About the module

Business principles affect all organizations. In today’s highly competitive and highly complicated working environments, understanding these principles gives leaders and managers a strategic advantage, enabling them to handle situations more effectively and make decisions more effectively.

This module is a unique distillation of the tools and skills needed to be successful in business, whether your business is leadership of a team of scientists, management of lab, directing a technology startup, applying for grants, or all of the above.  And whether your career will direct you toward research (lab directors, PIs, etc.) or toward a career outside the lab, the topics in this course will introduce you to the tools needed to understand business, evaluate business situations effectively, analyze key business data drawing on both internal and external sources, and make effective business decisions. 

Module Objectives:

  • Broaden the training of biomedical sciences trainees to include business principles and tools;
  • Provide participants with tools and understanding of key financial concepts so they can be stronger financial managers and make better financial decisions;
  • Enable participants to understand how management and leadership are essential to success in highly competitive environments;
  • Teach participants to build effective teams, develop effective culture, and produce high levels of individual and team performance;
  • Help participants understand the importance of internal and external marketing and communication;
  • Teach participants to use product and service development to gain strategic advantage;
  • Help participants understand the power of systems and controls in delivering effective operational results;
  • Teach participants to use performance measurement to improve results;
  • Empower participants with problem solving, project management, and decision making tools;
  • Better prepare biomedical sciences trainees for a career inside or outside the lab!

This module emphasizes key concepts and tools. The business world is loaded with theories on how organizations should work and what would make them work better. These theories and concepts are known by many different names, most of which are simply re-named and re-packaged versions of prior theories.  The concepts and tools covered in this module, however, are designed to be kept handy in your “tool kit” and are expected to be used very frequently to address your daily management challenges.

Module participants will receive a Certificate of Completion at the end.


Module dates and times: Wednesdays from 8:00-10:00 a.m., January 13-April 11, plus a 1/2 day retreat the afternoon of Monday, February 29.

Instructor: Joe Rando, Lecturer in Managerial Studies, Vanderbilt University

Module structure: Interactive lectures and small group discussions (first half) followed by a team capstone project (second half)

Cost: No cost to PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in the biomedical sciences, thanks to a grant from Burroughs Wellcome Fund  (PI: Dr. Kathy Gould, Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences and Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology)

Eligibility: Open to Vanderbilt biomedical sciences postdoctoral fellows and PhD students who have passed their qualifying exams before January 2016.

Questions: Please contact Kim Petrie (kim.petrie@vanderbilt.edu), Director, BRET Office of Career Development