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Martin de Bustamante '08 Th'09 sees success in business

Apr 13, 2016   |   by Ashley DuPuis   |   The Dartmouth

Monica Martin de Bustamante '08 Th'09 on the soccer field
Photo courtesy of Monica Martin de Bustamante

Since leaving the Dartmouth fold, Monica Martin de Bustamante ’08 Th’09 has been forging ahead on her own terms. Her career has taken place on a global stage, focusing on global pharmaceutical pricing and market access issues for biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical products.

Martin de Bustamante, however, has always operated within a global community. She lived in Madrid, Spain until she was 14, before relocating to Los Altos Hills, California. At Dartmouth, Martin de Bustamante majored in engineering sciences and Romance languages before completing her fifth year in engineering at the Thayer School of Engineering, all while finding a place on both the soccer field and the rugby pitch as an undergraduate and graduate student.

Just two years out of Thayer, she founded her own biopharmaceutical consulting firm, CBPartners, where she now serves as a managing director. While her engineering degree has clearly aided her entrepreneurial efforts, Martin de Bustamante’s fluency in Spanish and Italian has allowed her to conduct thousands of interviews in the native languages of the emerging and mature markets she examines. Friends say that they are not surprised by her rapid success, citing her work ethic and interpersonal skills as some key factors.

“I mean if you were to look at somebody in her age group, and skill set I would be surprised if that were the baseline, but for Monica absolutely not,” said Sasha Acher ’06, a friend of Martin de Bustamante’s from her time at Thayer. “She just draws opportunity and people into her world and just makes things happen, so it’s not surprising at all that she is completely successful this early. Because of her willingness to live on the edge and just go for something, it doesn’t surprise me where she is now.”

Annie Greengard ’08, a close friend of Martin de Bustamante, echoed this sentiment, pointing to Martin de Bustamante’s dynamism as a component of her success.

“I think that she is a natural leader, first and foremost, and I saw that in variety of settings,” Greengard said. “She is also very charismatic and energetic, and that is very galvanizing.”

Martin de Bustamante’s choice of academic path has clearly played a role in her career. For Martin de Bustamante, though, the confluence of academics and athletics is what she believes set her on her current path. Over the course of her undergraduate education, Martin de Bustamante was a forward on the women’s soccer team while also coupling the demands of a rigorous academic workload.

“Engineering is very challenging, it’s a lot of work, and somehow Monica was able to do athletics and engineering at the same time,” Acher, also a former student athlete, said. “I think that she certainly thrived very well and can multitask. She performs well under pressure, and I think that she developed that in various capacities in athletics.”

As challenging as the demands of athletics and academics may have been, these strains were paired with a new challenge during Martin de Bustamante’s junior spring when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus. Her dedication easily translated into facing new challenges, and by her senior year, Martin de Bustamante had fought her way back to the field, serving as the team’s co-captain with close friend and former roommate Annie Hendricks ’08.

“Monica is a phenomenal leader,” Hendricks said. “Our senior year she was fighting through a knee injury for the bulk of the season, and her resilience and her commitment to the team still showed through all that, even though she wasn’t able to play for the bulk of the year. It was just a testament to her character.”

When it looked as if Martin de Bustamante’s Dartmouth athletic career would end again with graduation, she merely redirected herself. While finishing her engineering degree, Martin de Bustamante joined the Dartmouth Women’s Rugby Club, a club team that has since become one of Dartmouth’s varsity programs. She continued to shine on the rugby pitch, helping the team reach nationals.

Unfortunately, injury struck again when Martin de Bustamante tore her ACL for the second time, as well as her medial collateral ligament in a match-up against women’s rugby powerhouse Pennsylvania State University in the team’s first game at nationals. However, to Martin de Bustamante, the sum of her athletic experience was greater than losses or injuries. What mattered far more was the skills she learned as a student-athlete, both on and off the field.

“No, I don’t think I would be where I’m at [if not for athletics],” Martin de Bustamante said. “I know it sounds odd, but there’s sense of toughness that you gain from sports. There’s a relentless mentality that you grow. There’s always a drive to do better.”

This relentless mentality allowed Martin de Bustamante to balance the competing demands of a collegiate student-athlete, and taught her to strike a balance in founding and running a business in her career today.

Martin de Bustamante recounted long days that required early morning and afternoon practices, coupled with late nights at Thayer. In addition to a demanding academic and sports life, she also maintained a social space outside of athletics, as a member of Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, that allowed her to meet people from around campus.

“[Although with being a student athlete], you have to figure out when everything is going to get done,” Martin de Bustamante said. “Commitment is required, especially with the rigor of Dartmouth.”

In addition to drive and time management, Martin de Bustamante also notes the role working in a team environment has had on her career.

“[In athletics], it really doesn’t matter what you’re doing on the field unless your teammates are doing the same thing as well,” Martin de Bustamante said, citing the need for a group to be cohesive. “That also carries over to what I do now, and builds upon the critical thinking aspect of engineering.”

Hendricks made a similar observation in the role athletics plays in building teamwork, and how her former teammate has applied this to her career.

“Playing at Dartmouth for four years, and throughout life every year you’re playing with new people, you learn to work with different individuals and how to lead and inspire them in different ways. And Monica’s ability to relate and work with so many people has been a big reason for her success,” Hendricks said. “And she’s just a hard worker as an individual and a teammate and I think that’s also led to her success after school.”

When describing Martin de Bustamante, friends and family are quick to highlight her intelligence, loyalty, kindness and dedication to her work. They also cite her personality as a crucial component to her own success.

“She has this unique ability to be very, very genuine,” Acher said. “She retains her sense of self in lots of different environments, and I think that serves her really well with running her own business. She’s also one of the most adaptable people I’ve ever met. She can thrive in any environment and is willing to live with a sense of spontaneity and adventure. I think her social intelligence benefits her greatly.”

Just as athletics have played a major role in Martin de Bustamante’s life, her Dartmouth have roots also played their part. Her grandfather, John W. Ballard ’55, cousins John R. Ballard ’07 and Kelsey Kittelsen ’17 and wife Michelle Dunn ’09 all have ties to the Big Green. Dunn was also a student-athlete at Dartmouth, playing rugby with Martin de Bustamante.

It is these lessons and connections that continue to influence Martin de Bustamante’s life off of the field. Her drive and passion have already served to inspire others, including cousin Kittelsen, an engineering major and recent addition to the women’s rugby team, who described Martin de Bustamante as passionate and energetic.

“Initially I wasn’t planning on following her path at Dartmouth, but after long conversations with her and living through my own experiences at Dartmouth, I decided to follow a similar path,” Kittelsen said. “She really has had a positive impact on my life.”

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