Our Stories

Turning Science into Business

Hentrel goes from catching up to getting ahead

Kristen Hentrel
Consultant at c3/consulting
Director, Ankura

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2013

After joining Transnetyx as a scientist who designs genetic tests, Kristen Hentrel quickly came to appreciate one of the realities of being part of a fast-growing startup in the biotech field. “You have the ability to learn about every aspect of the business,” she says—and she realized that her true interest was management, not science.

She also came to appreciate another reality: She wasn’t prepared. “I found myself getting left behind in management discussions because I didn’t understand business,” she recalls. One day, while driving, she heard about the Vanderbilt Executive MBA on the radio. “I knew instantly it was exactly what I needed. It offered the flexibility I needed as a working mom in Memphis, and having access to the Vanderbilt alumni network was the icing on the cake.”

During her two years, Kristen learned, among other skills, how to take an idea; explain its underlying strategic value; estimate the costs, resources and time required to see a return on investment; and assess the potential customer impact. Those new skills, in turn, led to a promotion.

“Owen taught me how to make a strategic transition while leveraging my scientific background,” says Kristen, who earned her first master’s degree from the Université Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. “My experience has been truly life-changing. The lessons were more profound and the experience much richer than I could have imagined.

“You leave a different person. To use a baseball analogy, it’s as if you start wanting to improve your swing so you can hit a home run, but you leave trying to figure out how to buy the team.”

Learn more about the Executive MBA program.