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Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Larsen

Ryan Larsen graduated from NC State with a Master’s of Microbial Biotechnology (MMB) in 2019. During the summer of 2019, he completed a Product Development Internship at Elanco, and then went on to complete his MBA in 2020. Now, Ryan works in forecasting and analytics for Legend Biotech.

We reached out to Ryan to find out about his experiences since graduating.

Can you tell us a little about what you do at Legend Biotech?

“I currently work for Legend Biotech, a biopharmaceutical company focusing on Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapeutics. Our first product is coming to market this year. I work in forecasting and analytics, helping to support the commercial wing of the business through analysis of the market and projection of future impacts to our sales trajectory.”

Where did you work before Legend Biotech?

“My current job is a fairly recent move. Prior to that, I worked for Seqirus, an influenza vaccine manufacturer, as a Global Product Manager for their adjuvanted influenza vaccine brand ‘Fluad’. It was a wild ride to be in vaccines during the early stages of the pandemic, but I’m grateful to be back in oncology.”

What do you enjoy most about your career?

“My career as a whole has been varied from the bench to the boardroom. In my current role, I enjoy that I can use that varied experience to effectively communicate with others and break down silos. I then get to take those insights and translate them into larger analyses that help drive the strategic direction of the company.

For example, I remember a situation where there was a clear lack of understanding between a brand team and the supply organization. Because of my experience in MMB, I had the vernacular to speak with my manufacturing colleagues and understand their concerns, and then translate that to my commercial colleagues in terms that they could understand. This helped to resolve an ongoing problem and to align the respective organizations in the same direction.” 

What do you consider your biggest accomplishment in your career?

“Getting the first job after my MBA. I graduated just as the pandemic was kicking off and was so grateful for the opportunity. My first role was as a Global Product Manager for Seqirus, a leading player in influenza vaccines. In that role, I helped to market and build brand strategy. Through that work, I helped to plot a series of product features that will enhance the experience for both patients and treaters in the coming years. It was a privilege to work to better public health during such a tumultuous time and to work in vaccines during a time when so many people were interested!”

What do you miss most about NC State?

“NC State gave great opportunities to dig into a variety of subject areas. The MMB program in particular gave such a breadth of experiences in a consulting-like environment that helped to prepare me to think broadly and inclusively, and then to create plans to deliver results. Learning in that diverse environment from a wide array of experiences is truly unique and is something that I miss.”

Do you have any advice for current MMB students?

“Dig in and learn as much as you can. In industry, people do not know that they want the breadth of experience that the MMB program can offer. Learn how to tell your story in a way that illustrates your breadth of skill sets and responds to the needs of your future employers without too much jargon. Every person that I meet is impressed by the breadth of what you can experience in the MMB program, but it is up to you to persuade them that those skills are the right fit for that position. Do not underestimate the power of networking, even though it is hard!”

Do you have any advice for students considering the MMB/MBA dual degree?

“If you have aspirations to do the MBA, get in contact with the MBA program early and have them help you land supporting internships along your path. They can help build your vision for the future and know what steps you need to take to better your prospects upon graduation.”

Ryan and his wife, Jeanette, at a massive waterfall in Iceland on a recent trip. 

What do you do for fun?

“In my spare time, I love to cook, bake (gotta love yeast!), read, spend time with friends, video games (like any good millennial) and travel.”

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

“Keep trucking. If you ever need help, make sure to reach out to alumni. We remember what it is like to be in your shoes and can help!”