Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School

Leadership Fellows

Sriram Shankar

Background:  I was raised in Chennai (formerly Madras), India and moved to the US to pursue my PhD in Chemistry at the renowned University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. In 1997, I joined Duke University as a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Pathology/Radiology to lead efforts in developing in vivo molecular imaging agents (PET/SPECT) of cancer. I left that role to join a small business R&D firm in Texas where I established and led a program in developing and commercializing proteomic and genomic technologies as low cost, low resource in vitro diagnostics. Before entering KFBS, I co-founded a company that provided technical and business consulting expertise to start-up and early stage client companies founded on technologies transferred, or in transfer stage, from universities in Texas and beyond.

Career Path: 
“The old order changeth yielding place to the new” – Lord Tennyson
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on ye shoulder of giants” – Sir Newton

These two uplifting quotes are my credos. It would be an understatement to say that I am passionate about entrepreneurship. Innovation and entrepreneurship are the life-blood of the US economy. But, beyond their strategic importance to our continued role as world leaders, they also bear high relevance to efforts at improving quotidian quality of life standards for our community, society, and, indeed, the whole world. In addition to being a thought-leader that anticipates and addresses the problems of the future through scientific innovation, I have been interested in playing a role in helping bring extant paradigm-altering, life changing technologies to the marketplace. The Research Triangle Park with its wealth of intellectual capital, progressive community, strong entrepreneurial spirit, and accessible infrastructure and resources, is an ideal incubator in which to bring this ambition to fruition. This was among the main reasons that I chose to return to the Research Triangle and to join the reputed MBA program at Kenan-Flagler in order to gain the additional learning that I needed to be successful in this endeavor.

I am excited, and honored, to be a Kenan Institute Leadership Fellow. In my role, I will be involved in the domain of technology ‘product-to-market’ (P2M) commercialization activities at the Concierge Service for Entrepreneurs initiative within the Kenan Institute. I expect to take maximum advantage of the opportunities provided by KFBS and the Kenan Institute in developing my leadership skills so I may vantage my dual background in science and business to foster and advance the strong entrepreneurial spirit underlying our community and beyond.

Interests and Hobbies:  I have always enjoyed music, hailing from a family of trained musicians, but didn’t fancy myself much as a dancer – until I was introduced to ballroom dancing as a young graduate student. I quickly recognized my passion and affinity for this art form, and have spent many an hour (and dollar) working on perfecting it. I would practice my waltz in my lab, between chemistry experiments, much to the amusement of my fellow graduate students. I have had the fortune to compete as an amateur ballroom dancer at the Championship level at various competitions nationally, and still simply enjoy the idea of entering a ballroom in tails, a beautiful woman in a ballgown in arm, to dance to standards from the Old American Songbook.

When not dancing, I enjoy playing Ultimate Frisbee – a fun, fast paced, and high intensity but lesser known sport. I have been part of various club teams that participated in regional and national tournaments and I was instrumental in organizing the talented but disordered Ultimate community in College Station, TX into a singular, coherent entity. Efforts that I instituted to establish leagues and club teams there have endured. I also enjoy skiing and hiking. I love nature and would love to travel the world someday and take in some, if not all, of the wondrous sites on all seven continents.