2020-2021 Board Interview. Ismael Ávila, YEBN President.

In these interviews we can meet more deeply the members of the recently established YEBN Board for the period 2020-2021. The next member to be introduced is Ismael Ávila, YEBN’s President.

This is what Ismael wants to tell us about himself.

First, let me explain a little about myself. Let’s start when I was little. I was fascinated by creating things, whether they were games, writing stories, doing science experiments, writing and playing music, drawing and participating in reading, drawing, literature, contests, etc. I still wanted to do things, and that led me to be very active during high school, where the lab was just another extension of me. But one of the important points of my life was when I had to make a decision, and I decided to start a university degree in Biotechnology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The truth, pleased to have chosen this university. During my university years, I could not stop organizing things in a parallel way, whether they were lectures, receiving students from other countries, participate in tandem language exchange programs, do my firsts performances as a singer, etc and that led me to be a kind of activity booster.

It was at that moment that I realized the needs that young people about to make the leap into the professional world need help, tools that inspire them and make them involve not only looking for them, but also for the society that surrounds us. This led me to become interested in the international world, and that is how I met AIESEC, with fascinating people who are change-oriented and committed to improving the world, an entity that provides young people with leadership development, cross-cultural internships, and global volunteer exchange experiences. I got the first insights that I will implement in the future. A little bit after, my life sciences soul led me to continue to be interested in the international world, and that’s how I met the Young European Biotech Network (YEBN), shortly before finishing my degree. But how fascinating!! I am going to explain to you what was so exciting, let’s continue reading 🙂

What, in your opinion, makes YEBN special?

The time has come to explain a little more about the YEBN, that association that started as something curious but that has become a place where both professional and personal development is present at all times. The objective was to create a bridge between the academy and the industry, designing tools that would help young people, whether they were professionals or those who were in their final years of the degree, master’s or Ph.D., to develop on a professional and personal level. What a great plan, right?
I started as a Communication Officer, and soon I began to meet colleagues from France, Germany, Italy, etc. I was meeting international people, helping other young people and above all developing myself on a professional and personal level. How incredible to be collaborating with a network, which has turned out to be a family, that despite the distance, our commitment is still present. After a couple of years, on the Executive Board, we realized that we needed to relaunch the network. It was important to link development with sustainable impact, and make young people collaborate to help create a better world from biotechnology and life sciences. It is very special to be collaborating in a European network, with people at the international level and with the aim of inspiring and involving people interested in creating impact and helping others.

How do you think YEBN can help you develop a successful career?

I think that being part of associations that help you develop is vital. I recommend to all people, whether they are young professionals or students who are part of one. It is a way to develop not only your knowledge of a specific field but also your soft-skills. And also, if they are people who have an interest in the professional world, then there are numerous associations with an international scope that are waiting for you. More than ever, when knowledge is in the palm of your hand and skills as important as teamwork, communication, self-motivation, problem-solving skills, flexibility, leadership, responsibility, time management, it is a challenge to know how to put them into practice, to face future challenges. To develop them, the most effective way is to work with other people, organize with them, and think about how best to carry out each step you take. We begin to gain experience by doing. And the YEBN mainly does two things, one of which is the construction of bridges, bridges that are represented by the network, and we help people to see the number of opportunities that exist and also create tools so that they can cross them. These tools are a series of mentoring programs, training, debates, job opportunities, that help them inspire and involve.

“The objective was to create a bridge between the academy and the industry, designing tools that would help young people, whether they were professionals or those who were in their final years of the degree, master’s or Ph.D., to develop on a professional and personal level.”

What are your goals for YEBN in 2020-2021 as President?

After being Vice President and now President, I have realized that the objectives are worked together, and it is not just one person, but it is all the people and roles that make it possible. This year from the Events team, led by Valentina Zinna, we are going to create a whole plan of activities that are truly useful and very focused on specific needs. From the Network team, led by Alexandre Bretel, we will continue to establish relationships with other institutions at the European level that may be of value to the members who are part of the association. And of course, from the Communication team, led by Oriol Bárcenas, one of the also very important pillars, we are going to create concrete projects and also help to transmit everything we do and we are going to highlight our thinking of creating a sustainable impact on society while inspiring and involving. These three axes together with all the members involved inside each one are key and they all feedback. And of course, in the following interviews, the Officers will be able to reveal a little more about each part. It is very important to note that not only do these three axes exist in the association, but it would also be impossible without mentioning the excellent work on the part of our treasurer, Amina Frese, making the strategy that best goes to give economic viability to the association, our secretary, Ela Gralinska, in charge of all the management as important as the management of new members and making all the processes very smooth. And of course, it could not be possible without joint leadership with our Vice President, Alexandra Nothnagel. From the Presidency, there is a real importance to represent YEBN in official business and communications, stay always side by side, coordinating and supervising the work of the Officers. Also, handle and supervise administration not clearly assigned to another EB member, be close to treasury and secretary if needed, manage human and financial resources, help recruitment based on team needs, work in creating opportunities for all teams and the YEBN, propose the strategy and guide its implementation, evaluating and validating the best partners that make our network growth.

How do you try to make a change for the better?

I try to help by making a change for the better, in every action I do, wherever. And of course, in the places where I have to think and develop initiatives that are useful for others, it is there where it becomes even more responsibility in the way of thinking about actions where I can help more. But always, always, I help other people to be focused on change and to do things that they are really proud of and feel good doing because they help them to be better people and professionals. I think I also contribute my grain of sand, always being next to the people who need it, because I was very happy to have people who invested their time with me, something that they can only invest once, and stayed side by side with me. I feel indebted to other people who also need time and help to develop themselves.

In what point are you in your career?

At the moment, I finished my degree, I was in the laboratory, etc. But for two years, I have begun to discover that I am passionate about continuing to create activities, first for the creation of new projects, and more recently helping to develop companies in life sciences so that they can provide solutions in society, as always the impact creation part I take it by the hand. Currently at CataloniaBio & HealthTech, as Project Manager, where I am getting to know the business world a lot, and the truth is, it is a world that does not stop, and it is fascinating. One of the association’s strengths is that it reflects the transversality of the life science sector in Catalonia, boosts it as a whole and helps create synergies for the future among start-ups and companies that develop products (biopharmaceutical, medical technology, and digital health), service firms (scientific and non-scientific), investors, research centers and hospitals.

“In YEBN, we help people to see the number of opportunities that exist and also create tools which are a series of mentoring programs, training, debates, job opportunities, that help them inspire and involve.”

What’s your dream professional career?

I hope to continue learning and developing myself, it is something that we must never stop doing. And I want to continue helping to create synergies and develop both talent and organizations that want to do something for the benefit of society. At the moment, I like the link between talent and company, and it is a link that I would like to continue to maintain both feedback.

What do you like/dislike most about your job or what you study?

Well, I am passionate about designing and innovating, and this consists of creating programs, activities, and initiatives that in many moments are accompanied by important administrative management, which in some moments is somewhat long. But equally, it is something that helps you see the whole process from creation to debriefing.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I have a lot of hobbies, and sometimes I wonder how I maintain them. If I had to choose one, the music. I love creating rhythms, melodies, and lyrics that accompany stories. I am currently in a band together with my partner Alexis Pérez, he on guitar and I on vocals, creating their own songs and the truth learning a lot from each other, something that I love. I also have to say that I love watching series and movies, going to art museums, and knowing what is hidden behind each painting, sculpture, illustration, etc. I am also passionate about escape rooms, board games, and going out on the bike and walking.

Important advice for others, what have you learned.

So far, I have learned the importance of people. We are the ones who move the world, with every action we take, no matter how small. In addition, the importance of having a focus on specific things also makes projects go ahead. The key and the balance between these two are magical, and the number of things that motivation, interest, and desire can create is unimaginable. I want each person, rather than discovering themselves, to begin a process of building themselves with the pieces of experience and knowledge they choose. And that they help society create a sustainable impact in this world, it is our home, and we have to take care of it.

I have learned the importance of people. We are the ones who move the world, with every action we take, no matter how small.

Many thanks for your interview and for sharing your great experiences!