Patrick Tjok Joe
Patrick joined Agio as a Business Analyst in Healthcare in the early days of the company, after obtaining his PhD in translational immunology & infectious disease vaccines from the University of Brussels (2018). During his PhD, he played a key part in several international research collaborations & public-private partnerships, and obtained an additional Master in Management at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management (2018). Using this dual background in science & business, he currently supports the Agio healthcare from the Europe office in Belgium.
When did you join AGIO Capital and how did you get in touch with us?
I joined Agio 3 years ago at the start of our healthcare vertical right after my PhD via Henk Joos, our director. I met him 2 years before joining Agio at one of the career events of Flanders.Bio, the Biobizz Café, which was actually the first career event that I ever joined. I was late to the event and couldn’t find where the event was held inside the huge corporate building, not to mention that the reception hall was already dark and abandoned. Luckily, there was one person sitting on a bench close to the entrance who was kind enough to escort me to the Biobizz café room. Turns out he was the managing director of Flanders.Bio, Henk Joos! We had a few nice chats (complemented with Belgian beers) during the event about career paths in business development and Henk’s experience of 30 years in the field. 2 years later, when I was finishing my PhD, I got a message from him asking if I wanted to join Agio as an analyst. Of course I said yes!
Why did you join us?
During my PhD, our lab spun out a biotech company which introduced me to the world of venture capital and biotech industry. As a starting PhD student, you rarely get in touch with the private sector let alone venture capital, strategy and C-level executives, and so I was kind of in awe of this new world opening up to me. Suddenly, you realize that your research and ideas can go beyond publications and doing translational medicine becomes more than just a fancy term, but something more real, more closer to the patient. From my PhD research grant defenses, I also developed a huge interest early on for presenting and defending projects, and so the whole concept of pitching for investors and raising money sounded really cool to me. When the spin-off then raised a € 24M Series A, it really inspired me to pursue a career outside of academia towards business development and finance. Of course, I never expected to be thrown into that world that quickly with Agio!
What do you like about your job, what’s your favorite part?
I actually still have to pinch myself whenever I get to talk to executives, investors, and other professionals who have been in the field 10 times longer than I have. Every conversation you get to learn from their experiences and feedback and perhaps even make new friends. Our collaborations with our partners in China have also given me the opportunity to rediscover parts of my culture. As a 4th generation Chinese immigrant, it is easy to lose touch with your Chinese heritage and most of the stories we’re told are also of a bad time in the country’s history. So it does give a bit of pride when you see how fast the country has grown or when you’re walking through the futuristic financial district of Shanghai to get to your next meeting on time.
What are your future ambitions?
There’s still so much to learn at Agio and becoming a fully fledged business developer capable of high level negotiation and closing deals is really my near future ambition. My passion really is in helping companies grow, so I would like to use my experience in the future to help build new ventures & biotechs. I think being in the middle of the action, instead of being an external advisor, might make for a cool next adventure, though Agio provides enough opportunities to do both.
What are your hobbies, what do you do in your spare time?
In my spare time I enjoy doing kickboxing as it keeps my mind sharp and is a nice change from sitting behind my desk all day. I also love doing photography and multi-day hikes during holidays. There’s something very relaxing about sleeping in nature and just thinking about getting from point A to B with just your feet. I also started salsa dancing, though it’s been a very humbling experience so far!
And at last, why is AGIO different from the rest?
Every project we take on is a new adventure, each with its own challenges and puzzle pieces. Not to mention that the life sciences market, especially in China, is really dynamic and constantly evolving, so not only do you have to understand the case of the client, but also keep a very close eye on the market. I think these are 2 things we do very well at Agio with having boots on the ground in both Europe and China, as well as having a very diverse team with both scientific backgrounds and experienced entrepreneurs who have built successful companies before and know the challenges. Our team is also very tight-knitted, and basically we work on every project together with the entire group making sure we look at every angle of the case and making the most of our diverse backgrounds. Open communication and Trust, are key themes in our group and I think that this really makes the difference to our clients.