Hello Bio Careers community!
To introduce myself, my name is Dave Galgoczy. I work in a few roles, such as an independent technology consultant with startup industrial biotech companies, and as an expert consultant for financial firms. Consulting fits my skills, interests, and need for variety, and allows me to lend my expertise where it’s most needed.
For my first post on Bio Careers, I will describe my path and some of what I do. I received a PhD in genetics from the University of California, San Francisco in 2007, where I studied how genetic circuits evolve. I enjoyed launching this whole new area of research in my thesis lab, and setting up collaborations, including a technology collaboration, with Agilent.
Introduction to biotech
Beyond grad school, biotechnology was clearly the path forward for my interests. I was introduced to biotech as an intern in a sizeable venture capital firm. Work in VC was an interesting experience that provided me with a survey of the industry, plenty of new contacts, and a view of how companies are funded and managed.
Joining a rapidly expanding startup
Seeking experience within an actual biotech company, I then went to work at Codexis. I joined as the first hire under a new biofuels partnership with Shell, in a group that soon exploded to over one hundred people. This position brought a wide range of experiences. I scoped technologies, spearheaded projects, and researched and conducted due diligence for a $10MM licensing deal. Great!
As the expansion of the Shell project concluded at Codexis, I went to work with Kiverdi, a small, early stage renewable chemicals company. I worked as a consultant for Kiverdi, then as its Vice President, developing, presenting, and writing about the company and its technology. I continue to work with them as a consultant now, and I also work in a more permanent role with another company.
Leveraging my biotech experience, in 2009, I also became an expert consultant in energy and bioindustrials as part of a few different expert networks. Clients include Fortune 500 companies, management consulting firms, and financial firms. Through these networks, clients call with specific questions and to be brought up to speed quickly about a certain technology, company, or space. This information guides important decisions, and consultants are paid well for their time on the phone. I was introduced to this work by contacts in finance and business, and that’s probably the best way in.
The consultations are strictly confidential, making it challenging to blog about, and work can be sporadic. When a company goes public, several firms may want to schedule calls all at once, and they will want to talk to a consultant within a day or two. Part of what they want to know is whether or not the technology story makes sense. Wall Street pays well for very good expertise. They expect it on their schedule, and they are ONLY interested in very good expertise, so you have to deliver quality.
What does it take to consult as an expert? First, you need to understand your expertise in the context of business and finance, companies and industries. My work in venture capital, financial analysis coursework at Stanford, and reading of business and trade publications greatly expanded my knowledge base and business vocabulary.
Second, you need to create a clear scheme of the technology, complete with numbers, and then walk the caller through that scheme. I received thorough advice on how to structure topics from a business colleague.
The going makes the way
I’ll wrap up with a favorite bit of wisdom that I received from a VC managing director shortly after I graduated. His advice was that many parts of a career aren’t planned ahead of time. Rather, as he put it, “the going makes the way”. So…by moving along, we find our course.