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Daya Fields, MBA ’07

Daya Fields, MBA ’07, joins Christopher Reichert, MOT ’04, to discuss her career journey in the world of corporate cosmetics. She shares how a trek she went on while at MIT Sloan led her to begin a career in the beauty and personal care space, where she is now the President of Pipette and Purecane at Amyris.

Sloanies Talking with Sloanies is a conversational podcast with alumni and faculty about the MIT Sloan experience and how it influences what they're doing today. Subscribe and listen on Apple Podcasts, Google, and Spotify

Christopher Reichert: Welcome to Sloanies Talking with Sloanies, a candid conversation with alumni and faculty about the MIT Sloan experience and how it influences what they're doing today. So, what does it mean to be a Sloanie? Over the course of this podcast you'll hear from guests who are making a difference in their community, including our own very important one here at MIT Sloan.

Hi, I'm your host, Christopher Reichert and welcome to Sloanies Talking with Sloanies. My guest today is Daya Fields, a leader in the beauty and personal care space for almost 15 years. Welcome, Daya.

Daya Fields: It's great to be here, Christopher. Thank you so much for reaching out and connecting with me. It's been a long time since I walked down memory lane at Sloan and I'm looking forward to catching up.

Christopher Reichert: Excellent. Great to have you. So, Daya is the President of Pipette and Purecane at Amyris Corporation. She recently led Purecane brand to be selected as one of the most innovative brands by Fast Company in March of 2021, during the pandemic. She previously served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product Development at Alaffia, a mission-based, all-natural, personal care product range for baby, body, and health and wellness, which... I've seen that in the stores, Target, I'm pretty sure Whole Foods…

Daya Fields: Yes, exactly.

Christopher Reichert: Prior to this role, she spent a decade in New York, where she spent a majority of her time at Estée Lauder Companies, making a business impact in the Jo Malone London, Estée Lauder, and Clinique brands.

She has been recognized by prestigious organizations, including Conscious Company magazine's list of World-Changing Women, INNOCOS' Global Cosmetics Summit for their Forces of Change list, and she currently serves on the advisory board of Cosmetic Executive Women's West Coast Committee. Also sitting on advisory boards at INNOCOS Global Cosmetics, Netrush, Saint Martin University’s School of Business, and Homes First Non-Profit Organization. So, quite an active life.

Daya Fields: Yes. I'm booked and busy. Yes.

Christopher Reichert: So, let's see, where to begin? Okay, wait a minute... Fermented sugar cane using yeast that has zero calories. Come on, what's the catch?

Daya Fields: There is no catch. It is science powered by nature. The interesting thing about Amyris—it's not your typical consumer packaged goods company. It's actually a biotech company. So, most of the people there are scientists, work on molecule development, work on fermentation, biofuels, also vaccine platforms. And there's a unit which I'm in called the Amyris consumer unit. And that's where we have all of our consumer-packaged goods brands and skincare and food and more to launch in makeup and other brands coming down the pipeline.

 But, no catch at all!

Christopher Reichert: It tastes good?

Daya Fields: It tastes delicious.

Christopher Reichert: And it's available?

Daya Fields: It is available right now because it's a very young brand—only about a year—actually, we celebrated our first birthday in March. It's available on and on Amazon. And how it tastes like, I don't know if you've tasted any sugar substitutes before? The leading competitors—I won't say their names...

Christopher Reichert: The pink, or the yellow.

Daya Fields: Exactly. Or the blue. They usually have a bad aftertaste, right? It usually just doesn't taste quite like sugar. Like they never nail it.

Christopher Reichert: Right.

Daya Fields: And Purecane does. I mean, it's so good, my children love it.

Christopher Reichert: I was reading a bit on it and there's a connection... The closest, I guess, would be Stevia, but they didn't quite nail the extended sweetness, I think. There was some sort of molecule, right?

Daya Fields: Correct.

Christopher Reichert: That's incredible that through yeast, it's pulled together. So Amyris has a number of different brands of which Purecane and Pipette are part of it. And am I right to say that it's an organization that lends its technical expertise to other brands to enhance their products, as well as having its own line of brands?

Daya Fields: Absolutely. We have a B2B unit, a business-to-business unit where we sell ingredients to major consumer packaged goods corporations. If you see some of the CPG conglomerates on the Fortune 500, chances are we are selling our ingredients to many of them.

Christopher Reichert: I saw one, was it Michelin, that's, that's one of your customers? Or maybe was it Pirelli? It did not look to me like a company that I would eat anything from.

Daya Fields: So, they also do biofuels as well, clean biofuels. So they have a business in that area. So, I'm not 100% familiar with their client list on that part of the business, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Christopher Reichert: Let's go back to your personal vision and outlook. You started out, you mentioned evolving from a sort of prestige and luxury product range to mainstream beauty and personal care, in particular clean brands and sustainable brands. So tell us about that.

Daya Fields: Yes. I found the world of corporate cosmetics in Sloan, actually, my first semester. I went to something called the EuroTrek, which is a finance-based career fair in London. I don't know if they still have it, but they did it when I was at Sloan. And I actually went there not for the career fair. I went there because it was an eight day trip to London. I had never been before. Lots of my classmates were going. I got that good old peer pressure, and I went.

One of my friends, Julie Columbus, who was actually in my ocean, the Baltic Ocean, said to me, "What are you going to do, stay in the hotel room? You might as well come to the career fair. I mean, just walk around." And I was like, "You know what, you're right."

And literally, her telling me to register and just go with her, was that life-changing experience. You know, that there's points in time where you realize like, wow, the road just changed, and it became that.

So, I went there and there was Goldman Sachs, and there was Morgan Stanley, and all the companies in the industry I really wasn't excited about. And then, all of a sudden, I saw L’Oréal and I was like, "You know what? I have a personal passion for beauty, the whole category. Skincare, body care, makeup, fragrance, nail. Let me go in and see what they're talking about. Are they selling cosmetics?" I thought, right?

So, I went in there and I actually was the only one in the audience. Why? Because it was a finance career fair. And they talked about the fact that there's these corporations behind the brands, doing strategy, doing marketing, and doing new product launches. And it really just kind of opened up my eyes. And I stayed in contact with the recruiter that did the presentation, because it really just became a conversation when there's one person in the audience. And she followed up with me and she said, "We really liked meeting you. You're not right for the European areas of L’Oréal because you don't have a strong second language," which was true. "But I contacted the New York offices and we're setting up interviews for you there."

And that email came in probably a week after I got back from London. And then another email came through to me from New York, the L’Oréal headquarters from New York. I had my interviews a couple weeks later, things went really, really well. And I had landed my first beauty gig. So, because I landed in the prestige luxury space, I stayed there for a long time. At the time, specialty, department store was really where beauty was that I was interested in, and it had strong growth. Prestige cosmetics had really strong growth back then, but things have shifted and mass and masstige have really taken over a lot of the growth. They're having a lot...

Christopher Reichert: That was a new word, wait a minute, masstige?

Daya Fields: Masstige, yes.

Christopher Reichert: Mass market, but with a prestige edge?

Daya Fields: Exactly. You got it.

What happened is it was a trajectory. I really learned my foundation for beauty and cosmetics in prestige, because while I was there that summer working for Giorgio Armani Beauty that is owned by L’Oréal, I also met Estée Lauder Companies that summer too. And so I interviewed with them, I had a difficult choice to make, but I chose to go with Estée Lauder Companies because it had a great rotational program and I definitely wanted that experience. It also had longer tenure than any of the other companies in the industry.

Christopher Reichert: You mean that your colleagues didn't rotate in and out as quickly?

Daya Fields: That's right. Say, for example, the average tenure for someone in beauty in a role might be two years, right? So Lauder's tenure was more like four and a half to five. And I liked that. I really liked that, and made me feel like people had a pretty good time working there.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah, that implies a positive culture, right? And positive professional opportunities as well.

Daya Fields: Absolutely. And I just loved all the brands. All of the brands were in the luxury and specialty space that Lauder owns for licenses. And I thought I could get a really good experience, become a master in that space from the company. So that's the trick to me.

Christopher Reichert: Is it my imagination or, or has the masstige—I like that word by the way—market grown tremendously over the last 10 or 15 years?

Daya Fields: Tremendously. And especially over this last year, because while department stores were closed and malls were closed, your grocery stores were open. And so the beauty and personal care, you would have to get them in food, mass and drug. Food, mass and drug was open the whole time during the pandemic.

Christopher Reichert: You're forced to probably use other brands that you might not have used before.

Daya Fields: That's right. Usually, before, they would have consumers trading up from masstige to luxury. And now what you've seen over the last year, is a lot of consumers trading down from prestige to innovative brands in the mass space, especially brands that are natural or clean, because of everything that we've experienced during the pandemic.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah, and I've noticed that in Target... I have three young children, which, I understand you do as well.

Daya Fields: Yes.

Christopher Reichert: So, we can cover the challenges of remote learning and working from home. But I've had more than my share of occasions to go into Target for various products. And sometimes, there's just extra time where I kind of wander around and look at different products. And I've noticed... So, my daughters are 13, 12, and 10. So, even over the last decade-plus, that they've changed from their home brands of one type to new home brands, but also new niche brands, particularly there's a band-aid, Olly's, I want to say they're called? But the spin on those has been, from my perception, that it's like anti-corporate, in the sense that this was created by a person with a vision. And so you're getting something that's not been completely watered down by, let's say, focus groups or something like that. It's kind of like a Ben and Jerry edge, is what I'm getting at, where you still think Ben and Jerry are churning the ice cream, even though it's owned by I don't know who, but somebody big I'm sure.

Daya Fields: Just to answer that question, millennials and Gen Z, that's what they were raised to do. They were raised to support organizations, very small organizations that are small business, that are sustainable, that you know the people who are creating your products and that run the brand, that are influencer-based a lot of the times, because that's how they hear about it, either through their friend network or some social media, definitely. And your daughters, at that age, they actually wouldn't be Gen-Z. They would be Generation Alpha. And if Generation Alpha has any type of access to kind of information and beauty on social media, TV, internet, they are supporting the same things that Gen Z does. So, that doesn't surprise me.

Christopher Reichert: Interesting. So, how do you break into those crowded markets? So you're in charge of... Let's step back for a second. So you're in charge of two brands, Pipette and Purecane. Two different areas. How do you kind of balance the needs of one versus the other? I don't know if their business cycles are similar, or... So tell me about that.

Daya Fields: In terms of my experience, I got my experience working on food category at Alaffia, because although it's very strong in personal care, and as you noted, a top brand in Whole Foods, also at Target as well, it had a food category where we sold cooking oils and supplements with ingredients that were indigenous to West Africa. So, I really got my feet wet when I was at Alaffia, marketing food and doing product development there. So I took that expertise to Amyris. And one of the reasons why it was such a good fit is because I had the personal care and mass from Alaffia. And I had a lot of beauty experience, because we have a mom's category of products in Pipette, the skincare brand, that is more masstige type of skincare. They were looking for someone who had the skincare and masstige experience with personal care and also food. So that's why I'm such a good fit there.

Now, how do I balance it? I balance it by prioritizing. Pipette is the second largest brand in the consumer unit. And because of that, it is number two to Biossance, which is another huge brand in Sephora that we own. And because of that, I do spend most of my time there because I have the bigger annual goals to try to achieve there. So, that's how I balance my time, number one.

And then number two, the great thing about it is that these both are clean mass brands. So what my strategy has been in, is I usually get into retailers, whether they're online or brick and mortar, with Pipette and solidify that relationship, let them know I'll be talking to them down the road for my other brand in their food aisles and their food category. And so we already have a relationship and they've already worked with Amyris. So it makes the next steps for Purecane much easier.

Christopher Reichert: That's interesting. So, another thing that's interesting is that successful people, when you kind of look back on their career trajectory, there's a tendency to assume that it was all planned out. It was a matter of executing on that plan. Tell me about your journey. So even prior to going to Sloan and then, for that matter, choosing Sloan to advance your career.

Daya Fields: A lot of my career track and personal track with kids, family, career decisions, was slightly planned out. I'm not saying it all went according to as planned. You know, I definitely had some detours in the road and some just stops and pauses and reflection and then, you know, pivoting. Definitely always had a plan because I feel like successful people need to, they don't usually wing it, right?

Why I chose Sloan is because Sloan is well-known for supporting engineers that want to transform their career into business, leadership, and entrepreneurship. And I was that girl. I was a mechanical engineering major with a math minor, a models and data analysis minor. And I had done mostly operations and business analysis jobs before I got to Sloan. And I actually was the operations manager for PBS, the WGBH station, for about three years before.

Christopher Reichert: Here in Boston?

Daya Fields: There in Boston, exactly. Right before Sloan. And it was at that job that I was on cross-functioning teams with the marketers, and thinking every time I came from a meeting with them that their part of the project is always so creative, always so innovative. They take the numbers and the data, and they produce new products based upon the response of the consumer. And I was always the one that was making sure all the backend operations was working. And that really appealed to the process part of me and the analytical part of me, for sure. But I have this big creative, expressive side to me that wasn't being met. And so I talked to some of my mentors and they said, "Looks like you need to go back to school and reinvent yourself."

And I said, "You know, I have a great degree. I'm smart. I can apply. I bet you I can get a job in marketing." After many failures, I was like, "You're right. I do have to go back to school." And because MIT is just so great at helping engineers transform.

I also grew up in the Boston area for like 30 years, so MIT was always in my backyard. All the Boston-area schools were always there. I knew people who graduated from MIT, good friends of the family worked in administration in different areas of undergrad MIT. So, it wasn't a stretch. And I think one of the biggest things is one of my best friends, who's class of 2006, which is the class before me. He was like, "Daya, I know you're thinking about business school. You got to come visit. I'm having the time of my life." His name is Orane Barrett—shout out to Orane, class of 2006. And he really kind of sealed the deal for me. It was those three reasons.

Christopher Reichert: You also talked about one of your best friends at Sloan was Andy, am I right on that?

Daya Fields: Yeah. Yeah. I call him AC, but his name is Andrew. Yeah, he was great. We were on a lot of teams together and he challenged me, like whenever I tried to give maybe a basic answer, he was like, "Okay, let's up-level it. Let's think more. Let's think deeper, you know, let's really figure this out." So it was great to have him as someone I was really close to who helped challenge me. And we're still in contact today.

Christopher Reichert: So, do you have any, any particular memories at Sloan that stand out for you or the classes you took or classes you missed, or social?

Daya Fields: Professors and experiences. My favorite professors were Ken Morris. Ken Morris was the person to go to for entrepreneurship. I took his course, he sponsored the Turkey trek and that was a life changing experience going to Turkey with my classmates that helped coordinate it. And he taught me some great fundamentals about entrepreneurship that I use in my businesses now. Even though they're part of a publicly traded company, the brands themselves are very entrepreneurial and very startup, right? So he was a favorite.

And then my other two favorites were in the communications department, which is Roberta Pittore, who's still there, and Neal Hartman, who's still there. And you know, a lot of people who didn't value communication, like “Communication for Managers” was a chore, but for them, like I loved it. I loved the expression. I loved the ability to fine tune my persuasion, influence. And then I became a teacher's assistant for that course the following year. So those were my three favorite professors and classes. And I miss my experience at ESA Business School. I did the exchange program the last semester. ESA is great because they had a focus in luxury products and fashion, and that was a great way to round out what I was going into full-time.

Christopher Reichert: On Ken Morris, for a minute, I have two memories of him. One was, he gave a networking talk, which was, you know, “don't hog the food table, or linger by the bar too closely.”

Daya Fields: Yes.

Christopher Reichert: And he had this incredible ability to know when a person was daydreaming in his class, because he would ask a question and just point right at that person to have them finish the sentence. And if they were not paying attention, it's like, "Cashflow is more important than your...?"

Daya Fields: "Mother!"

Christopher Reichert: Exactly! But if they weren't paying attention, they were like, "uh, uh, uh..." Boy, if you did that once, you didn't do it twice.

Daya Fields: Exactly. Listen, that acronym. First of all, the first day he put that on the board, gave people 25 minutes, they still couldn't figure it out. So, he had to let them know. But what I will say is that, at the time, I felt that was a little cold, but now, I see his point.

Christopher Reichert: I don't bring it up at Thanksgiving with my parents, let’s put it that way, but I get it.

I know a quote that you're fond of is, "The future depends on what you do today," from Gandhi. So here you are, president of two brands or two organizations within Amyris. How do you see your position? I guess there are two topics here. One is, first of all, you're a woman in a senior position, the C-suite. So when I talk about how that feels and if you're the only one there, and the dynamic in the room. Let's start with that, see where we go.

Daya Fields: So, at Amyris, I am definitely not, by far, the only woman in the C-suite. As a matter of fact, I don't have the stats on the top of my head, but I want to say that like over 50% of the C-suite at Amyris is women, probably. I mean, my Chief People Officer is a woman. All of the brand presidents for consumer are women. Yeah, there is definitely strong women leadership there, which helps. And I feel like I am not alone, and that I have comradery there.

Christopher Reichert: That's excellent. And, and how about a woman of color in a senior position in that way?

Daya Fields: So, at Amyris, I am the only woman of color in the C-suite. In my past roles, I have always been the most senior person that is a person of color. Just in general, when I look down the line, the last kind of 10 years.

I think that it comes with its benefits because you're unique. But it also comes with a lot of challenges. And I think that the challenges, some of them are self-imposed in terms of how you feel, overthinking things, over-analyzing things, maybe preparing way too much because you feel you have to bring that to overcompensate.

Christopher Reichert: You are representing more than yourself.

Daya Fields: Yes, exactly. You feel like you are representing more than yourself. Like you are the person who can make the way for the second tier.

Christopher Reichert: Or ruin it.

Daya Fields: You know what I mean? Things like that. Yeah. Or ruin it, or ruin it.

Christopher Reichert: Or at least, think that you're ruining it.

Daya Fields: Yes. I think if I could give advice to anybody else who is a person of color at a high level in their organizations, is that it's okay to try to get out of your own head. There is a lot of things that are real, but I think that what's going on today, 2020, things with social impact, it is... You can stay in your head and you can paralyze yourself when it might not be necessary within that surrounding. That surrounding is actually safe. So that would be a heads-up, I would say.

Christopher Reichert: So, you work on Homes First as a Board of Advisors. You're based in the Seattle area, am I right?

Daya Fields: In the Seattle area, yes.

Christopher Reichert: The headquarters for Amyris is Emeryville. Is that just because those brands were up in that way?

Daya Fields: No. I was hired and onboarded during the pandemic. And Amyris has learned a lot through this pandemic period, as well as many companies, large and small. And we had the best year financially in terms of meeting our sales goals this last year and everybody was remote. So we have a hybrid structure. And, I obviously traveled because I need to meet with third parties, I need to go to HQ. But I do my work remotely, as well as my teams.

Christopher Reichert: So, was that hybrid present before or accelerated because of the pandemic?

Daya Fields: It's accelerated.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah. No, it sounds typical. And it's interesting. I think one of the challenges will be parsing, how much can stay and how much you want to go back to less remote or less hybrid, how much you want to keep and move forward from an operational perspective, right?

Daya Fields: Yes. Because you definitely need to be there, if there's something business objective-wise that really requires you to meet in person. But I think that with our organization, we're always going to make sure, even though in-person meetings are happening, that we still have the virtual component, because we don't want to take a step back in the progress. We want to keep moving forward with what we've learned. And I have people on my teams that live in Brazil. So, I always have to have the virtual component. I have hired people on my Pipette brand that are best-in-class in e-com and sales and brand marketing that are a plane ride away from HQ. So, we'll always have that virtual component.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah. I imagine Jack Welch would have freaked out... Wasn't he famous for management by walking around? I guess that's a new class of leadership for sure.

A lot of the work you're doing, I mean, Homes First, for example, is mission-based. And I know obviously with the products that you're promoting now, but also probably in development, are clean, sustainable, and sort of good for not only the consumer, but also the entire process of producing the product is good for the earth and whatnot. Tell us how Homes First fits in with your life view?

Daya Fields: Absolutely. So I feel through Amyris, I'm making a global impact. Definitely, throughout the U.S., reaching into global markets because we're now in China. And we have actually launched in Canada through Amazon Canada, but we will be going into other retailers there too. So I feel like I am reaching globally. Homes First is my effort to make sure that I invest in my local community. And what that organization does is they provide information and financial resources for people who are low-income to obtain affordable housing, rental housing.

I financially support the organization, but I also help in terms of my perspective, in terms of strategy and marketing too, so they can increase the funds that they get as a nonprofit organization. And that organization reaches Thurston County. Thurston County is a county that I lived in for a long time in Washington State. That is one of my efforts to give back locally, as well as my advisory board position at Saint Martin's University as well.

Christopher Reichert: That's excellent. So as a leader and a high-profile leader in your organization, what's your responsibility that you feel towards mentoring other up-and-coming employees, whether they're women or men, or they're not in the industry or in other areas? How do you work with mentoring?

Daya Fields: Well, the importance of it, to me, on a scale of 1-10, it's probably about 100. Because I feel very, very firmly that if it wasn't from my great bosses that I've had in the past. Now, not everybody's been great... But, for the ones at PBS, great bosses, the ones at Estée Lauder and Alaffia are great bosses. And I have a great boss now, an excellent boss now. They made me believe in myself, particularly when I was younger in my career at PBS, that I could stretch more than what I was actually doing.

What I try to do is, I try to look at the best practices from my best bosses, and that's how I try to manage. In my brands, I have promoted probably three people in the last three months.

And, Pipette is under 20 people and Purecane is under five people. So is that is a good chunk, a good amount. I convert consultants to full-time employees that show that they get the culture, get the expectations, and they'd like to work at the brand. When you go in for a consultant position, a lot of them hope and pray it works out for a full-time opportunity. I've done a lot of converting from consultant to full-time. And I also, I mentor through my job. But I also mentor as a part of CEW, Cosmetic Executive Women. I'm on the Small Business Advisory and I have a mentee there named Angela, and she's developing a couple different businesses.

Christopher Reichert: That's excellent. So if you had to have a do-over at Sloan, is there anything that you would go back and say, "Oh, I wish I'd done that, or gone on that trip or taking that course, or..."

Daya Fields: When I was in school, I knew that I would ask myself that three years after I left Sloan. I made sure that I was jam-packed and booked and busy. I basically didn't say no to anything. It was two years of yes to every experience, whether it was... People were concerned, like, "Oh, you're going to go on exchange for one of the semesters of a two-year program? Aren't you afraid that some of the friendships and relationships will be lost?" I said, "These are part of my goals. If a friendship or a relationship gets lost because I have to do what I need to do for myself, then it wasn't a real friendship to begin with."

So from that, to being a TA, to being a Sloan Senator, to being co-president of the Minority Business Club, to producing the admissions video for that year, I really feel like I had the fullest experience.

However, there is a quote that my father would say to me in high school. He would say, "Daya, choose those who choose you." And I never really understood it. I was like, okay, I thought it was one of his dad-isms, you know. And I just put it with the rest. Didn't understand that in my 20s, didn't even really understand that in my 30s, mid-30s. But now, in my late 30s and 40s, I understand it very clearly. And if I could change anything, it would be to have that in the forefront when I was in Sloan. I probably would have spent more time with the relationships that were easy, whether it's personal, business networks, companies, whatever, that were an easy gel and it was a mutual relationship versus spent time and things that were destined not to work.

Christopher Reichert: Yeah, that's interesting. You know, years ago I took... It wasn't a Myers-Briggs, but it was similar to Myers-Briggs. It was a Johnson O'Connor Foundation. It was a very unusual sort of exam, it was as an all-day thing. I went to this ancient house on the Upper East Side of New York City. I was more impressed by the building. But, at the end of it, they came back with an assessment for me. And they said, "You can do anything you want, of course, but you know, you rank high on this, that, and the other thing. But of course, if you want to become, you know, architecture, design, whatever it was... You can become an accountant, but we don't think you would really enjoy it. And it would become work, as opposed to enjoying your life."

I think it's along the same line. Sometimes we discount what comes easily, right?

Daya Fields: Yes, exactly.

Christopher Reichert: So, you talked about saying yes while at Sloan. How do you say no now, wisely?

Daya Fields: That's a great question. When I was at Sloan, I didn't have my own family. I didn't have three children and I definitely didn't have the type of career and professional responsibilities. So it was really easy to say yes. I actually probably say more no now than I do yes, because I have to prioritize. And the things that I choose to be all in, I have to be really good at them. Showing up for work every day and being present for my teams that I manage, for being present for my children, for being present for the extracurricular leadership activities that I decide to take on. So I do say more no than yes. And I do it based upon what my goals are for my life and what makes me feel that I'm adding value to other people and to the community and what I'll be remembered for.

Christopher Reichert: Interesting. So do you have any advice for prospective Sloan students?

Daya Fields: Yes, I do. The prospective advice is: it is okay not to follow the herd. It is okay not to go the finance route. It is okay not to go the consulting route. Find your own path as fast as you can in school, and things will end up working out. Because when I was there, I was really nervous to pursue this. No one else was doing it. There wasn't the support that there is right now for this area. And it was really scary, but it was the right thing to do. So, follow your own path.

Christopher Reichert: That's excellent advice. Well, thanks very much for your time today day, Daya Fields, president of Pipette and Purecane at Amyris Corporation and a 2007 grad of Sloan. I guess your 15th [Reunion] is next year, right? Maybe it will be back in person and all back to normal.

Daya Fields: Yes. And that makes sense, because the Course is 15.

Christopher Reichert: There you go! Yeah.  You will see all the changes down on campus. So it's been great to talk to you today.

Daya Fields: Good to talk to you too. Thank you so much for having me, Christopher.

Christopher Reichert: Thank you.

Sloanies Talking with Sloanies is produced by the Office of External Relations at MIT Sloan School of Management. You can subscribe to this podcast by visiting our website,, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Support for this podcast comes in part from the Sloan annual fund, which provides a central flexible funding to ensure that our community can pursue excellence. Make your gift today by visiting To support this show, or if you have an idea for a topic or a guest you think we should feature, drop us a note at

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