Our Stories

Immersing Herself in the Community

In pivoting back to healthcare, biotech pro helps build DEI at Owen

Kelly Szteinbaum – MBA
General Leadership Development Associate, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Vanderbilt University MBA 2022

When she began her career in biotech, Kelly Szteinbaum worked closely with Canadian clinicians to facilitate process improvements that helped physicians obtain faster genetic testing for patients—a system that was later replicated and expanded. Though she was proud of that accomplishment, and of her budding career in the field, she pivoted to become a preschool teacher, positioning herself to eventually lead her family’s business in California.

When her interests swung back to healthcare—she served as team lead on a consulting project for a medical device startup in Israel seeking to enter the U.S. market—Kelly knew it was time to pursue an MBA.

“I wasn't sure if I wanted to take over the family business, or if I wanted to pivot back into healthcare,” Kelly says. “An MBA gave me that flexibility to learn new skills and then decide which kind of career path would best serve me moving forward.”

Vanderbilt rose to the top of her list for its well-known healthcare MBA program and because, as Kelly puts it, “the size was really perfect: not too small and not too big. You really know everyone in the program without it feeling too small.”

At Vanderbilt, Kelly immersed herself in the community as much as in her coursework, especially through her involvement with student initiatives. She served as vice president for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) for the Owen Student Government Association, helping plan events that included the school’s first affinity leadership summit to promote inclusive leadership.

She also served as president of Out and Allied, helping to bring diverse members of the community together. Members of the club, Kelly says, “are all really passionate about making sure that Vanderbilt is a safe place for people of any identity. The LGBTQ+ community at Owen is small, but we worked to spread the message that you don’t have to identify as LGBTQ+ to engage with us and be an ally. The Closing Bell we sponsored—with an amazing drag queen and dancing—became legendary.”

Kelly’s experience at Vanderbilt ultimately clarified her career path. Back in her native California, she’s on the global leadership track with Thermo Fisher Scientific, a $40-billion company focused on helping customers find solutions in areas ranging from cancer treatment to food safety and environmental protection.

Fun Fact: Kelly is a fitness instructor who has taught cycling and Zumba and now teaches megaformer, a full-body muscle tension workout.

You really know everyone in the program without it feeling too small.