Molecular Techniques alumna Carolina encourages students “Don’t be afraid”

Name: Carolina Savatier-Dupré Bañares
Based: Stockholm, Sweden
Degree: Molecular Techniques in Life Science, 2018
Current role: Research Project Manager, Universum

KI alumna

Carolina works with project management of big data within business not science, but she has found her skills from her Master’s in Molecular Techniques in Life Science incredibly transferable. Here she shares her story about solving problems and not following the beaten path after graduation.

Carolina even shares how her life has changed with Covid-19 here.

Why did you choose to study at KI?

I moved to Sweden initially in 2015 to begin a position as a Research Assistant at KI’s Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology. This was initially a four-month project but since I liked the lab a lot, I was offered an extension to my contract. I came to like KI and I enjoyed living in Stockholm, so I decided to also apply for a Master’s degree at KI.

I was torn between the Biomedicine or the Molecular Techniques in Life Science (MTLS). I sought advice and people mostly underscored how useful it would be to learn to do programing and big data analysis, so I went for KI’s Master’s Programme in Molecular Techniques in Life Science, which is actually a unique collaboration between Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm University, in the environment of Science for Life Laboratory in Stockholm.

Describe your experience at KI.

It was cool to have a program based at three universities: I got to know many more professors and expanded my network. This program really broadened my horizons, I met many more people, learned how different universities operated and adapted to the different educational styles. My favorite semester, though, was the one at KI. I think KI is a great place because, as a smaller university, the teachers care a lot about their students and, thus, you get a very personalized experience. I found everyone involved with the programme to be very helpful. We had quite a few programming projects at KTH, which was also interesting. I struggled with programming because it was hard to have the mindset of “this is what I need to tell the computer for it to do what I want.” However, I think this is a very useful skill to have.
During my studies, I started what has become a tradition of going to the student union’s Solvik cabins to meet the new MTLS students. I’m glad to see this tradition has lived on.

What is your current role?

I’m a Research Project Manager in the Analytics Department at Universum Global. I was hired by the company after applying via their LinkedIn ad and undergoing several rounds of interview. My job includes market research and working with the data analysis team with the purpose of helping clients to build their brand and attract employees. 

Our main outreach project consists of an annual survey available in more than 40 countries, where we ask potential talent to identify their preferences about their ideal job, employer and workplace, as well as their career goals. We want to understand what the potential talent group is looking for and why they would choose certain companies over others. Then once we are approached by a client, we can help them attract their target employees better. Because of the size of our data sets, we can, for example, calculate where a company loses talent, and thus pinpoint and provide advice to our clients on how to maximize their reach and where to put their efforts to attract the talent they need.

Describe a day on the job. How has your education at KI helped you?

I coordinate projects in six countries, spanning three continents. I do big data analysis, which is quite challenging, but my background as a scientist is certainly helpful. Thanks to my scientific training, I can work more efficiently with recognizing patterns, critical analysis of data and interpretation. I’d say I approach my work in two steps: identify the key problem by systematically scrutinizing data and finding the best ways to solve this key issue. It’s these skills that I acquired from the Master’s programme that definitely help me with my current job. I definitely don’t regret changing direction from science to business. 

Read how her work has been affected by Covid-19.

Tell me about your passion project, SheSupp, and your role.

SheSupp is a community which brings together and supports emerging women entrepreneurs. I work as a community and events manager. We had our first run of our accelerator program last year with twelve participants. This program gives entrepreneurs the knowledge and tools to support their own business. We organize weekly sessions with experts in fields from marketing through social media to financial investments. The SheSupp Instagram page is continuously updated, so check it out for daily entrepreneurial inspiration!
 

What are your future aspirations?

My long-term goal is to be a consultant because I can work on a wide range of projects related from healthcare to governmental policy and everything in between. Variety is important to me. As a consultant you need different skills, such as the ability to communicate well with clients, to scale down big problems to constitutive smaller issues to tackle one by one, to identify the key problem and the strategies needed to solve it well. To me, being a consultant is about having the mindset to find and solve problems and I’m naturally a problem solver, so this would be my future dream job.
 

What is your advice to prospective students?

Go to KI! I enjoyed my time there. The programme was challenging and - at times - even overwhelming, but the education you get is valuable! Take as much as you can from the opportunities KI offers - you will meet a lot of people from all around the world, with different cultures and backgrounds and build a strong network. The benefits of living in Stockholm and being immersed in Swedish culture is not to be underestimated either.
 

Your best tips for current students?

Don’t be afraid! My classmates have stayed in science and/or research, either in academia by doing a PhD or employed at a pharma company. Those are not the only paths in front of you. Don’t be afraid to change your field- the skills you gained at KI are definitely transferable. Don’t be afraid to do what you really want and don’t get stuck doing something you don’t enjoy. Doing a PhD always seemed too narrow for me, as it wouldn’t allow me to use my social skills. The way I see it, you should see what’s out there and explore, and you can always go back to do your PhD if you change your mind.

I followed my dreams and ambitions even when people around me were telling me I should take the beaten path. It is indeed not easy to find a non-science related job when you have such an academic background with only research as professional experience. However, I had the willpower to go out of science and academia and I succeeded in the end. I’m happy with what I’m doing now, but I’m also glad and proud that I went to KI and that I have this extensive scientific background.