In February of this year First Year student Matt Steinschneider interviewed Class of 2018 alum Manish Tewani.
Matt: What would be your elevator pitch?
Manish: My quick elevator pitch is all about my experience with my MBA. I started out with a consulting firm right out of bachelor’s in India, did pharma consulting for 3 years, analytics and marketing, and wanted to grow my business side on top of technical side. I did my MBA with the Nielsen center, then went back to pharma on the client side at AbbVie.
My recent move is all about trying to work in smaller companies to get closer to leadership decisions and have more impact on decision making process from a marketing analytics perspective. Analytics and marketing have been my bread and butter because that’s where I’ve spent my career, both on the consulting side and for two years client side.
Matt: What brought you into analytics?
Manish: Growing up I always had an analytical mindset for math and solving problems. Both analytics and market research are all about problem solving and creating the pieces the right way to solve the puzzle. I think that’s the crux of it. The problem-solving aspect is what got me in.
Matt: What brought you to UW, and the transition from supply side to client side?
Manish: I think working in India on the consulting side, I got great technical skills, but I felt like I was far away from the decision-making process. I was great at getting things done and solving problems, but when it came to designing those problems, the business questions, that’s where I needed more exposure and more work, and the program at UW really gave me that platform to take that forward into my career and build that mindset.
On the client side, you’re that much closer to the problems you’re solving. I came into the program with an open mind. I didn’t necessarily want to go back to pharma, but I just so happened to end up back there. I love pharma, especially the oncology side, because of the impact it has on patient’s lives.
Matt: How was the transition coming out of the MBA and starting at AbbVie?
Manish: The transition for me was not as hard as for it might be for a career switcher. I had exposure to pharma, analytics, and market research. I felt like I had a solid base to work off. I felt right away I was able to really use the skills I learned from the MBA program in my work and hit the ground running.
Thinking of it from the perspective of it from someone without a pharma background, it would have been a little challenging. At school, you have the whole business – strategy, market research, designing. Whereas in a company and in a job, you have one, two, or three projects, and you aren’t necessarily controlling strategy and direction for a particular brand or service.
Matt: It’s quite interesting how backgrounds tie into career paths.
Manish: Every career journey is different. Everyone comes into the program at different stages of life, and it’s very important for everyone to not compare too much with others. It’s best to focus on your own journey instead of comparing to classmates or peers, because speaking from personal experience, I’ve been burned before trying to see if I’m growing at the same pace. It’s more important to focus on your own opportunities and your own growth.
Matt: Speaking of opportunities, what project at AbbVie are you most proud of?
Manish: A project that is very close to my heart and something I’m very proud if is a sale analytics project. We were trying to help our sales force get more data that they can easily understand and act on. They were having a lot of trouble with their tools. Essentially, we worked on with the sales operations folks and designed how the data should be sent to the field. I presented recommendations on which data should be shown, and how it should be presented, and how it would affect physicians and patients.
My recommendations were well received, and the field gave us really positive feedback. It was much easier for them to understand the data, how it flowed, and how it informed their actions.”
Matt: So this was more about how to analyze the data than about gathering data?
Manish: 80 or 90% of the data was already there, but it’s hard to interpret data. It was more a question of showing the data in a way that it could be understood and result in insights. For sales, you want to focus on the most important highlights and next steps without struggling too much with the data. It was a lot of restructuring and simplification.
Matt: When we spoke earlier, you mentioned moving to Seattle – what’s next on the horizon?
Manish: I’m starting my new job on Monday. It’s a pharma company called Seattle genetics. They are only oncology; they have one product on the market and a few upcoming launches. It’s an exciting time to be at that company. AbbVie has or thousands of employees worldwide, so its’ a big shift in mindset. I’m really excited for the new move.”
Matt: What’s one thing you would tell current UW students?
Manish: I am a bit of an anomaly – I would recommend students to stick it out with their first job at least 3-4 years to get more established. Cast a wider net in terms of the network, and build equity. I already had a big network from my previous job so I felt I could be more aggressive in my career and go for a higher role. Generally, I recommend getting the most out of your first job before making your next move.
Matt: Last question: any passions outside of analytics you’d like to share?
Manish: I am a big sports buff. Any and all sports. I follow a lot of sports back home, like cricket. I did not know a thing about American football before coming here, but I love it now. I am excited to go to Seattle because it’s so friendly to people who like being outside.
I am also excited to get away from the cold and see some mountains for a change!
Matt: Manish, thank you very much for this interview.