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Vivian Esmailzadeh, BTech '17

Biotechnology | The Bridge Between the Test Tube and the Lipstick

As a process engineer working in R&D for the Estée Lauder Companies, Vivian Esmailzadeh is a crucial link between science and the consumer.

“My job is to act as a ‘middle woman’ between the chemist’s bench and the manufacturing plant,” says the 2016 graduate from McMaster’s Bachelor of Technology, biotechnology program. “I’m tasked with replicating what the chemist created in the lab on a large scale, with equipment constraints and the need to maintain the quality of the product.”

Having a foot in each setting offers her the very satisfying experience of witnessing the manufacturing process from development to mass production of a finished article.

It’s a position she apprenticed for as a co-op student, and that experience was crucial in landing her a permanent full-time job upon graduation. But she says the BTech program also set her up for co-op success by integrating practical work skills, like presentations and experiments, alongside course work and theory lessons.

“I had to deliver a presentation on equipment and testing to a room full of people during my co-op term, and when I finished, I heard people say, ‘hire her,’” Esmailzadeh recalls.

“It was great to graduate with a job secured at a company I already knew aligned with my values and career goals. Estée is known for promoting and valuing women in leadership roles, which was a major attracting factor for me.”

Esmailzadeh, who served on the BTech Executive Council and as a co-op mentor during her four years at McMaster, is continuing her volunteer and philanthropic work. She is now chair of GenNEXT Canada, an internal group at Estée that gives millennial employees opportunities to shape their workplace and community through its pillars of innovation, philanthropy, sustainability and wellness.

“My work ethic and ambition has built a mutual respect with my superiors, allowing me to take on more responsibility in assigned projects,” she says. “My mentors have encouraged me to be bold and to go after an opportunity I want, even if I am intimidated. My personal interests have differentiated me from the crowd of new grads, and my volunteer experiences have taught me invaluable people skills.”