"The relationships and connections I am making with classmates, mentors and others in the Tepper community will profoundly impact my life."

GET TO KNOW DEREK

Biotech start-up founder. Driven entrepreneur. Devoted father & husband. 

My entire professional career has been as CEO of my own company, Vandalia Research (a biotech company acquired by Applied DNA Sciences), which I ran for approximately ten years. This background has greatly enhanced my experience at Tepper, but has also left me with a lot to learn. Because I founded Vandalia Research when I was an undergraduate freshman, I felt that I had perhaps skipped some learning steps, and I wanted the opportunity to put my entrepreneurial experiences into a framework, a context, that would allow me to become more successful.

Carnegie Mellon is a renowned research university. In addition to having an amazing experience in business school, I wanted the opportunity to work across campus with engineers, designers and computer scientists. In seven months at Carnegie Mellon, I have met dozens of students outside of Tepper in robotics competitions, case competitions, through student clubs and in my role as business lead of the Carnegie Mellon Hyperloop team. In addition to these experiences, I am part of a tight-knit culture of teamwork and inclusion, which was a key factor in my decision to attend Tepper.

I define myself as a driven entrepreneur. I believe that my background in technology, paired with a passion for the high impact nature of life sciences, is unique and allows me to solve problems in the intersection of technology and health. I came to Tepper with some (dated) quant skills, and it had been approximately ten years since I had been in a calculus class. For the most part, I have been able to get back up to speed, and most of my quant-related lessons have been in learning which tools to apply to a problem.

CAREER PLANS

Following graduation, I intend to become a founder or key member of a life science/health-tech company in the Bay Area.

As part of these plans, I am working to improve my leadership skills by pursuing a leadership certificate and coaching, as well as building a great network at Tepper and in the Bay Area. I am also striving to win UNC’s Venture Capital Investment competition.

TEPPER ADVICE

Make sure to take advantage of the numerous formal and informal opportunities to enjoy your classmates’ company and learn from the vast array of experiences represented at the school.

YOUR LIFE + TEPPER

I have been married for almost 13 years and have two children, Torin (8) and Amira (5). Most of my time outside of school and work is spent with them. I enjoy cycling, running and skiing. Now that my son is older, we’re also enjoying playing video games and board games.

My family is very happy having moved to Pittsburgh. My kids have great schools in Ross Township and there is always something to do with them on the weekends, including the Carnegie Science Center, the zoo, theatre and much more. Our commutes are easy (with very little traffic) and the city is inexpensive to live in.