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From the Green Berets to Biotech

Orin Brown charts his own course in Vanderbilt MBA program

Orin Brown
Assistant Brand Manager, Digestive Health, Sanofi

Vanderbilt MBA 2018

Thirteen years in the U.S. Army Special Forces — the Green Berets — had already given Orin Brown a huge head start on a number of skills that the Vanderbilt MBA program builds. For example, he had served as project manager for a battalion of approximately 500 soldiers. He had spent much of his time working in countries outside the U.S. (including almost every country on the Arabian Peninsula). “Being exposed to different cultures and structures,” Orin says, “has greatly influenced how I approach problem solving, collaboration and leadership.”

But he knew that he needed to gain more business acumen to transition into a civilian career. Since he had been stationed near Nashville for part of his military service, Orin already knew that “the Vanderbilt brand is synonymous with excellent education.” But it was the school’s culture, he says, that really won him over.

“The culture is as advertised, which is very important to me,” Orin says. “The level of collaboration among the student body is phenomenal. We all arrive with different strengths, and continual collaboration facilitates peer learning. My classmates are extremely talented, and leveraging their experience to enhance my learning has been very helpful.”

Meanwhile, he says, “the ability to chart your own course throughout your MBA experience has been awesome. I came in interested in entrepreneurship, venture capital, health care, finance and technology. That’s a lot to consider, and ill-advised by most job-search experts, but as part of my personality I like to experiment. The faculty and CMC have been supportive. Owen is a place where you can pick a predetermined path, or the staff will support you in chasing whatever goals are important to you.” (Orin’s internship, with Genentech in San Francisco, combines two of those interests, health care and technology.)

As with the Army, Orin appreciates the way Owen leaves no one behind. “The professors do a really good job of making sure everyone has the opportunity learn and grow,” he says. “They have the skill somehow to challenge everyone on different levels, and it is impressive to watch such experienced teachers tailor the classes to such a diverse set of students."



Fun Fact: Orin speaks rudimentary Arabic.

“Owen is a place where you can pick a predetermined path, or the staff will support you in chasing whatever goals are important to you.”