Jordan Hansen ’18 Huntbridge, Inc. – This summer, thanks to the Lilly Endowment, I have had the luxury of working alongside Wabash alumnus Jeff Perkins ’89, as a Research Associate for his executive search firm Huntbridge, Inc. allowing me the first-hand insight into the ins-and-outs and challenges a small company faces within the rigor of corporate America.
While talking about my experience with people, I often have to answer what a Research Associate is. It’s more than strictly research—unlike its title may suggest. This summer, as part of being an associate, we have been tasked with engaging, strategizing, and extending relationships with both current and potential clients of our firm. Clients ranged from Amazon to GlaxoSmithKline to ViaSat to the Indiana Bioscience Research Institute—from Technology through the Life Sciences. The mission was to spark a conversation or rekindling a connection that can lead us to form a partnership. What I mean by a “partnership,” is, for them, filling or outsourcing services that would allow us, Huntbridge, to hire the next executive team for their company. Hiring positions range from CEO or CFO to Vice President and beyond. As you can probably infer, it is not a quick or easy process. Due to the fact that the diverse candidates we place, are in integral part to the longevity of many of these large companies. Secondly, partnership can entail additional services that allow us to better place candidates and strategy based on their specific workplace needs, current culture, and vision for the future.
This brings me to my first important “in” or lesson when working for a small company in this environment. My boss, Jeff Perkins, day in and day out, in meetings or in just passing, reiterates the importance of sustaining an exceptional reputation – reputation in the sense that how you interact, conduct work, and follow-up is a direct representation of your brand, both personal and as a company. Therefore, every day that you come to work, it is important to be cognizant of how you are representing and furthering the name of our business. Moreover, it means consistently going above and beyond for the client you’re directly in contact with—the more trust, authenticity, and important you make them feel, the more you can cast a positive light on who you are. In action, this means following-up, handcrafting particular communication or work, and being genuine with previous and current clients to ensure a high-level of customer service and experience.
My main project this summer has consisted of sourcing, researching, and consulting with the Indiana Bioscience Research Institute on the future of their company. I have been a part of a task force that is currently in the process of hiring their next Senior Vice President, Development & Partnerships as well as Director of Research Operations. Additionally, consulting and providing workplace strategy to ensure the company’s mission and team align with the greater vision of the Institute.
This leads to my second takeaway from the summer thus far, adaptability. Being adaptable—calm, cool, and collected—is something that weighs heavily both in the eyes of the employer and in a small company. When working in an arena that is foreign to you (i.e., for me Tech of Life Science), it is important to be adaptable to many types of situations that may arise. For example, one day may include strategy, planning, and collaborating to setup a plan for the client to use at an upcoming board meeting. While another day may consist of contacting potential investors, who are in the market for providing investing for grass roots or pre-clinical research; as a part of the next round of endowment. Here, in two days we have similar, but different tasks. However, being adaptable and possessing the bandwidth to participate and contribute allows you to be a fully engaged and valuable member of your team. In a small business, this pays dividends because it leverages you as a reliable and capable to keep the company moving forward. To me, this example is similar to the epitome of the Wabash liberal arts education. One minute you may be having an in-depth discussion in Ancient Philosophy about Aristotle’s role in happiness to the next day discussing and researching the role of CRISPR for the future of gene editing—adaptable and able to excel in both cases.
As a political science major and history minor, working within the space(s) of biotech, bioscience, and pharmaceuticals has been a bit of a learning curve. However, after research into current trends, guidance by industry leaders, and the Lilly Foundation I have fostered and enhanced my capacity to contribute to these ever-growing and important scientific fields. Pairing this with my Wabash liberal arts education, while working with the Indiana Bioscience Research Institute, has allowed me to ask questions and provide a new and unique perspective, outside the confined borders of the science(s). Additionally, it has lead me to become more and more intrigued with the current life science space and how it relates to the future of America—as medicine, vaccines, and healthcare continue to be a toxic topic in everyday conversation, not just limited to politics.
With just a glimpse into the interaction and daily operations of a small company and corporate America, I am ready to be immersed fully in it post-graduation; to make an impact on the greater good and those around me. From soft skills like reputation and adaptability, I am fully confident that Wabash College and the Lilly Endowment have furthered my interest to springboard me for future endeavors.