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From my first consulting engagment, to many more opportunities

by Daniel Wong, PhD | June 8, 2020

I never could have imagined the impact that my very first BCBA consulting engagement would have on my professional development. My journey with BCBA began as a team member on an engagement with a small, venture-backed biotech startup seeking to define which disease indication it would target with its novel microbiome therapeutic platform. As a PhD student studying stem cell-based therapies for type 1 diabetes, I did not have extensive knowledge in the microbial therapeutics space, let alone a business background to help guide me through unfamiliar terminology and jargon. To this day, I do not believe I was even a first-choice candidate for this team. However, what I quickly came to understand was that an openness to learning new concepts, diligence in working through challenging assignments, and an ability to formulate insights from thinking critically take one a long way in a consulting engagement. As part of this engagement, I worked on a team of other graduate students and postdocs to sift through over 1000 disease indications that could be potentially addressed with our client’s novel microbiome technology. Through research into disease mechanisms of action, expert interviews with clinicians and key opinion leaders, and market assessments of multiple therapeutic areas, we ultimately pitched a prioritized set of 4 indications for further evaluation. 

After my first BCBA engagement, I still did not feel that I had a full understanding of the entire scope of consulting, so when asked to lead an engagement of my own, I jumped at the opportunity. Similar to my previous engagement in the microbiome space, this engagement that I led as a project manager was also focused in this same area. However, this time, I was helping a multibillion-dollar biopharmaceutical company perform a market landscape assessment of all microbiome-based therapeutics and diagnostics and identify possible partnerships as a means for entry into this market. With my assembled team, I devised frameworks to evaluate market opportunity, technical and clinical feasibility, and regulatory risks of emerging and current biotechnologies and drug pipelines in the microbiome space. I worked with the Director and Associate Director of Corporate Strategy on this project that would have a real, tangible impact on the company’s overall therapeutic strategy, which was in direct contrast to the work I was doing at the lab bench that was years, if not decades, away from any therapeutic output. What I appreciated most from this experience was that I was given the opportunity to meet with high-level strategy and R&D executives who were interested in my opinions and insights, and I yearned for this feeling of being valued for my intelligence and strategic input. This engagement concluded very successfully, resulting in two additional consulting engagements with this same company, which I helped lead as Vice President of Consulting, and the output of our work resulted in the establishment of a strategic partnership with one of our top target companies that we recommended to our client. 

My experience with BCBA in various consulting capacities has been tremendously rewarding. With multiple touchpoints with corporate strategy executives and steering committees spanning departments including R&D, Corporate Development, Global Marketing, and Alliance Management, I have prepared and presented slide deck deliverables with various BCBA teams by synthesizing technical and market data distilled into actionable recommendations tailored to my clients’ drug portfolios and strategic interests. I believe my work as a consultant at BCBA speaks to my abilities in structuring solutions to elaborate problems, communicating complex ideas, managing client expectations, and presenting to and securing buy-in from key stakeholders in corporate environments. For trainees looking to explore roles beyond the bench, I encourage you to make the jump and use BCBA as an initial springboard to new opportunities. For those evaluating whether to use BCBA for your business, I am confident that our BCBA teams will produce valuable insights that will guide your company’s overall strategic plan and vision. I am excited to see how BCBA grows and look forward to seeing where it heads to next.