On a campus like Universidad Europea, it's hard not to have fond memories.

Patricia is an Alumni of the Biotechnology Degree from the Universidad Europea de Madrid. After finishing her graduate studies at the University Riverside California, Patricia works as Account Manager at Thermo Fisher.

Who are you? Which campus did you study at? What degree did you do and why did you choose Universidad Europea?

My name is Patricia Hazen and I’m 29 years old. I graduated in Biotechnology at the Villaviciosa de Odón Campus at Universidad Europea. I also did a postgraduate degree at California, Riverside. My university career began by studying Medicine, but I soon discovered that it wasn’t the right choice for me, despite my passion for science. This passion prompted me to explore a career in Biotechnology, which was relatively new at the time. I made the decision thanks to my brothers’ friend who recommended it to me, and it was definitely a turning point that completely changed my life.

 Was it falling in love with biotechnology or falling out of love with medicine that led you to change degree your programme?

It was a love affair with biotechnology. My passion for medicine is still there, and I find it a fascinating profession. However, I realised that my future didn’t lie in becoming a doctor, but in a different field of science. From that moment on, I began to research and discovered that a career in biotechnology offered a wide range of opportunities. This would allow me to make choices in the future, either focusing on the corporate world or continuing with research and lab work.

 What were your university years like?

My university years were very much a period of self-discovery. At 19, I didn't have a specific goal in mind. As I progressed in my career, I made my own path. I have some unforgettable memories from the close relationship between teachers and students, as well as my experiences during my internship at the university and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III. I enjoyed going to class and was rarely absent. I actually had a great time.

 What would you tell a current Biotechnology student about what awaits them as part of their degree?

Biotechnology encompasses a wide range of skills and knowledge. It draws on the fundamentals of pure biology, chemistry and crosses over with fields such as engineering, physics and thermodynamics. In other words, it’s a multidisciplinary area that gives you the chance to engage in science without necessarily being limited to research. It offers numerous opportunities and career paths.

 So, how many years did you spend at university? What memories do you have of that time?

I was at the university for a total of 5 years, including the time I spent studying Medicine. I spent my last year at Riverside. I have great memories of that time. I really enjoyed it.

My biotech class was a relatively small group, which meant we were like a sort of family. We were also very proactive and enthusiastic about learning.

At a campus like Universidad Europea, it’s hard not to have good memories. We had access to all the facilities we could have hoped for: a large gym, several libraries, well-equipped labs and a really international student atmosphere.

You've only mentioned the good things. What was the hardest part about that time?

Some of the subjects were difficult, especially the more technical ones. I still remember the sweat and tears that I put into the thermodynamics and genetic engineering exams. I did fail a few times (laughs).

What was your final year like at Riverside?

The university offered a bilateral agreement that gave us the chance to study a postgraduate course in bioengineering business management at the University of California, Riverside during our fourth year. Several of my classmates and I didn’t hesitate for a second and grabbed the opportunity.

My biggest motivation to make this decision was my desire for an international experience. Up to that point I’d been immersed in lab life, but I didn’t see myself spending my life there. I was drawn to the idea of focusing more on business and chose to follow that path.

The experience then became an exciting adventure. We mixed with students from different countries studying a wide range of subjects across science and social sciences. During the first term we immersed ourselves in subjects we knew very little about: marketing, finance and human resources. We spent the rest of the year adapting to a very American lifestyle, on a huge campus where we had to find our classrooms, surrounded by cheerleaders and football players. It was incredible.

This change marked an important turning point in my personal life. It was the first time I left home and moved to a different country, ready to face life independently. This experience was also decisive in defining my approach to the world of work. After my last lab internship, I made the decision to go into business as opposed to research.

They have fond memories of you at Riverside. Can you tell us what made you such a remarkable person?

I’ve always achieved good grades, but I was never top of the class. My strengths are my outgoing nature and passion for meeting new people. I even had the honour of being selected to give the graduation speech. If there’s one thing that stands out about me, it’s my ability to connect with people and my people skills.

What was your transition into the world of work like once you returned from your studies?

As I said, at that time it was clear to me that I wanted to focus on the business world. I was given the opportunity to do an internship at a pharmaceutical company, Astellas Pharma, where I worked as an intern supporting the marketing and sales departments. I stayed at Astellas Pharma for a year before joining a graduate programme at Merck, a different pharmaceutical company. My role at Merck was to provide technical support to our customers on issues related to research products.

I spent a few years at Merck in the same role, but over time the job started to become a bit tedious, and I was looking for more significant professional development. That was when my mum made a suggestion: "Patu" (that’s what they call me at home), "with your profile and personality you could excel in sales". An opportunity arose at Thermo Fisher, Merck’s direct competitor and I decided to take the leap into sales.

Did it meet your expectations? Was your mum right?

When isn’t a mum right? (laughs) My mum’s suggestion really was a good fit for my profile. Despite having no sales experience and having worked mainly in the more technical side of the business, I realised that I would be good at it.

The transition was challenging, and it was right in the midst of the pandemic. The first few months, including the interviews, was all done virtually while I was working from home.

Over time, I managed to develop in the role and I was promoted to Account Manager in June this year.

How did you adapt to that?

It was hard because I didn't have the chance to communicate with my colleagues face to face. Via Microsoft Teams everything was a bit more impersonal. However, my team is amazing and working in sales can be a bit lonely, so it wasn't so bad.

 What’s your day-to-day life like in your new role?

Before I was promoted, I was responsible for Inside Sales, which meant that I was in charge of customers across Spain, including regions such as Asturias, Murcia, Castilla y León, as well as part of Catalonia and Valencia. I was in contact with them online on a daily basis.

Now I manage fewer but larger accounts, all in the Madrid area. Each week I visit various hospitals and universities across the city. My work focuses on selling research equipment and consumables used in molecular, cell and protein biology. Universities and hospitals need these products for their research projects.

What are your next goals?

My goal is to grow in this role, gain experience and earn the trust of the customers. I aspire to take on more responsibilities and contribute to business growth.

What advice would you give to a student or future student after what you have learned over the last few years?

I’d recommend that they make the most of their time at university, both personally and academically. It’s important to keep in mind that there are lots of opportunities in life, but being successful requires both effort and constant work. You’ll see opportunities pass by, and many of them can take you to wonderful places, but you need to be prepared and willing to grab them. If your first choice doesn’t turn out to be the right one, don’t worry, as there will always be opportunities to rectify and follow a path that makes you feel fulfilled and happy.