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An interview by Surabhi Gaur '03, July 23, 2001.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Samantha Truex, a Dartmouth '92, Thayer '93 and a Tuck '96. The thing that struck me most about Sam was how she managed to find herself a position within a major company that fit her diverse academic interests.
If you have ever thought that once you choose a science as your major you have narrowed your career options, then you must read on about Samantha Truex (D '92, Thayer '93, Tuck '95). Sam currently works in the business development division of Genzyme, a Massachusetts based biotech company; how she found herself there is an interesting and inspirational story.
Sam grew up in Michigan, which she jokingly said, "was the reason I thought all that engineers did was design cars." Through middle school and high school, Sam naturally excelled in the sciences and mathematics but admitted, "I wouldn't say I dreamt of being a scientist or a doctor."
When she arrived at Dartmouth, Sam headed for the sciences but realized she had to find a mixture within the sciences to satisfy her intellectual interests. Enjoying both engineering and biology, she ended up being a biology major modified with engineering. She completed her undergraduate degree in 1992 but then decided to complete her bachelor's degree in engineering and so stayed on an extra year and graduated from Thayer in 1993. Then Sam tramped across the parking lot and stayed on for another three years to complete her MBA from Tuck. The years in between certainly molded Sam's future career interests.
Sam still remembers the influence of Carol Muller, co-founder of WISP and former Associate Dean of the Thayer School, and credited her with, "really encouraging me to stay involved in science." In addition to Dr. Muller's influence, Sam's interest in science grew from her work experience at a chemical company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She worked there during two separate terms and within time, she began investigating business opportunities. Sam claims, "that is what got me going down the path of getting a business degree focused in the medical arena." Sam cited her supervisor at the chemical company as making "the science aspects of the job fun and interesting." She enjoyed the science component so much that she took organic chemistry upon her return to Dartmouth.
As her time at Dartmouth was drawing to an end, Sam went on the crusade of finding a job and began living in Feldberg Library. Following her graduation from Tuck, she worked for a management consulting firm called Health Advances, which is run by two Dartmouth graduates and seems to be fond of hiring fellow Dartmouth grads. Reflecting upon her time at Health Advances, Sam said, "[the job] gave me good training in business and market issues in the health care field." From there she moved to doing business development for another firm and then finally found the opening she was looking for at Genzyme.
At Genzyme, the bulk of Sam's work involves negotiating deals with other parties (like pharmaceutical companies, other biotech companies or academic institutions) and gaining the rights to access patents. Sam's science expertise helps her evaluate projects' technical merit and her business insight helps her properly analyze projects from a market/financial viewpoint. Sam finds the work environment at Genzyme comfortable. She sees as many women as men in her company which does not surprise her because from what she has seen, "it is not uncommon for women to major in biology." She did admit that upper management is mostly men, although the president of her division is a woman.
When asked if she wished any thing had been different, Sam replied, "I wish that there had been a WISP program with formal science internships during the first year when I was a first year. I wanted a better clue of what people actually do when they major in a science." Sam's comments really brought to light the opportunities that women have now, especially here at Dartmouth.
Sam's story is inspirational in that she was able to fit her academic interests to her career interests. Her diverse capabilities are serving her well in an age when science and business are diverging. As Sam said, "You can always find function within a company — if it's in an industry you have background in, you'll be useful."
Last Updated: 10/20/10