Brea-based Beckman Coulter is one of the world’s leading biomedical manufacturers with more than 10,000 employees worldwide, many of them in North Orange County. Mihaylo MBA alumnus Eric Lavold ’10 is in charge of one of their clinical chemistry instrument product lines. He discusses his career journey and how to get started in this growing field.
With an aging population, biomedical advances and the digitalization of health-care data and delivery, all sectors of the health-care industry are experiencing significant growth.
North Orange County is at the forefront of the health-care revolution as the home of Beckman Coulter, which has the led the way in global medical advances over the past 80 years by developing cutting-edge laboratory equipment, diagnostic tools and patient-care products to ensure optimal outcomes throughout the human lifespan.
Mihaylo MBA alumnus Eric Lavold ’10 leads one of the company’s clinical chemistry instrument product lines, which involves the creation of products for the analysis of proteins in bodily fluids to prevent, diagnose and treat disease.
“My current position is intense to say the least,” he says. “I have responsibility to thoroughly understand all aspects of my product line ranging from what our customers need to how we can provide that based on our company’s capabilities and resources. Within that range of product knowledge comes in-depth financial analysis, a necessity to understand the strategic direction of the company, and the ability to internally obtain commitment from leadership on projects that help us meet our customers’ needs.”
From Grad Student to Executive: A Career Path at Beckman Coulter
Lavold’s nearly decade-long career with Beckman Coulter began when he was pursuing his MBA.
“While attending Mihaylo, I was given the opportunity to work at Beckman Coulter as a supply chain materials and planning analyst, specializing in materials inventory planning and procurement,” he says. “I was specifically hired to manage the global planning for the consumables business from a large acquisition which had recently been completed.”
Lavold was soon promoted to a senior materials and planning analyst role, in which he was introduced to the world of inbound marketing while working with Beckman’s product management team to build relationships across the supply chain.
“I quickly decided I wanted to further my career by learning how to perform successfully as a product manager,” he says. “Fortunately, both the skills I learned while working in supply chain, as well as those I acquired while earning my MBA, landed me the position I’m currently in. In working within the clinical chemistry product management team, I’ve had many opportunities to lead and be part of project teams, present strategy and business cases to executives, travel, and learn from both customers and co-workers, and further develop business acumen that I leverage on a daily basis.”
MBA + Experience: The Benefits of Going Back to School
Earning your MBA degree can be a game-changer for your career, but many educators believe the opportunity is maximized if you return to school after several years of work experience in your chosen field. For Lavold, this strategy paid dividends in advancing his career.
After graduating with a B.A. in behavioral science from Cal Poly Pomona in 1999, he held roles in both law enforcement and business over the following eight years, before deciding to pursue an MBA in 2007.
“At the time, I was working in the corporate security department of a large health insurance company. This was a good transitional position from law enforcement to the business world and came when my first son was born,” he says. “Unfortunately the company was acquired shortly after I started, and my position was eventually eliminated. Luckily, I recognized early on what the likely outcome would be in that position and enrolled in my graduate courses. For the short time I was unemployed, I focused on being a full-time student and spending time with my eldest son.”
Lavold encourages those considering an MBA to evaluate their readiness for the commitment required for the graduate program. “I’ve worked with MBA graduates who have had little experience in the workforce and those with much more experience than I have. In both cases, these individuals are driven and generally successful. The best, regardless of their experiences, keep an open mind and work positively with others.”
Launching Your Career in the Medical Device Industry
A growing field, Lavold notes that the medical device industry is heavily regulated and capital intensive, and career openings are in great demand.
“You have to be patient and persistent to get in the door, and then once inside, patient and persistent to get the job done. While innovation and breakthroughs can happen overnight, the majority of projects and products take years to develop and go to market. Through all of this, the most important action is to take advantage of the right opportunities that come your way,” he says. “Quick recognition of these opportunities come with experience, so don’t be afraid to get advice from someone you trust and has the experience to guide you.”
For more on jobs with Beckman Coulter, in Orange County or around the world, visit the company’s careers page. For college students hoping to get started in the field, check out their 18-month science and engineering innovation program, seven-month Brea-based commercial leadership program, and summer internships.