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MBS Alum and Amgen Leader Shares IndustryTalk on Strategy and Operations

Applying the team-based experience that he gained at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), Matthew Verbrugge ’10 has found a home at Amgen as a senior manager in strategic planning and operations.

An alumnus of the Master of Bioscience (MBS) program, Verbrugge returned to campus on Thursday, March 2, to present an IndustryTalk to the KGI community.

“It is special to be at a point in my career where I can come back to KGI and give a meaningful talk about my experiences,” Verbrugge said. “It’s an incredible honor to be asked to come back, especially when you see some of the other people that are on the list. I hope that I can provide insight to the students about how to start a career and how to leverage the KGI skillset into a job.”

After growing up in San Jose, Verbrugge attended UC Davis and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 2006.

“During my time in Davis, KGI professor Matt Croughan came to talk,” Verbrugge said. “A classmate attended the talk and recommended I get in contact with Professor Croughan. I emailed Matt and we realized we had some connections and common interests. He also plugged the courses he was starting and the KGI program. It matched what I wanted to do in grad school with bioprocessing and the connection to industry.” When Verbrugge enrolled at KGI in fall 2008, he gained a better understanding of the MBS program’s powerful impact at the intersection of science and business.

“The breadth of courses is what stands out the most about my KGI experience,” he said. “With all of the business courses connected to the life sciences industry, you acquire so much knowledge about how it is all related.

“The other important element is teamwork. Undergrad is very much an individual exercise, and this was very much a team exercise. Now being in the industry, everything is about working in teams. You do not get things done in a silo. You have to work with other people to get data and integrate findings.”

In continuing his connection with Croughan and taking advantage of other networking opportunities, Verbrugge earned a summer internship at Amgen in 2009.

“Networking isn’t just about getting the job,” Verbrugge said. “It’s also about getting the job done once you start. Even once you enter a company, it’s important to connect and network within the organization to get the information you need and bring teams together. The networking doesn’t stop when you get the job.”

Verbrugge started as a full-time Amgen employee in June 2010, serving as a senior associate project manager for more than two years. He moved up in the ranks and started his current role of strategic planning and operations senior manager in July 2015. Within the workforce of Amgen’s current and previous employees, Verbrugge is one of 68 KGI graduates.

“On a regular basis, I have been able to work on teams with other KGI alumni,” he said. “As a group, it feels like we have an extra level of synergy.”

Amgen is one of KGI’s important industry connections, and the company provides tremendous support for summer internships and the Team Master’s Projects (TMP). One of KGI’s research centers, the Amgen Bioprocessing Center (ABC), was created in 2004 with a generous gift from the Amgen Foundation. A new $1.5 million gift from Amgen is supporting the launch of a KGI Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling two-year master’s degree program.