Earning an MBA from the Rady School of Management was another accomplishment on Mariana Melcón’s (MBA ’14) long list of academic and professional achievements. Boasting a resume that includes a Ph.D. in Animal Physiology, publications in top academic journals and research experience in world-renowned laboratories, Melcón is well-versed in what it means to be a dedicated scientist.
As an expert in bioacoustics, Melcón studies the way sounds affect underwater ecosystems. Though her academic career was thriving, she knew her impact in the field could be more significant with a background in business.
“I wanted to get an MBA to become more employable,” she said. “I was interested in learning more tools and skills that I hadn’t developed during my scientific studies. I was drawn to Rady because of the high numbers of scientists active in the program.”
Within her first few weeks at the Rady School, Melcón immersed herself in a number of activities and organizations during her time at the Rady School, taking advantage of the wealth of opportunities to learn and grow. She interned as a marketing consultant at a small digital marketing company, and served as a business development for Sense4Baby, an innovative fetal monitoring system for expecting mothers. She also took a teaching assistant role, assisting with the Quantitative Analysis, Operations Strategy and Architecture-Based Enterprise Systems Engineering courses offered at both the Rady School and Jacobs School of Engineering.
Despite diving head-first into the business world, Melcón couldn’t shake her passion for research, so she joined the Life Science Club. “I joined the Life Science Club because I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to combine my new-found interest for data-driven analytics with my love of science,” she said.
Change of plans
With a more generalized love for data analytics, Melcón decided to take on a new career path. She leveraged her Rady School network and was offered a Pricing Analytics Manager position HP Inc., and has been flourishing in her career ever since.
“Getting into data analytics was the perfect transition for me,” she said. “It took me quite some time to realize that breaking what you love doing into single units gives you more opportunities. A big passion of mine is playing detective with data and I apply this task in many different settings beyond biology. Understanding this led me to take my analytical science and critical thinking skills and transfer them into real-world business applications, while truly enjoying my job.”
Though her full-time job kept her busy, Melcón still found the time to volunteer her expertise serving as advisor and consultant for Argentina-based cetacean (whales and dolphins) conservation foundation Fundación Cethus.
This summer, her scientific and business worlds collided when she was invited to the United Nations to serve as a panelist for the Nineteenth meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea. Serving as an expert on bioacoustics and underwater noise, Melcón was called to share her experience and knowledge on “Cooperation and coordination in addressing anthropogenic underwater noise”. In this session she shared her story on how she was able to start from scratch in a developing country to get equipment, train human resources and build an international network that made it possible to be leading bioacoustics research on cetaceans in South America, and addressing important issues such as impact of noise on these animals.
“My time at Rady was instrumental for my success addressing the world leaders at the United Nations,” she said. “My courses helped me prepare a compelling argument to influence the audience. Also during my studies at Rady, I learned to collaborate with a diverse group of students to accomplish a common goal that turned to be a stepping stone to many of my accomplishments.”
Presenting her research on the world’s stage was a dream come true for Melcón. In addition to sharing her research in bioacoustics, she was able to make a case for cross-country collaborations and the benefits of working with scientists from developing nations to accomplish global sustainability and nature preservation goals.
“Rady exposed me to paths and opportunities I never knew were available to me,” Melcón said. “My MBA experience helped me open my mind and see how different backgrounds and disciplines can work together to solve problems and devise new, innovative solutions.”