Julie Vézina, EMBA 08, has spent most of her life being fascinated by human-health research. It’s a passion that has taken her to various corners of the globe, which fits neatly with her love of exploration and travel that has seen her visit nearly 100 of the world’s cities. Already fluent in four languages — French, English, German and Hungarian — Vézina is also learning Japanese and Mandarin as a hobby.
The Montreal native, who moved to Laval at a young age, developed a strong interest in traditional medicines from around the world, also something that dovetails with her chosen path.
Following a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the Université du Québec à Montréal in 1994, Vézina moved to Switzerland and completed her master’s and PhD degrees in 2000, researching Alzheimer’s disease at Novartis AG, in collaboration with the University of Basel. Relocating to Toronto, she had worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the Amgen Research Institute and the department of medical biophysics at the University of Toronto.
“I also had the opportunity to work on challenging research projects dealing with hematopoiesis [the process through which the body manufactures blood cells] and leukemia at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute; rheumatoid arthritis lymphocytic protein markers at the Ontario Cancer Institute; and with asthmatic inflammatory responses at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.”
It was while she was working on her bachelor’s degree that she met the man who would become her husband, Thomas Kiss, a researcher in the same field from Toronto, who was working for a time at the Clinical Research Institute. Their respective academic supervisors were collaborators in research. Kiss now works as an associate professor of medicine at the Université de Montréal and a hematologist at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.
EMBA program offers ‘whole package’
Coupled with Vézina’s thirst for scientific discovery was a hankering for entrepreneurship in the life sciences and pharmaceuticals, which in 2004 led her to found Consultation ScienTech (CST), a consultation firm specializing in scientific development and commercialization with an expertise in strategic health-care development. That’s when she realized an MBA would be a significant asset, and so enrolled in the John Molson School of Business Executive MBA program (EMBA).
“I was seeking an EMBA program with a great reputation that would answer my needs to create a business network with interesting alumni, learn while working, and being short in timeframe, so that I could use my new skills quickly,” she says. “Concordia’s EMBA program offered the whole package.
“My EMBA experience gave me more depth and breadth that I could apply in the management of CST, as well as in my various other mandates,” says Vézina, who remains the company’s president and senior consultant. “Consolidating my business knowledge and best practices gave me the confidence to expand my market worldwide.”
CST, she says, is a dynamic and flexible company that adapts to the needs of its clients, which are in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, financial national and international public-health industries. “Our services often deal with the creation and/or assessment of innovative processes, positioning strategies, due diligence and strategic speculative evaluations,” Vézina says.
‘Much more than a degree’
What would she tell prospective EMBA candidates? “Get ready to embark on a wonderful adventure. This program will get you much more than a degree; it is a learning experience that can transform every aspect of your life, so embrace it to the fullest.”
“Looking at the world with an EMBA experience changed my mindset and helped me focus on the important aspects of each situation with a clear vision. It taught me to be proactive in all of life’s aspects.
“I became very efficient and realized that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind into it.”