Behind the specs

Michael Choi
VP, Corporate Development and Program Management

Michael joined Atonarp in June 2021 and reports to Shaun Holt. He works remotely from San Diego, CA.

Please tell us a little bit about your role.

As the head of Corporate Planning and Program Management, I have a broad scope of responsibilities that include driving corporate strategy, designing and implementing our product development process, understanding our product pipeline and project portfolio priorities, analyzing and forecasting our resource needs, using our sales pipeline to forecast revenue, and executing on our corporate cadence and calendar.

I’m never bored at Atonarp –the technology, the people, and the potential all drive different layers of excitement!

Please share a bit about your training and professional background.

After graduating from MIT with a MS in Organic Chemistry, I started as a Medicinal Chemist at Biogen in Cambridge, MA. There, I transitioned to research operations and then to a program manager for a Phase I clinical program. After getting my MBA at the Rady School of Management at UCSD, I joined Illumina, a then-small San Diego company. In my 8 years there in the corporate strategy and portfolio planning group, I went from implementing a resource planning process to leading the entire group.  Illumina gave me many opportunities to grow as a leader, including leading the FP&A team in Europe (for which I lived in Cambridge, UK for a year). After returning to San Diego, I joined Shaun Holt at Berkeley Lights, and eventually to my current role at Atonarp.


What drew you to join Atonarp?

Miniaturized mass spectrometry and ultrafast spectroscopy! The potential is huge.  Mass spectrometry technologies are everywhere– but are extremely expensive and have been slow to evolve.  Expensive lasers and optics have prevented ultrafast spectroscopy from going mainstream, but cost is finally meeting up with the science.  Atonarp drives past both these hurdles and will bring cheaper, faster, and more precise technologies to the market.  Also, I spent years sitting with my wife (Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry under Professor Keith Nelson) in the basements of MIT looking at ultrafast laser experiments, so my life seems to have come full circle.


What qualities does a person in your position need to possess?

·      Organized

·      Analytical

·      Open to learning new things

·      Ability to see the big picture to the details of the execution

·      Sees ambiguity as opportunity


What are your guiding principles for team management?

Make sure the right people are in the right roles and once there, let them do their job.  Offer guidance to get them on the right track, but let them take the lead.  If you find a person who is better than you at something, embrace it and allow that person to grow and take on more responsibilities.


What do you like to do in your free time?

With my free time now, I mostly spend time with my kids – going to arcades, traveling, eating out.  My wife and I are big foodies and wine lovers, so for date nights we hunt down the Michelin Star restaurants.  In the very rare times when I have free time and am alone, I try to find a local poker club.