeley Haas is founded on four Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Which principle resonates most with you and why? While each of the four Defining Leadership Principles forms the foundation of the culture at Haas, the principle that resonates most with me is ‘Students Always’. With the rapid pace of human innovation in the last couple of decades, we are all constantly learning and adapting. This is particularly true in the biotech space, where new biological insights combined with computational and machine learning prowess are opening up new targets and therapeutic modalities. It is crucial for the next generation of leaders to have an interdisciplinary understanding of the business and technological landscape. It is for this exact reason that I am pursuing an integrated dual degree (MBA/MEng) in bioengineering.

What word best describes the Haas MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Helpful. Because I have yet to speak to a Haas MBA student or alumnus who hasn’t been genuinely willing to help.

Aside from classmates and the Defining Leadership Principles, what was the key part of Berkeley Haas’ MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Aside from the fantastic people and Defining Leadership Principles at Haas, it was the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that drew me to this business school. Haas does a great job of leveraging its location in the Bay Area, a global center of innovation, to provide students with opportunities to work with innovative companies that are developing groundbreaking technologies. Berkeley also encourages the entrepreneurially-inclined to pursue their ideas. Incubators like Berkeley Skydeck provide pre-seed capital and seasoned advisors to help students bring their ideas to life.

In addition to Haas being a top business school, UC Berkeley is one of the top educational and research institutions in the world. The world-class biomedical research that is conducted at Berkeley (see Jennifer Doudna’s Nobel Prize for her role in the discovery of CRISPR) provides fantastic opportunities to spin out biotech startups and commercialize new therapeutics, transforming patients’ lives in the process. Berkeley also just recently opened a full-service, life sciences incubator called the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub, which supports the creation of life-sciences and biotechnology startups.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Berkeley Haas? The Haas Healthcare Club and Haas Venture Capital Club are particular draws for me as I’d like to meet with fellow champions of healthcare innovation and share ideas. I will also be exploring affinity clubs and other avenues to engage with the Berkeley Haas community on a deeper and more personal level.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I joined my first startup, Glysantis, as the third employee. Glysantis had spun out a novel nanoparticle technology platform with potential applications in the biomedical space. Over the next few years, I helped take the technology from a research project to a pre-clinical drug candidate for the treatment of ovarian cancer. I wore many hats, including building out the scientific team, supervising contract research organizations, and leading business development efforts at international conferences. Over the course of my time with Glysantis, I helped the organization raise in excess of $4 million in equity and R&D grants. I was also named an inventor on two patent applications for my technical contributions to the nanoparticle platform.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me two key lessons:

First, it has shown me that there is an ever-present risk of a black swan event occurring. While we will never have advanced knowledge of when the next world-changing event will happen, having lived through the current one has taught me to always be prepared and adaptable, whether in life or in business.

Second, the pandemic has solidified my conviction that the future of the human race depends on biological innovation. From vaccines and therapeutics protecting us from pandemics and rare diseases to bioengineered fuels/industrial materials to protect the planet from environmental pillaging to synthetic DNA that can store vast troves of data, I sincerely believe that the next industrial revolution will be led by the field of biotechnology.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? Having worked at biotech startups for the last four years, I think I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do in life. In order to realize my goal of translating biological innovation into commercially-viable products, I need to strengthen my business acumen and expand my horizons. I want to learn from faculty and peers from diverse backgrounds and assimilate valuable lessons from other fields into my long-term mission. After graduation, I hope to gain transactional experience working in a biotech finance-related role in investment banking or venture capital. With this experience, I hope to round out my strong scientific background and early-stage startup experience with exposure to more mature companies and financing strategies necessary to fund long and risky clinical development programs.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT Sloan and NYU Stern.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Berkeley Haas’ MBA program? Take plenty of time for introspection and really understand what it is that truly drives you. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do for an internship or post-graduation career. All you need to do is to be true to yourself and practice articulating what it is that you care about.


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