Alumni Spotlight

Mike Sheehan, CEO, Milis Bio

12 Nov
Mike Sheehan

Mike Sheehan is the CEO and co-founder of Milis Bio, a company which designs protein based low-calorie flavourings. Milis Bio was recently named Bank of Ireland/IGNITE Business of the Year for 2018. Mike's background in Neuroscience, studying the link between the brain and nutrition, inspired him to develop a healthy sugar substitute. After seeing a gap in the market, Milis Bio was born and the company now intend to apply the same method of protein design to other food flavourings. We chat to Mike about his college days, the Clubs and Socs Ball and sitting in on Philosophy lectures!

Course/subjects studied in University College Cork and year of graduation
BSc. Neuroscience 2016, with a few extra modules in philosophy.

Best memory of UCC
Very tough question! It would be something to do with the Biology Society, maybe the Clubs and Socs Ball in 2016. I founded the Society with some close friends in 2013 and was auditor for two years, it was an incredible journey to work on it with this group and see it grow into maturity. With my time at the university coming to a close, I could see around the time of the C&S Ball that we had made something that could endure at UCC. Biosoc can continue to bring students together, contribute to campus life, and create memories for students long after the original core group has left. Something I hope the whole team is proud of.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
To state the obvious, UCC is a top tier university. My degree gave me the technical skills, confidence and credibility to unabashedly address anyone about Milis Bio's ambitions to significantly disrupt a multi-billion dollar global industry. On top of this I cannot overstate the value of my experience in UCC student organisations. I was a member of nearly a dozen clubs, societies and campaign teams over my four years, and I have no doubt that these experiences gave me the tools to do what I do today.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
Seek out less obvious opportunities, get outside your comfort zone. Your degree is only the foundation of a great experience in UCC, you can get involved in incredible student organisations as I mentioned, plus there are countless other opportunities that I am kicking myself to have missed. You can pursue your passions through study or work abroad or in Ireland in all manner of positions, no matter your discipline, with more grants, stipends and other support than you might expect. You can do so much more during your time at college than you would realise by looking at the obvious options alone.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
Strange answer, but possibly the lecturers that I had in Philosophy. I took exams in two Philosophy classes and sat in on a few others over the course of my degree, purely because I'm a big nerd. While my Neuroscience degree gave me a fantastic technical basis to work in Biotech I think the Philosophy classes developed skills in critical assessment, problem solving, creative thinking and communication that are indispensable to my work today.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I may have touched on this above, ha ha...

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