Business and science synergies: Satya Chauhan
Business and science synergies: Satya Chauhan
Open Crumb Nav
For Satya Chauhan (MBA ’78) a degree that built a foundation for a greater understanding of business, particularly intellectual property commercialization, was a perfect complement to a career in the sciences.
While his path to an MBA from Fisher may have been a bit circuitous, he has successfully blended his understanding of business with a career at Battelle that has spanned more than 40 years and culminated recently in his being named the organization’s Inventor of the Year.
Tell us about some of your recent accomplishments and current work at Battelle.
As a senior program director at Battelle, I am responsible for managing large, multi-sector, multi-disciplinary research and development (R&D) programs; managing development and commercialization of several Battelle inventions; and serving as the executive director of an international consortium of firms developing technologies for underwater applications.
Throughout my 44-year career at Battelle, I’ve been fortunate to have had many great management experiences. In recent years, I've been responsible for creating and exploiting Battelle’s intellectual property (IP) for advanced materials and chemical processes, including green products, green manufacturing and green energy. Long before “green” was a buzzword for advancing technologies, I was focusing on chemical innovations that could decrease carbon footprints, remove toxic substances, increase resource utilization and improve functionality. I am currently leading the commercialization of seven technologies related to green products, green chemistry and green energy. These technologies relate to deicing fluids for aerospace application, water and wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse of waste, and alternative energy.
An MBA isn’t a typical degree for someone working in the sciences. How has your MBA helped you throughout your career at Battelle?
That may be true for someone in sciences, but perhaps not so for engineers, as in my case. In fact, when I entered the MBA program, a leading chemical engineering journal had shown that a combination of a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and an MBA provided a powerful combination for career development in chemical engineering. In my case, the combination of a broad, science- and technology-based education, combined with supplemental education in finance, managerial accounting, marketing and humanities has been very synergistic. To help blend the two sets of disciplines, I wrote several papers during my MBA where I developed concepts and models for R&D management at Battelle. These included interpreting the various aspects of marketing within the context of R&D business development, and application of operations research in running a job shop like R&D execution environment.
Graduating from Ohio State meant…
An MBA from Ohio State helped me enhance my education in science and technology with business management skills to reach greater heights in R&D, business development, as well as in successful commercialization of cutting-edge technologies with significant societal impact.
How has earning an MBA made a difference in your career in the sciences?
With my strength in mathematics, I made greatest use of my Ohio State and Fisher education in finance and managerial accounting. I learned a lot from my education in marketing as well the case-study orientation of the MBA curriculum. This helped me in my career at Battelle by preparing me for R&D marketing in a very competitive world. It was especially useful for IP commercialization, as it often involves new start-up companies. With my Fisher education, understanding company financials, as well as industrial-complex economic analyses, were much easier, and the latter supplemented my chemical engineering education in plant design and economic analysis.
On a more personal side, I was also able to help my wife, Sudha (MS ’83), a pharmacology graduate, successfully start and manage two businesses, one of which she still manages. Over the years, I have been able to help her prepare hundreds of balance sheets and perform cash-flow analyses. I was also able to serve as vice president of finance for a local Jaycees organization.
What service did you participate in at Ohio State while a student? And what service have you been involved in since you graduated?
I joined the Worthington Jaycees organization while completing my MBA and participated in numerous community service activities. Over the years, I have been a big supporter of the United Way and several of its charitable organizations, as well being an active supporter of local places of worship. I continue to donate to the three colleges I have attended, having established two full scholarships. In the last three years, my wife and I have made a large donation to Habitat for Humanity. I have also attended innumerable fundraisers in Columbus, including a recent one to raise awareness about hunger in central Ohio that included director Spike Lee as a guest speaker.
What is your favorite memory from Ohio State?
I wanted to join the MBA program as soon as I joined Battelle in 1974, so I applied for admission, which was turned down by the admissions clerk. She said “You can’t apply for a master’s degree after already having earned a PhD. But maybe you can talk to the dean of the business school to see if he would allow it,” which, of course, he did, realizing that an MBA was a different field of study than my PhD.
Did you have a favorite spot on campus? Why was it special?
As I was living off campus and also studying part-time, there wasn’t too much time available to walk around the campus. But I walked through the Oval every day. Seeing students walk from many different directions and cross paths was most interesting. Of course, Ohio Stadium has, to this date, been the most enjoyable spot. In fact, about 10 years ago a Battelle innovation awards ceremony was held at the stadium and included Jim Tressel and Brutus.
What advice would you give to a current student or recent Fisher graduate?
For many MBA graduates, a business degree supplements a non-business undergraduate degree. Rather than totally dropping a pursuit of the foundational, non-business undergraduate degree and just seeking completely business-related jobs, an MBA could increase your value as well as provide more variety of assignments by synthesizing the learning from two disciplines. To do this, it may be necessary to stay in touch with both fields until the most interesting career path emerges.
Photos courtesy of Satya Chauhan.
©2023 Fisher College of Business
2100 Neil Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43210