Master of Science in Biotechnology Program, UW-Madison

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Case Study: Tanesha Norris

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Seizing the opportunity to change career trajectory.

Tanesha Norris's career had hit the ceiling and there were no more opportunities for her skill level as a Scientist II and interim program manager. She had experience leading a cross-functional team and managing customer compounds and custom assays, but was interested in learning more about the commercialization of new products and developing her personal knowledge of project management and the business side of the biotechnology industry.

Beyond the role of bench scientist.

Tanesha felt that obtaining a Master of Science in Biotechnology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison would provide her with the tools necessary to continue her career development. She also hoped this endeavor would serve as a stepping stone so that eventually she could help guide others in their science careers by teaching at the collegiate level.

"I wanted to reach my full potential and take control of the direction my career was heading in."

Tanesha has put the majority of the knowledge she gained through the program to practice in her career. For example, the information that she learned through the project management and manufacturing courses has been invaluable to helping her select the correct team resources, budget for manufacturing and plan quality testing experiments. Tanesha has used the information and skills she acquired throughout the M.S. in Biotechnology program to see the big picture when a project is presented to her and better analyze the critical path to a commercial launch.

Growth leading to rapid advancement.

Tanesha was promoted to project manager by her employer upon graduation from the M.S. in Biotech program. After serving in that position for less than a year, she decided to apply for a more challenging role that had more of a business focus. During the interview, Tanesha was asked very pointed questions pertaining to the commercialization of new products and managing teams. She was also asked to create a presentation on managing without authority, which she remembered discussing in one of the M.S. in Biotechnology courses. This experience equipped Tanesha with the confidence to answer the questions easily and earned her praise from the interview team for her ideas about management.

"I would never have dreamed of doing what I am now without the confidence I built while completing the program."

From Wisconsinite to global biotechnology strategist.

Ultimately, Tanesha was offered the job, which she accepted along with a $30,000 annual pay raise from her previous role. Tanesha was hired as a Project Manager for Roche NimbleGen, where she traveled in connection to many exciting projects. One project led her to Cape Town, South Africa where she assisted with the integration of a research company that Roche acquired. Tanesha most recently was promoted to Director/Project Leader where she continues to lead the completion of large-scale global projects for Roche's Molecular Diagnostics division in San Francisco, California.

The knowledge and leadership skills Tanesha developed during the Master of Science in Biotechnology program enable her to understand the broader strategic needs of her employers when making decisions and guide diverse functional teams throughout her company.


Master of Science in Biotechnology Program
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Established in 2002, the Master of Science in Biotechnology at UW-Madison is a two-year cross-disciplinary program for scientists, technical professionals, business strategists and attorneys seeking to advance their career in the biotechnology field without having to put their career on hold. The hands-on curriculum focuses on the development and commercialization of new technologies and provides a diverse mix of science, business, bioethics, public policy, law and intellectual property. Students are instructed by some of the best academics, professionals and lawyers in the biotechnology field. Currently there are over 300 alumni continuously advancing their careers with their M.S. in Biotechnology degree.

Question about the degree?
Contact Bryan

Bryan Husk
Assistant Director
Phone: (608) 265-0773
Contact Bryan Husk, Assistant Director, M.S. in Biotechnology Program, UW-Madison
Tanesha Norris
Tanesha Norris
Class of 2015
Director, Project Leader

Roche NimbleGen Thermo Fisher Scientific Life Technologies