By age 33, French businessman Stéphane Bancel was already running a multinational biotech company with a market capitalization that exceeded $3 billion. Born in 1972, Bancel first attended college in Paris before studying chemical engineering and business administration at the University of Minnesota and Harvard University, respectively. His precocious success as CEO of the diagnostics company bioMérieux quickly made him a rising star in the biotech space. However, in 2011, Bancel decided to leave it all behind in order to join a one-employee company called Moderna, which deals with the discovery and development of messenger RNA therapeutics and vaccines. Under his leadership, the company grew exponentially, so much so that Moderna became the largest biotech IPO in history by 2018. In December 2020, Moderna made headlines again when its vaccine for COVID-19 was approved by the FDA for emergency use. Owning roughly 9% of the publicly traded company, Bancel's net worth is north of $8 million. Bancel has received numerous awards and recognitions over a career that spans more than 25 years. This includes being named the Ernst & Young 2017 New England Entrepreneur of the Year, the #1 CEO in the biotech sector according to the 2011 Thomson Reuters EXTEL Study, a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2009, and, in the same year, Best CEO for Investor Relations in France.
In the late 1990s, Bancel's decision to enroll in Harvard Business School's graduate program was surprising to many of his colleagues. Until that point, Bancel had only shown a strong interest in studying the sciences, having already completed his chemical engineering degree at the University of Minnesota. What drew Bancel to Harvard, however, was the curriculum, which would allow him to be as proficient at running a multinational business as he was working in cutting-edge laboratories. At Harvard, Bancel chose from an array of courses spanning topics from corporate board leadership to reimagining capitalism. In 2000, he graduated with a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
Moderna, which is based in Cambridge, Massachuesttes, provides an ideal location for Bancel, who has always maintained strong ties with his alma mater. In recent years, the billionaire has returned on multiple occasions to lend his expertise to the Harvard community. For instance, in January 2021, Bancel participated in a webinar event that was co-sponsored by the Harvard Business Club. With "A Conversation with Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna Zoom Webinar," Bancel was afforded the opportunity to talk about future challenges he might tackle while also discussing the extraordinary journey of his professional career. The following month, Bancel took time away from his CEO duties to participate in a timely discussion that examined his company's groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine, and how Moderna was ensuring quality across research, manufacturing, and testing. Previously, Bancel was also a guest speaker for one of Harvard's The Other Side series, which continues to strengthen the University's reputation by drawing pioneers like Bancel to inspire the next generation of Harvard innovators.