From beer-making to biotechnology

Jack Chacon has always been drawn to the intersection of business and science

By Marya Jones Barlow

Jack Chacon

Beer, business and biotechnology might seem like strange bedfellows, but Jon “Jack” Chacon managed successful careers in all three before he was 30.

A former beer brewer in Seattle, the 2015 graduate of CI’s M.S. Biotechnology and MBA Dual Degree program took his chemistry talents in a different direction after moving to Santa Barbara in 2010.

“I realized beer was better suited to a hobby, and science had been my vocation all along,” he said. “The bioscience industry is a whole galaxy of variation and challenge.”

Chacon spent the past three years earning his master’s degree while working full-time at Wyatt Technology, a Goleta-based manufacturing technology firm that makes industry-leading laser light-scattering instruments for biological and pharmaceutical research. He chose CI’s dual-degree program for its innovative blend of graduate-level biological science and MBA courses and its convenience for working professionals.

“I came out of CI’s program a different person,” he said. “I never would have thought myself capable of thinking so analytically —and working so hard—if it hadn’t been demanded of me. The biotechnology portion of the dual degree has allowed me to speak more fluently with my Ph.D.-level colleagues about the experiments they perform, and the business portion has enabled me to move into a management position at my company.”

The exposure I’ve gotten in the MBA program has made clear to me that I would like to continue on with management and administration within the biotech industry.

Originally from Seattle, Chacon attended Seattle University, where he majored in chemistry. After graduating, he spent three years brewing, bottling, kegging and cellaring beer for Pike Brewing Company and Elysian Brewing Company.

Upon moving to Santa Barbara in 2010 with his wife, who’s pursuing a Ph.D. at UCSB, Chacon was ready for a change. After taking a technical support position at Wyatt, he researched various graduate programs and realized CI’s Dual Master’s in Biotechnology & Business was a perfect match.

While Chacon describes the challenge of juggling the program with a full-time job and a commute between Goleta and Camarillo as a “coup d’etat,” he says the rewards were well worth the struggle.

“In the past year, I’ve been promoted to manager of my department, which is directly correlative to the progress that I’ve made in school,” he said. “The exposure I’ve gotten in the MBA program has made clear to me that I would like to continue on with management and administration within the biotech industry.”

Chacon says he still brews beer regularly, and to balance out all those calories, he runs marathons.

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© Spring 2015 / Volume 19 / Number 1 / Bi-annual