From Doctor To Investor: How My MBA Kickstarted An Exciting Career In Life Sciences Venture Capital

Philip BraininAnalyst, MD, PhD, MBA

Aiming to make an impact in his career, certified medical doctor Philip Brainin combined his healthcare expertise with an MBA to launch a career in life sciences venture capital

A keen interest in learning and a desire to help others have defined Philip Brainin’s career so far. Today he is an analyst with a specialist life sciences venture capital fund, but his journey began when he graduated as a medical doctor in Copenhagen in 2017.
While most of his peers became medical practitioners, Philip chose to undertake a PhD, which saw him travel to the US to spend a research period with Harvard Medical School.
After earning his doctorate, he spent a year working in a clinic before again opting for a more research-led path. “I wasn’t sure that was the right thing for me. I actually preferred being behind a screen,” he says.
Philip traveled to Brazil, where he worked with local healthcare startups to investigate links between Malaria and heart disease. The impactful work he witnessed showed him the value that businesses could bring in improving patients’ lives.
“That was what ignited my interest in the business world and looking into things beyond the hospital and academic setting. That was my first step into looking into MBA opportunities.”

Enrolling in the CBS MBA
When deciding where to study his MBA, Philip was attracted to the opportunity to study within a rich healthcare ecosystem at Copenhagen Business School (CBS). Denmark’s capital is a major European hub for pharmaceutical startups, while healthcare and life sciences are among the most popular industries for CBS MBA graduates.
CBS boasted small class sizes and a highly diverse classroom—the current MBA cohort features students from around 20 nationalities. Speaking with alumni and students on the program, Philip learned of the school’s intimate learning environment.
“You have people with very different cultural backgrounds, so you still maintain a global outlook despite it being a small class,” he says. “You also have easy access to faculty and that means you can very quickly get feedback and good insights.”
A specialist entrepreneurship track would also allow Philip to build on what he’d learned while working with startups in Brazil. Combined with a generalist business curriculum covering areas ranging from human resources to accounting to strategy, the CBS MBA offered him a platform for future success.

Enhancing his career prospects
Reflecting on his time in the CBS MBA, Philip feels one of the most impactful experiences was the Leadership Discovery Process (LDP), which takes place throughout the year.
The LDP gives students the chance to take part in tailored workshops and gain mentorship from external consultants, before completing a multi-day leadership simulation exercise.
“It’s a place where you combine theoretical knowledge with your previous experiences,” Philip explains. “You’re in this sandbox environment where you’re continuously being surveyed by professional consultants.”
This practical simulator exercise, paired with various in-class discussions and projects, meant Philip spent much of his MBA working closely with his fellow classmates. He says this helped develop his interpersonal and communication skills, while he also learned from their diverse perspectives.
“It was such a unique mix of people with different cultural and working experiences. That made our classroom discussions the perfect forum for exchanging perspectives and opinions,” he says.
Through various initiatives provided by the CBS career services—including personalized mentorship and visits to nearby companies—Philip had the chance to build his network within the wider Copenhagen ecosystem while also gaining an insight into a variety of different career paths.
This proved helpful when he began considering his career options post-MBA: “It enabled me in a very confident way to take that leap and branch into a new career path with all the support I could have ever wanted.”

Launching a career in venture capital
Philip’s first introduction to venture capital came through the CBS MBA career service. Connecting him with professionals working in the sector, he was able to learn more about the daily life of a venture capitalist. These connections also provided a route into the competitive sector.
Deciding to pursue a career in the industry, Philip encountered Sound Bioventures, a VC firm that invests in private clinical stage biotechnology companies, while searching for opportunities.
While still studying his MBA, Philip successfully applied for an analyst role which he entered after leaving CBS.
A year since joining the firm, Philip’s role requires him to search for researchers with strong medical ideas that could have a large impact on patient care. Those with strong potential then receive funding from Sound Bioventures.
The job requires him to utilize his financial expertise to evaluate opportunities, while also relying on his well-rounded business acumen and previous academic and clinical experience.
“These researchers typically need people with experience in starting companies and driving growth development. And that is where I come in as an investor,” he explains. “It requires me to see the entire journey from having an idea and a concept and transferring that into the clinic where medical doctors will use it.”
With his venture capital journey now well underway, Philip is satisfied the MBA helped him achieve what he set out to do when enrolling in the program.
“I’m in a more challenging job, and it allows me to keep exploring things that I don’t know while also allowing me to help patients. The MBA has been extremely important for making this leap from going from hospital into business.”

This article was originally published on (6 October 2023 by Matt Kefford).


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