"As a result of my coursework, I am more aware of trends in the Biotech industry."

"Frenetic" describes Jennifer Wade's pace of life. Whether competing in triathlons or ensuring the smooth operation of process equipment at Genentech's fermentation manufacturing sites, Wade is always in motion.

A self-described education "addict," Wade still manages to cull time out of her hectic schedule for intellectual stimulation. "Continuing to expand one's mind is part of Genentech's philosophy and trying not to be bored is part of mine," Wade conceded with a smile. As a participant in Genentech's Operations Rotational Development Program, which allows staff to supplement their skills by taking graduate-level courses, Wade seized on the opportunity to take classes through the Stanford Center for Professional Development. "Stanford is the Ivy of the west coast," explained Wade when asked about her decision to enroll in courses.

As a working professional, the logistical ease of viewing courses online helped Wade balance her full-time career and educational aspirations. "It is certainly challenging to go to school part time. When you have courses that are offered online that can be reached just about everywhere, and professors who are accustomed to working with distance learning students, it makes a pursuit that would ordinarily be challenging much more reasonable." She cites the "novel insights and concepts" as the most enriching component of her experience.

Wade earned the Product Creation and Innovative Manufacturing Graduate Certificate by completing team based projects and online classes. The certificate allows students to take a number of interdisciplinary courses where they encounter fundamental questions about product design and the manufacturing process. Participants learn how to develop new products in the context of manufacturing technology as well as plan and execute successful product launches. "I now pay closer attention to the decisions which are made at the director and above level and focus on how it applies to the greater Genentech strategy," says Wade.

She was particularly impressed by the faculty's ability to distil lessons about supply and demand, the manufacturing environment, and maximizing efficiency, which she was able to apply immediately to her work. "As a result of my coursework, I am more aware of trends in the Biotech industry. I often look at other industries to assess how their best practices might be relevant to my daily work and the future of Genentech."

With her eyes always trained on the future, Wade views the certificate as a springboard for future professional development. Her goal is "to develop my management skills so that in the long term I can manage a highly technical group of individuals."