Q&A with Stephen Gunstream, MBA ’07 of BD

stephen-gunstream-bdStephen Gunstream, MBA ’07
Vice President, Global Genomics

What is the greatest opportunity in health care today, from your perspective?

That’s a very difficult question to answer given the advances in so many aspects in health care over the past couple decades.  For example, it took 13 years and over a billion dollars to sequence the first human genome.  Now it can be done in less than a week for several thousand dollars.

I believe the power of understanding how genetic alterations drive disease will translate into new diagnostic capabilities and therapies that will improve the human condition. There is still so much to understand from a genetic perspective, sequencing a genome is just the beginning. For example, even if we knew every individual’s genetic code, we’re still working to understand how DNA, the blueprint of life, is translated into protein or changes over time. There is so much still to learn and each year we understand more which leads to new diagnostics, therapies or treatments.

What is the most exciting initiative at BD today, and why?

I am biased because I’m leading the genomics effort at BD, but I would say genomics. BD has deep capabilities in everything from medication management to blood collection tubes to cell sorting. Genomics provides a new capability that is complementary to the existing product portfolio. By combining our new genomic tools with the existing BD portfolio we can enable new solutions in research and clinical markets. Outside of genomics, BD has some very exciting work going on in cellular therapy, essentially providing tools to modify cells to fight diseases, and in informatics, using large set of environmental and medical data sources to improve medical care. There is significant research and development going on at BD and there are a lot of great new technologies coming.   It’s really hard to pick a favorite initiative (other than genomics!)

What emerging markets do you find most compelling right now, and why?

BD has an extremely broad footprint. We have products in every region around the world. I continue to be impressed with the breadth of our reach. I don’t feel particularly strong

about a specific emerging market, however, I will say that our efforts in China and Africa, while very different, are making a big difference in the developing health care systems of those regions of the world.


What do you wish you knew at the start of your career that took you years to understand?

You don’t need a career development plan. Focus on doing your current role as best as possible and you won’t have to look for new opportunities. I spent a long time trying to decide if I wanted to be in R&D or business, only to give up and focus on what I loved at the time (R&D). Within a couple years I was recruited into corporate development to evaluate new technologies. My background in R&D was a tremendous benefit.  I still float between R&D and business and love the interaction between the two. I attempt to live by one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

What advice would you give to a young business person going into health care today?

Don’t consider yourself a business person! Health care is more than business – you should be in this sector because you want to make a difference in global health. Get deep in understanding how the products you work with change a patient, clinician or researcher’s lives on a daily basis and you will accelerate your business career. When you approach your work from that perspective good things will happen and opportunities continue to open up.


About Mr. Gunstream

Stephen Gunstream joined BD as Vice President Global Genomics in June 2015. In this role, Stephen leads the global Genomics efforts and advances the strategy for BD to become a leader in the area of Genomics sample preparation. Based out of California, Stephen leads a global BD Genomics team in partnership with all business units in the Life Sciences segment and the Genomics team at BD Technologies. He directly leads the BD GenCell Platform that was acquired in October 2014 and the Single Cell Genomics platform which includes the Cellular Research team was acquired in August 2015.  As the global Genomics leader, Stephen is responsible for the business strategy and the overall Genomics P&L. Stephen is a member of the Life Sciences Segment Leadership Team and the BD Leadership Team.

Stephen joined BD from Integrated DNA Technologies where he was the Chief Commercial Officer reporting to the CEO. He was accountable for both product development and global sales and marketing for the company. In his 7 years with IDT, he assumed several roles of increasing responsibility that contributed to a nearly three-fold revenue increase for IDT. Prior to IDT, he spent 7 years with Applied Biosystems (Thermo Fisher Scientific) in California.

Stephen has an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. He is also named inventor on nine issued patents.