"The Bay Area is the mecca for those who want to be in the biomedical device industry."
Ever since Leila Bahreinian was a little girl, she dreamed of working in medicine. Growing up with parents who were both dentists, there was a lot of medical conversation at the dinner table. In high school she became interested in physics and biomedical engineering; by college her focus was on mechanical engineering, determining that mechanical engineering was fundamental to understanding all design. Leila practiced crafting tools for her parent's dental practices and brainstormed ideas for other medical tools with her sisters, who were also pursuing careers in medicine. Ultimately earning a master's in mechanical engineering, Leila was certain she wanted to work in biomedical design, researching and developing medical devices.
"I enjoy designing, analyzing and brainstorming on finding solutions, and when the design and analysis and the proposed solution transforms the life condition in another individual it is really fulfilling," she says.
Leila landed in the Bay Area and began working at Boston Scientific in medical device research and development. "The Bay Area is the mecca for those who want to be in the biomedical device industry," she says. She knew that she needed to further her education beyond mechanical engineering into biomedical design to further her career. She quickly determined that she wanted to gain an affiliation with Stanford and discovered Stanford's graduate certificate program in Biodesign Innovation. The certificate program, which teaches the knowledge and skills essential for the development of new biomedical technologies, is facilitated by the Stanford Center for Professional Development (SCPD). Classes are designed for working professionals and can be taken online. As a working professional and a new mom, "the biodesign graduate certificate seemed like the perfect match for my needs," she says. She did most of her school work in the evenings and on the weekends, and her employer was supportive as long as it didn't interfere with work. Ultimately, she performed so well at her studies and it had such a positive impact on her job that she received tuition reimbursement from her employer.
Her favorite part of the certificate program was the team projects in biomedical design. For one course she met weekly with her team and mentor on campus. "It was a phenomenal experience working with a general surgeon as our mentor," she says, "and working within an all-professional team." She didn't mind that she felt the least experienced because she learned so much from her colleagues and mentor. The team ended up filing a patent as a result of their work which she says was "exhilarating". The program taught Leila how to identify new opportunities for innovation, assess clinical needs and market potential, and take the critical first steps in the invention, patenting and development of new concepts.
As a result, Leila contributed to the filing of a patent at her job. This was one example for applying her learning from Stanford. She received recognition from her manager and was ultimately able to translate her learning into new career opportunities. She moved into the marketing side of the medical device business, where she is the Global Product Marketing Manager for Stryker Neurovascular. "I summarized the marketing related sections of my learning and presented them at the interview meetings," she says. "This helped me earn the position." She currently manages a $135M global franchise and is the marketing lead on product development projects. She supports the development from market research and need assessment to product positioning and commercialization and also provides sales support to maintain and increase market share. As an engineer working in marketing, she is able to relate to the technical side of the design and needs effortlessly and readily. Physicians seem to appreciate this combination and trust what she says. She enjoys being able to interact with customers closely.
Going back to school at Stanford and earning a certificate helped "highlight my intellectual abilities and my aspiration for excellence," she says. She would encourage other prospective students seeking additional education to check out Stanford. "The best possible path for them is to visit the SCPD website and consider the great options available there."