Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meet SGI-DNA: Rahul Gautam, Customer Success


You’re familiar with our synthetic biology solutions and services. Now we’d like to introduce you to the faces behind our innovative products, the people dedicated to building next-generation synthetic biology tools to advance your research.

First off in this new “Meet SGI-DNA” blog series is Rahul Gautam, Customer Success Manager, Synthetic Biology. Of course, we’re biased, but we think Rahul is pretty extraordinary. He’s one of the most well-liked, personable members of the SGI-DNA team and he’s a dedicated leader, who strives to ensure customer success. We recently sat down with Rahul and asked him a few questions about his experience here at SGI-DNA.

"The more I interact with customers, the more I learn about the true potential of synthetic biology."

What is your background?

I have officially been with SGI-DNA for four years now, but I started my journey, majoring in Biology and minoring in Business Administration and Management at UC San Diego. My goal as a student was to explore the business side of biotechnology. Taking business classes through UCSD’s Rady School of Management was inspiring, offering a perfect blend of science, technology, and business. During my senior year, I took Dr. Stephen Mayfield’s introductory Biofuels course, which highlighted Craig Venter and the amazing work that Synthetic Genomics was doing in the algae biofuels space. A few months later, I came across an opening for a product management internship at SGI-DNA, which had just been launched by Dr. Venter and Dr. Daniel Gibson as a subsidiary of Synthetic Genomics. Joining SGI-DNA at a unique time meant that I could parlay my internship into a full-time position on our Customer Support team.

When did you first become interested in science?

Science has always been a big part of my life. Both of my parents were scientists. My father worked at The Scripps Research Institute and my mother was at Invitrogen when it was still a small startup in the early ‘90s. Science consistently made its way into discussions at the dinner table or when my parents’ scientist friends came to visit. Growing up the ‘90’s also provided me with a dynamic environment of scientific programming on the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, the BBC as well as the cutting edge scientific programming on PBS. To this day, I still watch Nova and Nature every week.

In a nutshell, what do you do at SGI-DNA?

I do anything and everything that helps our customers succeed with our services and products. Whether helping a customer place their first order or managing complex projects, I strive to make our customers happy. In a nutshell, I act as the liaison between the scientific acumen of SGI-DNA and our customers. I’m the Magic Johnson of SGI-DNA. <laughter> Kidding aside, I think it’s a good analogy. I’m like a point guard, distributing the proverbial ball amongst my teammates to best support the needs of our customers. My objective is to ensure customer success and build customer relationships that enhance the user experience.

What do you find most interesting about what you do? What do you find to be the most rewarding?

Not to sound cliché but making our customers happy motivates me every day. Our customers are doing cutting-edge research across the industrial synthetic biology spectrum from textiles to cancer immunotherapy and novel personalized medicine therapies. Knowing that SGI-DNA technologies are fueling the research that could provide new, better treatments for patients is motivating and exciting. The more I interact with customers, the more I learn about the true potential of synthetic biology.

What do you think are the most exciting possibilities for synthetic biology?

Without a doubt new approaches to combating human disease. Synthetic biology is helping drive the advancements we are already seeing in personalized medicine. The impact of synthetic biology on the future of cancer research will be significant over the next decade. Improving the overall human experience through synthetic biology is happening on many levels— human disease, nutrition, and through the development of novel chemistry. It’s both fascinating and rewarding to be part of SGI-DNA, a company focused on synthetic biology advancements through its products and services.

What are your interests and hobbies?

I have an endless list of interests and hobbies. I love sports, especially football and basketball. I’m also interested in history and political science. I often joke that my secondary career choice would be as an Indologist (the study of Indian literature and history). As my mother always told me, “You should never have an excuse to be bored.” I guess I have taken that to heart and am completely curious about the world around me. Through my work, I get to interact with many people doing unique and interesting things, both inside and outside the company. This is an incredibly exciting time to be working in synthetic biology, the next great frontier of scientific advancement.

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