A Problem-Solver’s Mindset: How Mentorship Shaped a Career

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Since graduating from Illinois Institute of Technology, John Clark (CHEM ’15) has gained professional experience in diverse roles: He has worked as a consultant at Accenture, as a technical application specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific, and is now a technology lead at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, a Japanese multinational pharmaceutical company.  

“After several years of working in quality control chemistry labs for consumer products companies, I transitioned into the laboratory informatics industry,” says Clark, who works out of Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ Cambridge, Massachusetts, location.  

“Generally speaking, my role is to envision and execute on the delivery of digital solutions to address issues in life sciences laboratories for a global pharmaceutical organization,” he says. “My career is very exciting because I work at the intersection between science and technology. Laboratory informatics is an interdisciplinary field, so you get to work with and learn from colleagues with different skill sets.” 

Originally from Bridgeview, Illinois, Clark says the hands-on experience that he gained as a student at Illinois Tech directly helped set him up for career success. 

“In the research lab of [Robert E. Frey, Jr. Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Associate Professor of Chemistry] David Minh, I helped to develop data processing methods for molecular dynamics simulations,” he says. “These simulations are used extensively in early discovery pharma R&D to virtually screen compounds before synthesis in the laboratory. My research experience gave me a unique insight into the pharmaceutical industry from the perspective of technology, which has been crucial in understanding customer needs.” 

Today, Clark credits Minh for all he has been able to achieve since graduating. 

“Performing research under his guidance gave me the skills that I directly use daily in my professional career, and the mindset that is required to solve complex problems,” he says. “I directly attribute my professional success to the years I spent under his mentorship.”