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Meet Brandy Bullen of Sequoia Consulting Group in Solana Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandy Bullen.

Brandy, a Connecticut native, moved to San Diego fresh out of Radford University, with a degree in biology.

While the burgeoning biotech community was a perfect fit, being stuck in a lab was not the best place for an admitted “people person” who was also an early adopter of the walking, talking meeting. So at 22 years old, Bullen began a recruiting career with Invitrogen that would take her on a fantastic ride through the early lifecycle of San Diego’s biotech beginnings, with leadership roles at Biogen Idec, Genentech, Illumina and ultimately the launch of her own business, Sequoia Consulting Group. “It was so much fun and there were so much passion and energy – it was exciting to be part of that start-up mentality at a time of incredible growth and discovery,” Bullen said.

She went from being part of a team of 200 people to one of 10,000 people, and ultimately one of 40,000. Bullen says she “geeked out” on genomics and where it could take science and health care, and she saw businesses like Illumina explode to become one of the world’s most successful life sciences companies. During that same time, Bullen made deep connections, friendships and ties to the local community that define her today as an entrepreneur, business owner, colleague, wife, mom and friend. She also saw big consultants hired for big money to come in, map out plans, spend millions and then walk away without actually doing much work. “The real need was for people who would roll up their sleeves and get stuff done,” Bullen said. “People who were not into politics or status – just doers.”

Over the years, Bullen realized that she was hiring some of the same key people again and again. “I saw that if you have the right people, you can ‘plug and play’ experts into just about any situation, and they will succeed,” Bullen said. Her original vision for Sequoia Consulting Group was to have a boutique operation of 10 to 20 people. “But as I got into it, I realized space was unfulfilled and really good people were needed.” That was the beginning of Sequoia Consulting Group – and a return to Bullen’s roll-up-your-sleeves, get-the-work-done, small startup roots.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Has it been a smooth road? Hell no! There have been tons of challenges. I’ve made mistakes. I’d never run my own business before – so much of it was new to me — the maturation process and such rapid growth and then the scaling process. Communication is still one of our biggest challenges because as we grow, it’s harder for me to reach employees and clients individually across several locations. So I’ve had to find new tools and methods to do that.

Also, getting awesome benefits is not easy when you are a small business. It’s sometimes a challenge to make people feel consistently important, happy and needed – again, it’s very much like a family. Letting go can be a struggle for me; I have to realize that I can’t always be at every meeting, and I’ve learned to delegate.

Please tell us about Sequoia Consulting Group.
Sequoia partners with life sciences organizations — from startups to big pharma — to provide best-in-class leadership, guidance and expertise in an ongoing journey of growth through the life science lifecycle, with sustained success and optimized efficiency. We drive solutions forward through industry experience, innovation and proven performance. Fully understanding our customer needs and expectations, we provide the required network of resources and subject matter experts to build strong, enduring relationships with our clients based on trust, hands-on hard work and measurable results.

But what really sets us apart? There are not a lot of consulting companies out there who do it with heart. Our people are our biggest asset; we are keenly aware of that. Sequoia brings in the best-of-the-best to do a job, and our clients are so good – also the best-of-the-best – so we need to provide reasons to keep our talent from leaving us. It’s not just about money, it’s also about providing the best insurance, best benefits, touching people’s hearts, giving back and doing what we do with passion. It’s the complete package.

I love the San Diego biotech and life sciences community. In many ways, we all grew up together. We are like a family. That’s why I wanted to start a business that felt like a family and takes care of its family with great benefits, unity, stability and heart. I set out to do that in 2013 and it just took off – we’ve gone from a handful of people to now almost 100 people.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
My proudest moment? Many moments stand out, but our Sequoia Gives Back event this past May made filled me with gratitude and pride. We raised more than $12,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities San Diego and brought entrepreneurs together to share inspiring stories of how to overcome obstacles and succeed. It was such a beautiful afternoon of learning, giving and connecting.

It brought all my worlds together – family, professional and personal. It was a way of giving back and helping other businesses with their growth, while also celebrating those who have been there for me and my family. Also, being named among 51 San Diego Top Workplaces by The San Diego Union-Tribune for 2017 was pretty great!

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