December 19, 2019

Moderna People Profile

We caught up with alumnus Joe Cabral, who left Moderna to pursue a full-time MBA at University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. 

Joe talks about doing work with big-picture clarity, the importance of being intentional and the best career advice he’s received. 

Name: Joe Cabral
Role: Associate, Flagship Pioneering
Years at Moderna: 4 years
Hometown: Northborough, MA

What exactly did your role at Moderna entail?
I wore multiple hats and spent most of my time helping to build molecular biology and informatics capabilities, including next gen sequencing and software engineering techniques to better understand potential messenger RNA therapies in order to engineer more potent medicines. 

What did you most enjoy about your time at Moderna?
Moderna is this special place that allowed me to do basic research on a problem I found extremely compelling and with near-perfect clarity as to how my work related to the bigger picture—improving outcomes for patients. This idea directly informed the next phase of my career and where I am today.

What drew you to Moderna originally? 
I was immediately drawn to the modified RNA technology—a rare combination of something simple and elegant but with world-changing potential. That, in combination with a passionate and ambitious team, felt like something I couldn’t miss.

Why did you decide to make a career change?
I was becoming less interested in what I was doing at the technical level and was more interested in how company creation could be used as a vehicle to accelerate the impact of scientific innovation in a variety of contexts.

What was the next step on your life/career path after Moderna?
I went to the University of Michigan to pursue an MBA with emphases in Healthcare and Entrepreneurship, and quickly returned to Kendall Square after graduation to join Flagship Pioneering.

How did you land in your current role?
During my MBA internship, I participated in Flagship’s 12-week Summer Fellows Program, where innovator-entrepreneurs help create the next wave of disruptive life science startups. After that experience, I was hooked, and thankfully had the opportunity to join Flagship full-time after graduation.

Where do you find career guidance? What’s the best guidance you’ve received?
I like getting to know people and hearing their stories, which often leads to deeper connections and mentorship. The best guidance I’ve received: 1) not all advice is right—you need to pick out the pieces that make sense for you, and 2) it’s good to be uncomfortable—it means you are learning!

What are your three favorite things to do on the weekend?
Hike, ski and go to folk music concerts!

Which Moderna core value do you most embody—bold, collaborative, curious, relentless?
Curiosity has always resonated most with me. I try to exercise curiosity in nearly every part of my life and find it pretty much always leads to good things.

As a Moderna alumnus, how do you keep in touch with current employees and other alumni?
I feel grateful to still be in touch with many Moderna employees and alums—on text, email and through meetups around Kendall Square.

What advice would you give someone looking to make a career transition?
Be intentional not opportunistic. Use a framework to map out your ultimate destination and play the movie backward from there to understand various scenarios and to help direct what you do today.

We are proud to be recognized by Science Careers as a top employer (2015-2019) and we’re always looking for smart, talented and passionate people like Joe. Want to join the team? See all open positions and find out more about why it’s good to be part of the Moderna family.