Alumni Profile: Line Martinsen
International Grad Has Enjoyed a Global Career
As the global business director for QIAGEN, Line Martinsen (MBS '02) adapts global marketing strategies to a regional audience spanning academics, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and applied testing.
Along with promoting her company's sample and assay technologies to diverse customer groups, Martinsen is responsible for developing diverse teams. She created from scratch QIAGEN's regional marketing structure in Asia by encouraging communication among reticent Chinese, Korean and Singaporean employees. To foster collaboration, she implemented training exercises and personality assessments.
"In Asia, there are many different types of 'yes,'" explained Martinsen, 33. "Sometimes, yes means yes. Sometimes, it means 'I didn't understand,' sometimes it means 'I will think about it,' and sometimes it means 'no.' You really have to be aware and read the body language and tone of voice to be able to understand the difference."
Martinsen, who now lives and works near Zurich, Switzerland, is visiting KGI this week while traveling on business. She is doling out career advice to students, meeting with faculty and senior administrators, and touring a campus that has changed dramatically since she last saw it nearly a decade ago.
Martinsen credits KGI with honing her cross-cultural communication skills. A Norway native, she pursued an undergraduate major in biochemistry from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology before joining KGI as one of the first international students of the very first Master of Bioscience graduating class. Throughout her career, she has lived in seven countries in Europe, Asia and North America.
"Line was an adventuresome, ambitious young woman willing to seize the opportunity," said Merlene Singleton, KGI's director of alumni relations.
After concentrating on independent research as an undergraduate, Martinsen was impressed by the "can-do" spirit at KGI and the ample opportunities for teamwork. She learned how to leverage the strengths of a company and translate marketplace trends into concrete business objectives while taking supplementary courses at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University, KGI's sister institution. She interned at Nanostream in Pasadena, CA, and worked closely with the biotech company's chief executive officer, Stephen O'Connor, who served on KGI's Advisory Council.
Later, she completed her Team Masters Project (TMP) evaluating biomedical research technologies for Beckman Coulter, which has sponsored more TMPs through the years than any other company. One of the personalized medicine companies Martinsen studied, DxS, was later acquired by QIAGEN.
KGI Research Professor James Cregg helped Martinsen land her first job after graduation by introducing her to a contact at Invitrogen in Carlsbad, CA, a leading company in life sciences and genomics. She was hired on as a product manager for custom services.
"Getting my foot in the door was crucial," she recalled. "I was able to go straight into the marketing role instead of moving up through technical services."
Martinsen joined QIAGEN in 2006, eventually assuming responsibility for the entire QIAsymphony instruments portfolio, the heart of the company's strategy in life science and molecular diagnostics.
"We're enabling researchers to have the most state-of-the-art tools to get the best results and improve efficiencies," she said.
In her spare time, Martinsen enjoys hiking, skiing and reading science fiction and historical novels. Since leaving KGI, she has informally mentored a handful of students who have expressed interest in QIAGEN.
"KGI opened up my eyes to the management of science," she said. "My experience working in teams taught me when to take the lead and when to take a step back."
By Margie Fishman