Jenna Riffell

Kx Advisors
Vice President
Richmond, Canada
London, United Kingdom
Small molecules as modulators of mitotic arrest and senescence in cancer

What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?

I am responsible for advising healthcare companies, including pharmaceutical, biotech, medical devices, and health IT companies, on their strategy from their pipeline to their launch processes. For the last two years, I've been leading my company's UK office and building the European business.

How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?

My PhD gave me the healthcare background that I needed to work in healthcare consulting. Many of my clients have PhDs themselves, and understand that having a PhD means that I understand their challenges. I also gained strong, flexible research and analysis skills that help me be successful.

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

There is a wide variety of work, and I have the opportunity to learn about many areas of the healthcare industry, from different therapeutic areas to different regions of the world. This is both what I like and what can be challenging sometimes!

Is your current career path as you originally intended?

No – I never expected that I would go into business! I had initially planned to work in industry as a research scientist, but after completing my postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, I decided that consulting would be a better fit for me.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UBC is well-respected and produces excellent research. The opportunity to work with my supervisor, Michel Roberge, was a big motivator, as I was familiar with his research and knew that was what I wanted to focus on.

What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?

When I decided that I wanted to move from cancer research into consulting, I had already done a lot of research on the options available to me. I then did freelance volunteer consulting to get some experience and find out if this career move was right for me, and that is the main thing I now recommend that PhD students do if they are interested in consulting.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Take your time to really think about what you want to do, and put the work in to get there. Once you figure out what job you want, make a plan to get the experience or contacts you need, and give yourself time to achieve that before you graduate.


Read tips on applying, reference letters, statement of interest, reaching out to prospective supervisors, interviews and more in our Application Guide!