Working at Ondine: A Career Leading To A Harvard MBA

December 14, 2010 was a really special day for me. I was in my office when I got the news – I had been accepted to Harvard Business School’s MBA program. Now, as my time at Ondine comes to an end, I’ve been asked to recount my story, and how I got to the enviable position of being able to leave a job that I love for an unbelievable opportunity.

I began at Ondine in January of 2008 after returning from a backpacking trip around Western Europe. I had secured the internship the summer beforehand, and viewed it as the perfect opportunity. I had always been interested in business, but I was convinced that I would be attending dental school, having written the entrance examinations during my undergraduate degree. Ondine, having a commercially available dental product, was the hybrid I was looking for. So, armed with only my UBC degree in Cell Biology and Genetics, I set off to see what business was all about.

The next three and a half years were as rich a work experience as any young person could possibly dream of. I had plenty of chances to leverage my education (a rarity for a BSc) in sales and marketing, while immersing myself in supply chain management, quality assurance, accounting, performance management and even engineering. I was given every opportunity to find out what I liked to do, and to go ahead and do it, a mentality that led me into operations, and to gain the necessary experience for business school. It is no wonder that I love my job.

Day to day functions have, however, paled in comparison to the work environment, and the general spirit of the company. In this organization, there is truly a commitment to the greater good – everyone is aware that the science of photodynamics is simply too important to fail, and it is reflected in our work. Carolyn leads by example from the top (anyone, intern to executive, will tell you that they receive the majority of their emails at 3 am, largely due to Carolyn’s relentless work ethic) and her enthusiasm spreads quickly, both inside and outside the company. We have a technology that is unlike anything else in the world and, thankfully, we have a team to match it.

It’s not all work however, and there is plenty of fun to be had. Whether you enjoy having Nick Loebel explain his PhD on a napkin over a beer (this is probably just me), joining Erin and Clarence’s book club, engaging in “guerrilla marketing” with Jim, or watching a hockey game in the board room, there is always something going on. Relationships from work haven even allowed me to go on the humanitarian trip “Kindness in Action” with Dr. Veronique Benhamou and her incredible group of volunteers. In my time here, I have truly felt like family, perhaps most memorably when Tom Dawson invited me to stay at his home during a particularly long trip down to the lab in Washington. What a treat to avoid the hotel and spend the week with a boss, mentor and friend! These are the same people who will write you reference letters for grad school, knowing that they are likely sacrificing your services to the company by doing so.

At 25 years old, I know I’m about to embark on one of the most important journeys of my life, but I can’t deny the bittersweet nature of the transition. I look forward to seeing Ondine transform into the company it is meant to be, and will eagerly await my next opportunity to help it on its course.

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