Summary of Career Imprints

Creating Leaders across an Industry

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Career Imprints book summary
Medical supply giant Baxter International developed the talent that launched the biotech industry. It was no accident.


8 Overall

8 Applicability

8 Innovation

6 Style


Imagine that you’re an extremely bright 28-year-old M.B.A. graduate working for one of the world’s largest medical supply firms. You’re told on a Friday that you’ll be running a division in another country on Monday. Most reasonable people would consider that scenario outrageous and unrealistic. But it happened all the time at Baxter International, which placed young, relatively inexperienced employees in positions of extraordinary responsibility with no warning. Twenty-five years ago, many of those individuals became major players in the then-fledgling biotechnology industry. Harvard Business School professor Monica C. Higgins takes an exhaustive look at how and why a disproportionate number of former Baxter executives became so influential in biotech start-ups. Her extensive research reveals that Baxter was the ideal training ground for innovative thinkers and risk-takers. She sees Baxter as a textbook example of how imprinting corporate culture and values upon an individual can have a career-shaping impact. The book, though more scholarly than entertaining, provides insight into career imprinting and its implications. getAbstract recommends it to anyone interested in learning how individuals and industries are molded.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How career imprinting helped former Baxter managers succeed in the biotech industry
  • What career imprinting implies
  • How companies shape careers


Laying the Foundation
A large number of former Baxter International managers played significant roles in the development of the American biotechnology industry. From 1979 to 1996, ex-Baxter managers helped launch roughly 25% of all new biotechnology start-ups. This is not a coincidence...
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About the Author

Monica C. Higgins is an associate professor at the Harvard Business School. Her research on careers and leadership development has been widely published in professional journals.

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