From California to Belgium Alum Jay Kelley is Moving Up
He began as a bioengineering major from the University of California, San Diego and wound up at age 33 based in Europe as Senior Manager of Global Training and Education at Medtronic, an international medical technology corporation. As a Keck Graduate Institute alum, Jay Lee Kelley (MBS '05) started working for start-up companies before becoming part of a global enterprise.
"You have to work harder and smarter in a start-up environment," Kelley says, "But you can learn faster and grow into increasing positions of responsibility and challenge based on merit and results." Having only recently joined Medtronic, Kelley is quickly learning what it takes to work for a multinational operation.
Kelley believes it was serendipity that brought him to KGI. Before he knew about KGI's Master of Bioscience (MBS) program, he took the GRE, thinking he would pursue a PhD in bioengineering. After getting numerous emails and phone calls from other graduate programs, Kelley received a hand-written note from the director of admissions at KGI, asking him if he would like to learn about the program and visit the campus. He came out to Claremont and was sold after meeting members of the KGI faculty.
From California to Belgium
Another lucky occurrence happened to Kelley while at KGI, coming in between his first and second years in the MBS program. While attending a job fair at KGI's sister institution, Harvey Mudd College, he spoke with a J&J representative about a summer internship in the area of engineering. To his surprise the recruiter suggested Kelley pursue marketing as his career choice.
"If you can speak the language of a variety of people, you belong in marketing," Kelley says, reflecting on his combination of engineering and business knowledge. With his "go out and get it" attitude, Kelley took a position at Biosense Webster, a J&J company, in Diamond Bar, Calif., following graduation from KGI.
"The HR people were simply fixated on getting me into the marketing department because of my work history and KGI experience," he says. "I got lucky!"
It wasn't long before Kelley was promoted to an "intra-preneurial" joint venture within J&J that was more interdisciplinary and involved more than just marketing. At that point in his young career he figured small companies were his path of choice.
He then joined an ambitious start-up company, Ablation Frontiers, a medical device business focused on innovative catheter-based therapies for treating atrial fibrillation, the most common kind of heart rhythm disturbance. In addition to the company's mission, Kelley was drawn to work for Ablation because of four magical words a company official said to him: "We'll send you abroad." He wound up living in Brussels, Belgium, and traveled throughout Europe as part of his job. He eventually worked his way up to Senior Manager of Global Marketing by the time Medtronic acquired Ablation Frontiers in February 2009.
Now in charge of Global Training & Education within Medtronic's newly formed business unit, AF Solutions, Kelley and his colleagues continue to operate with the flexibility and innovative mind-set of small-company, even though he's part of a large corporation. "At a small company, you have to want to know about everything," says Kelley. "You need to be inter-disciplinary and cross-functional. You need to appreciate every employee and aspect of the company. This is equally important in the start-up realm as in our new role within Medtronic."
Life at KGI
Kelley reflects fondly on his time at KGI. Although he worked hard, he relished the opportunity to maximize his education. Kelley also enjoyed the cross-functional curriculum, and the ability to play intramural sports.
Now in industry for a few years, he looks back and appreciates KGI's multi-disciplinary education that prepared him to work with various function groups and customers. He also learned early on that in industry results are all that matter. "Good employers will acknowledge good outcomes," he says. "You have to be seriously proud of what you have accomplished and be able to consistently demonstrate success."
His advice to current MBS students is to see every challenge as an opportunity. "Let's say you're on one side of a river, and an opportunity is on the other side," he says. "Don't say, 'If the river wasn't there, we could get that opportunity.' Say, 'How do we get there?' The question should be, 'Who's going to seize that opportunity first?'"
He also suggests that students "be myopic but don't get tunnel vision." Have some fun and be sure to form relationships with your classmates. After all, "These people may work with you in the future."
- by Rachelle Fryd
Educating the future leaders of the bioscience industry, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) offers an interdisciplinary graduate education through its Master of Bioscience (MBS) degree program and its PhD program in Applied Life Sciences. Using team-based learning and real-world projects, KGI's innovative curriculum seamlessly combines applied life sciences, bioengineering, bioethics and business management. KGI also has a robust research program concentrating on the translation of basic discoveries in the life sciences into applications that can benefit society. KGI is a member of The Claremont Colleges, located in Claremont, California.
Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences is dedicated to education and research aimed at translating into practice, for the benefit of society, the power and potential of the life sciences.