Anna Lisa Somera
Pre-Degree Industry/Field of Work: Biotechnology
Post-Degree Industry/Field of Work: Venture Capital and Consulting
Undergraduate Degree: BS Biology and Anthropology, MS Cellular Biology
Undergraduate Institution: Loyola University (undergrad), Rush University (grad)
Current Employer: Independent consultant to several life science start-up companies and venture capital firms
Why did you return to school to obtain your Graduate Business Degree?
Having worked in biotech and university labs for a number of years, I wanted to get a better understanding of the business behind science. I wanted to explore what was out there for me beyond the lab. To be more marketable, I knew I had to build up a background in business and I obtained that from UIC Liautaud.
With so many schools to choose from in Chicago, why did you choose UIC Liautaud?
UIC's value, location, connections and breadth of programs made it an easy decision to go to business school here.
What has been the most unexpected gain resulting from your UIC Liautaud degree?
I came into the program thinking that I would learn some business fundamentals and see where that would take me in my career. I graduated from the program with so much more. I started and sold a medical device start up company, worked in venture capital and now am my own boss managing 10 clients as a consultant. The most unexpected gain in all of this would have to be the entrepreneurial door that opened for me post-graduation.
How has your UIC Liautaud experience influenced your career to date?
Things that I learned in the classroom, activities that I participated in and connections that I made throughout my Liautaud experience have made me more confident and knowledgeable in what I do today. I used to think I was limited to a career in science, but my Liautaud experience proved that I could do so much more.
Which course or professor was your favorite and why?
Rod Shrader, Tech Ventures. For many reasons, I am grateful to have been part of the inaugural class of the Tech Ventures program. It was definitely a crash course in start ups where Rod pushed us so hard, but it resulted in significant gains.
What was your favorite aspect of the UIC Liautaud program?
The flexibility and depth of the programs made it possible to not only get a double masters at UIC, but also to continue working while going to school. Night and online classes made it much easier to balance everything.
How would you define the Liautaud student?
The typical Liautaud student is someone who has incredible drive and the potential to lead. All of my classmates were "hungry" to succeed.
Now that you've graduated, what advice do you have for prospective UIC Liautaud students?
I would advise current and future UIC Liautaud students to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them while taking classes. Playing the student card has its perks such as making connections, doing internships and participating in activities such as business plan competitions.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share with the Liautaud community?
OrthoAccel Technologies, the medical device company I cofounded with other MBA students at UIC, was not only acquired after we graduated, but also received FDA clearance. The product is being sold worldwide. None of this could have happened without our UIC Liautaud experience.
Click below to see what PROFESSOR ROD SHRADER has to say about the UIC Entrepreneurship Program: