The Jack of All Trades

Paul Marks talks about how his approach to learning and his time with MBP combined to give him what he needed to find success with pharma equipment supplier Sartorius.

Paul Marks

To understand how Paul Marks (MBP ‘17) sees Northwestern Engineering's Master of Biotechnology Program (MBP), look no further than the URL to his LinkedIn profile.

After all the standard URL jargon and his first and last names comes what Marks said he feels MBP helped him become: “jackofalltrades.”

“MBP is great to show you what's in the biotech industry,” said Marks, product specialist for tangential flow filtration (TFF) and filtration systems at Sartorius, an international pharmaceutical and laboratory equipment supplier. “Being able to learn a lot of the other things that are out there was a great way to solidify my knowledge and to be able to take that next step.”  

Marks has been taking those next steps with confidence since MBP.  

While still in the program, Marks interned at Exicure, an early-stage biotechnology company. He remained with the company for two years, eventually becoming a full-time research associate. 

In 2019, Marks joined Sartorius, an international pharmaceutical and laboratory equipment supplier. He began his tenure there as a field application specialist before transitioning to his current role in 2021. 

MBP helped Marks get where he is today — and helped solidify his passion for the work he's doing. 

“I enjoy the variety,” said Marks, who participated in MBP's annual Biotech Nexus event in 2023. “I can see a product and then I can see another one tomorrow. I can work with exosomes on Tuesday and gene therapy on Wednesday.”  

Sartorius’ client roster ranges from startups to giants in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology arena. Marks said the variety of clients matches the variety of the work and keeps him highly engaged. 

He’s also able to see some of the life-changing innovations coming up through the startup world without exposing himself to the inherent uncertainty in a newly formed business.  

“I can work with startups, but I'm not tied to that risk,” he said. “The product works or it doesn't. I'm still helping them, and I'm able to get that window into many different products without having to take on that risk.”  

That isn’t to suggest Marks is risk-averse.  

His pre-MBP career was marked by taking leaps of faith with startup companies and working far outside his job description. If he didn’t know how to do something – even if that something was as challenging as fluid dynamics – he taught himself what he needed to know. 

Marks saw joining MBP as a way for him to bring more structure to his learning and to fill in the gaps with the things he hadn’t learned on his own.  

“The way I looked at it was, this degree was going to teach me what I was doing wrong and validate everything I have done,” he said.

It wasn’t just the in-classroom lessons that made a difference in Marks’ career trajectory. The relationships he was able to form while he was there helped as well, he said.  

Add the learning and the networking together, and you have what Marks is: a versatile professional who appreciates MBP and what it did for him. 

“With MBP, a big part was soft skills, and I can use that in my day-to-day, talking with customers," he said. "I'm constantly making connections. I know I wouldn't be where I am in my current role if it wasn't for the connections and the experiences I was able to get through MBP.”  

McCormick News Article