Bioentreprenuership alumnus Saad jumped from pharma to business

Name: Al Saad Chowdhury
Degree: Master’s Programme in Bioentrepreneurship (2018)
Current role: Business Development Manager, Camanio Care
Based: Stockholm, Sweden and Dhaka, Bangladesh

KI alumnus profile photo
KI Alumnus Al Saad Chowdhury Photo: private

What is your background?

I am a life science graduate with business acumen; a pharmacist by training from North South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh with experience in brand management, product & business development in both pharmaceutical and digital healthcare industry.  

I worked with MedTech and Biotech companies during practical placement programs within the Bioentrepreneurship Master's at KI to diversify my skillset. For the last three years I have been working with a digital care company in Stockholm where we envision to connect social care with healthcare, providing the ability to integrate both in one platform. Healthcare is moving from hospitals to home and we offer services to make home care more efficient.

Fast forward 2 years and I still believe it was one of the best decisions I took.

Al Saad Chowdhury, on choosing KI

Why did you choose KI?

While I was working in the pharmaceutical industry (ACI Pharmaceutical, Product Management Department) in Bangladesh, I was getting more and more connected with the business side. To improve my skills, I was looking for a Master’s Programme that blends business with life science. I found the Master’s in Bioentrepreneurship at KI during my searches.  

As soon as I read the description, I made the decision to apply. To help make the decision, I contacted a graduate from the programme – an alumnus featured on the KI website- to inquire about the job possibilities after graduation. I also remember writing my motivation letter in the midnight while I was traveling for work -  that’s how excited I was. I must mention that the top university ranking of KI also influenced my choice. 

How did you select your current career path?

During my final term, I was doing my Master’s thesis at Camanio care on a mobile telepresence robot to evaluate how it should be developed to meet the needs in healthcare. You might be wondering how come I jumped from pharma to robots? That is the bright side of the program.  

Instead of getting stuck in a specific branch of life science, why not master the entrepreneurial side of it and be able to work across multiple industries? I also had the opportunity to work part-time at Camanio with International sales and commercialization during my thesis and after graduation. Because I saw such potential in what we were doing, I was happy to continue to work full time.  

What is your current role? Describe a day on the job.

Currently I am working on multiple projects related to business development. We are trying to understand how we can create additional revenue channels or improve the cost efficiency, as well as supporting the management team to identify the future of our products or services. I am also working with divestment projects, which is totally something new for me. Due to my elective course Finance for Startups (part of Bioentrepreneurship program), I felt well prepared for this.

Everyday is different and comes with new challenges or opportunities. Now due to COVID-19, I am mostly working from home. Currently, I am evaluating the market competition as a part of business planning, evaluating the ROI for a new project we want to kick off from next year and trying to close a divestment project. I am working from Dhaka these days due to the second wave of COVID-19. The flexibility of work location is something I am appreciating a lot, since I can spend more time with my family back home during the holidays.

How do you remember your time at KI? 

I remember being truly amazed to find so many bright student colleagues from different countries. I believe networking is one of the most positive side of the programme. We were 29 students in the 2016 – 2018 class from 15 different countries and different backgrounds. 

Fast forward 2 years and I still believe it was one of the best decisions I took. Throughout the two years, I made friends in every continent (except Antarctica). The best memory I can think of now is probably the cruise trip with my classmates to Estonia, which kicked off our European traveling experience. I also had the opportunity to get connected with many bright people in the Swedish life science industry, which still helps me when I am looking for information. 

How did your studies at KI help your future career?  

The courses such as Business Development, Product Development and Finance for Start-ups gave me the confidence required to accomplish my tasks well. A really positive part of the program is the guest lecturers from different companies. The updated industry insights and knowledge regarding how healthcare works in Sweden as well as EU and the other countries is really broad and helps while working in the industry a lot. 

A broader network and also the deeper understanding of the industry helped me in several ways to plan my career. Another great part of bioentrepreneurship is the diversity in work area it allows, ranging from the regulatory field and medical device certification to product development and commercialization or even finance! 

What are your future aspirations? 

I see myself being active within the business side of the life science industry in the future. Currently, my plan is to learn more about the complex healthcare industry in Sweden and understand how better solutions could be designed to fit the needs particular to the industry.  

Apart from that, I also strive for further networking within the industry. Looking at the bigger picture, my goal as a life science alumnus is always to contribute to the society and healthcare system in a positive way. I plan to continue doing that. 

What is your advice to current students? 

Do a bit more research on the industry you seek to work in for the internship programs, they really add a lot of value to this program. Also, if you are planning to diversify your skill set or change current career track, you can always try out something new within the practical placement period. I would also highlight the importance of elective courses and how it can shape your future career path, do a bit more research and select the one you believe fits your interest. It is easy to get lost in the vast options available after graduating from from the Bioentreprenuership programme, so make sure you have a sound plan. 

Life in Sweden can be cold and dark so also make sure that you are open and taking time to grow your network. For any information regarding the industry, do not hesitate to reach out to people. FIKA can help a lot.