Nancy C. Hunter
Graziadio Business School | MBA 2006
Head of Commercial, Bluebird Bio GmbH
After graduation Nancy Hunter worked for Eli Lilly and Amgen (US and global roles) before moving to Switzerland to launch a product to treat melanoma at Amgen. She has spoken at various European events, and this year she gave away her first scholarship to graduating high school seniors entering a career in STEM.
What does being an honoree of the Outstanding Alumni in Healthcare campaign mean to you?
I feel very humbled being acknowledged as a Pepperdine Outstanding Alumni in Healthcare honoree. There has been tremendous scientific advancement of therapies in many disease areas over the past 15 years, and it has been a true privilege to contribute. I am very excited to see those new therapy options made available to patients in need.
Describe your road to success.
I do not think there is a "one size fits all" approach to building a successful career. Rather, I think it is important to be guided by your curiosity, natural talent, and gut feeling. What has worked to my advantage so far has been to spend time reflecting and getting to know myself along the journey. Identifying my core values and ethics has been paramount as I've let them guide final decisions. Many unexpected opportunities have presented themselves over the years and I've been able to recognize the best choice for me at the time through the lenses of my overall interest areas (international business, healthcare, and philanthropy).
Who has helped you achieve success in your career?
I have learned over the years that almost anything - good or bad - can be used as fuel to push oneself to achieve a goal or grow professionally in a new way. However, to achieve sustained success, the people in your corner are the important ones to mention. I have been incredibly lucky to have colleagues I count as friends and to have mentors who supported me over the years. This would be a long response if I mentioned everyone who has made an impact on me. Two mentors stand out and I am deeply grateful our paths have crossed: Matt Skelton (in the USA) and Dr. André Dahinden (in Switzerland). Matt taught me the importance of teamwork and André showed me how to read between the lines. Both emphasized the value of trust and that trust in business is a rare commodity.
Describe a lesson you've learned from a challenging time in your career or life.
I have learned that risks are worth taking and time can be your friend. It is good to constantly stretch out of your comfort zone instead of settling there. I have always been rewarded when I followed my gut instinct, even if at times, the reward was not readily apparent. I really do believe all things work together for good, and sometimes the good of a situation reveals itself more slowly than expected. A slow reveal is often not an indicator on the quality of the decision, but merely a reality of life at times.
Being away from my home country, family and friends was certainly a challenging time in the beginning of my life as an expat. When living abroad, difficult times tend to feel more impactful and can be quite lonely at first. During these challenging periods, I learned to reach out and be vulnerable with close friends. True and loyal friends are rare, and over the years I have come to cherish the depth of those relationships more. My advice to younger alumni reading this article is to not try and shoulder everything by yourself, even if you think you can competently do so. It is a better path in the long run to share the emotional load with people who care for you, than to be overly self-sufficient. Invest in your meaningful relationships, no matter where in the world they are.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I'd love to be a writer who didn't suffer writer's block.
"It is a better path in the long run to share the emotional load with people who care for you, than to be overly self-sufficient. Invest in your meaningful relationships, no matter where in the world they are."
Nancy Hunter (MBA '06)
What's next for you?
I am expanding my interest in mentorship and philanthropy.
I believe in working to empower the next generation of female leaders, not only from a technical perspective, but also from an internal belief and thought process. Challenges remain for women in business, and to positively impact a change moving forward, the next generation needs access to tools and conversations earlier than they were made available to me. Therefore, I recently started a scholarship for high school women going into STEM, with an added emphasis on women's studies/women's literature. I hope to be able to expand the program to more schools soon. It has been a great pleasure to award a young lady from my hometown in Montana with the first scholarship recently.
In addition to scholarships and acting as a Pepperdine Alumni mentor, I am also curious about global NGO and foundation work, given my interest in healthcare, education and mentorship for the next generation of leaders. Talent is found all around the world and I have been so privileged to live out my career aspirations both in the States and Europe. If I can play a small role in helping someone else achieve their dream, what could be better than that?
What is your mantra or favorite quote?
"Treasures are not found at the top but in the depth of things. Don't be afraid to dig deep into life to find what you are looking for." - Jeremy Lopez