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This Chemist’s Solution for Career Advancement? Earning an MBA

March 27, 2018 //

Anthony M. DiJulio, 33, wanted to be a scientist. After earning a BA in chemistry from Muhlenberg College, in 2006, he immediately landed a job as an associate scientist at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a Swiss multinational company and a major player in the pharmaceutical world.

“They were a big, bad pharma company and I was this 22-year-old kid who didn’t come out of Harvard or MIT,” recalls DiJulio. “I didn’t have that kind of pedigree, but they took a chance on me and I delivered. I was so happy because I loved chemistry—it’s like cooking on steroids! You can take compounds and materials, do the reaction, prove the reaction, and ultimately create a substance that goes into toxicity trials and eventually becomes a drug. I thought that was so cool.”

New career doors open

DiJulio’s goal was to earn a PhD in chemistry. In 2009, while still working at Novartis, he completed an MS in chemistry at Seton Hall. Then something happened that altered his career path forever, and spun his love of chemistry in a completely new, exciting direction.

“A huge opportunity arrived—Novartis gave me a couple million dollars to set up a new lab,” DiJulio says. “Suddenly, I was handling budgets, planning, negotiating, and I loved it. This changed my whole trajectory and made me realize I wanted to do business. I knew that, in order to move up to a leadership position, I needed an MBA.”

Choosing an MBA program

DiJulio was living in New Jersey and traveling regularly to Switzerland for Novartis. He needed a flexible MBA program to accommodate his hectic professional life. And he found the perfect match in the Fox Online MBA program.

“The Fox MBA program allowed me to immediately use what I learned in business situations and it made the finance and the accounting and the economics courses more real to me,” he says. “At that stage, I’d already been through grad school and was more mature as a student, so it was my most enjoyable piece of education, by far.”

DiJulio had great success at Novartis. He climbed the ranks to become a senior scientist, and then a financial controller. However, after completing his MBA in 2012, he decided to take a bold step and move more firmly into the business world.

Finding the perfect job

DiJulio worked for a couple years as a commercial development and strategy associate with Air Products and Chemicals, and then for a few more as a pharmaceutical business development manager for Ashland Inc.

Then, in 2017, DiJulio was offered a job as a business development manager for Lonza, a Swiss chemical and biotechnology company. The new job offer uniquely synthesized his passions for chemistry and business.

“Now I do business and chemistry every day,” he says. “I have to hit numbers, I’m held accountable, and sites are dependent on me to bring in work. I interact with major pharmaceutical companies to develop their products; I work with virtual companies and startups, too. I’m engaged on a business basis and as a chemist, covering everything from finance to formulation and synthesis. It’s a two-pronged approach that links up perfectly with my background.”

Globetrotting

One perk DiJulio discovered along his professional path is travel. In addition to traveling to Switzerland and across the U.S, he has been to Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, China, Ireland, France, and Belgium, among other countries.

“I’ve improved myself as a person by becoming more well-traveled,” he says. “I’m really happy about that.”

“The MBA got me where I am and where I want to go in the future,” he continues. “The opportunities I’ve had in business development would be very rare without an MBA. And I’m definitely more of a resource to a company with an MBA. It was a big investment, for sure, but now I am reaping the benefits of it.”

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