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Rian Kelsay was right at home as a science student at Oregon State.
Kelsay also liked being a small business owner, which he was at the same time he was working toward the 2010 completion of his microbiology degree.
What made sense for him after graduation was to find a way to mesh his flair for cellular-level research with his passion for business, and the path he chose was the MBA program at OSU.
“I really enjoyed owning my own company, but I wanted to do something more rewarding,” he said. “I was a research assistant at the vet school and I really enjoyed that, and I wanted to merge the two – running a business in the science field.”
Kelsay, 33, got his first taste of business ownership and management in his mid-20s when he sold a home and used the proceeds to buy the FedEx Ground delivery rights for West Vancouver, Wash. He had spent eight months working as an administrative clerk for FedExGround and then formed a firm called Adenocorp, Inc., that contracted with FedEx to handle deliveries in West Vancouver.
In his role as company owner Kelsay did it all, from payroll to customer service to budgeting to overseeing maintenance on Adenocorp’s fleet of delivery vehicles.
By September 2012 he’d had enough and sought not to leave the business world but to merge it with a return to his laboratory-based roots. He looked at MBA programs in the Portland area – Kelsay lives in Gresham, where he’d gone to high school, graduating from Centennial in 1999 – but was ultimately pulled back to OSU.
“I love the school,” he said. “My uncle (Roger Kelsay) graduated from the business school.”
The MBA program, he continued, “is a great atmosphere. You can do anything you want. Whether you come from science or finance, you can tie it to business and help yourself be happy. I was really drawn to the one-year program. It’s definitely a full plate and a lot of work, but it’s manageable.”
Part of Kelsay’s workload is an integrative business project at the Advantage Accelerator, where his IBP group includes Lasso Metrics company founders Vince Remcho of the Department of Chemistry and Shay Bracha and Jan Medlock of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Lasso Metrics’ technology centers around a low-cost, paper chip designed as a platform for lateral flow assays.
One of the first markets under consideration is veterinary diagnostics as the technology figures to allow various tests to be done at once, saving a clinic both time and money.
“If this project turns into something, I’d like to stay and help it grow, or maybe work for a biotech company,” Kelsay said.
Kelsay says College of Business instructor Tom Dowling has been instrumental in the project, and in turn Dowling has taken note of Kelsay for being “relentless in his pursuit of new knowledge” among other strengths the former delivery company owner adds to OSU’s MBA program.
“He is a mature thinker with an inquisitive mind who is always looking for new ways to innovate,” Dowling said. “He has a tremendous work ethic and brings out the best in others -- on his IBP team and in class discussions.”