I completed bachelor studies in Biomedical Sciences, followed by a Master in Cancer, Stem cells, and developmental biology, with a minor in finance at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. It was always my ambition to improve healthcare. At first, I thought it would be done best doing research from the university lab. But I felt that academia was sometimes more focused on publishing papers in high impact journals, rather than adopting and developing its found innovations like new methods of gene editing or drug delivery. This especially visible when comparing the number of papers vs the number of spin-offs coming from any given university. This is why I wanted to help companies that actually are involved in creating new therapies or improve healthcare in other ways like optimisation of hospital workflows. After my studies, I interned in a small life sciences consultancy boutique (strategy, M&A, business development) after which I started working in Equity Research at NIBC Bank.
Equity research explained
Many Life Sciences companies are seeking funding for their R&D activities to develop products or therapies to reach commercialisation. The goal of equity research is to connect listed companies with the right investors at the right time (private companies in the case of an IPO). Equity research is the analysis of company fundamentals and forecasting its’ financials. Based on this, analysts derive a target price for a company share and recommendation (buy, sell, hold). In my role as equity research analyst, I created visibility for small European biotech companies that normally would not have reached investor monitors, which are usually more focused on large US companies like AbbVie, or Gilead. Simultaneously, I help investors by getting relevant information in a timely manner. My dual education helps me to navigate through the different technologies behind the companies, but also to see if the business models or competitive or political environment make sense. What I like most in equity research is to get to know so many exciting companies and innovations and help the investors and healthcare industry to understand these companies better.
Going into Finance
The investing industry consists of many players: investment banks, venture capital, private equity, venture debt, etc. When starting as a scientist, one might find the financial world more formal and less free. In my case I found my working hours bound to the opening hours of the financial markets, which was very different than when I was working in the lab. With strong data analysis skills and scientific knowledge, you can differentiate yourself from your peers with a pure financial background. Many of my teachers have told me that it is easier to acquire financial knowledge and modelling skills than to acquire five years of scientific knowledge.
Personal lessons learned
- Be curious! It is important to keep up with scientific advances, but I believe a broad interest in different fields will help your personal and professional development. For example, I would often spar with my colleagues about which industries are interesting to invest in.
- Do various internships during your studies. Finding the right job that fits you can be challenging. Not only because of competition for a vacancy but also because of company culture and your own expectations. By exploring different internships you will learn more about the dynamics within these companies. Furthermore, some companies mostly hire from their intern pool.
- Seek out different mentors. When you are just starting a new job finding your way can be difficult. You will need to develop many skills at a rapid pace. Whether you are in the lab or in the office, it is highly likely that your manager is very busy. My advice would be to learn different skills from different people. It is up to you to find them. Larger firms might have a mentor/coach/sponsor programme in place, which could also help your visibility inside and outside the firm.