Juxtaposing science, art, and technology

Mariano Rodriguez is a science planner, where he designs master plans for pharmaceutical, vaccine, and industrial companies and government institutions.


Mariano Rodriguez, principal, registered architect, ISPE member, exp Global Inc., Maitland, Fla.Who: Mariano Rodriguez

What: Principal, Registered Architect, ISPE Member

Where: exp Global Inc., Maitland, Fla.

About: Rodriguez is a science planner, where he designs master plans for pharmaceutical, vaccine, and industrial companies and government institutions. As corporate strategist, he develops exp’s global strategy for science and technology. His job takes him around the world frequently.

Q. Describe your job in one or two sentences. What do you do on a regular (daily, weekly, monthly) basis? In what area (building type) do you do the most work?

A. As science planner, I design master plans for pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and industrial companies and government institutions. My role often involves the programming and planning of R+D laboratories, manufacturing facilities, and other facility types. On occasion, I act as project principal or project manager for some of these, traveling to where the projects are located—in recent years primarily China. As corporate strategist, I also develop our global strategy and make recommendations on alliances, mergers, and acquisitions.

Q: Your job description makes you sound like a hostage negotiator. What makes you good at this?

A. What your description lacks in diplomacy, it more than makes up for in accuracy. The global science and technology industry is diverse, complex, and highly regulated. My role is most often to align the expectations of widely divergent groups and individuals, while proposing solutions that are frequently unorthodox and “out of their comfort zone.”  I don’t know that I can respond to being “good” at this, but I can certainly say that I enjoy it—and that the clients bring me back.

Q: When did you become a “grown-up”?

A. On July 13, 1961. At the age of 12, I left my family, my home, and my native Cuba, and boarded a plane for Miami. A month later, I was in Clarksville, Ind., living with a foster family for the next two years. 

Q: What’s surprises you the most when you are working in pharmaceutical or high-tech facilities?

A. A welcome surprise is a truly open mind to new ideas, and I am happy to report that it’s a surprise that is happening with greater frequency.  

Q: What tips would you give to a junior member of your team who wants to become an engineer or architect, or work in high-tech buildings?

A.    Three things:

  1. Embrace the challenge: This is not for the faint of heart.
  2. Keep learning and share your knowledge. Experts have a responsibility to teach.
  3. Operate from vision, not from fear.

Q: What aspect of science intrigues you most?

A. The process; the journey.

Q: What’s the key to balancing your professional and personal life?

A.  “It comes in Pints?”—Pippin (Peregrin Took), J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The line is a quote from Pippin, a hobbit in Tolkien’s classic. Four hobbits have fled the “Shire” in an effort to avoid the evil “wraiths” sent by the Dark Lord Sauron to find the ring of power. They stop at the Prancing Pony, a Pup and Inn in the very seedy town of Bree. The hobbits are all in fear of their surroundings…except for Pippin, who is taking the whole thing as a great adventure. Pippin delivers the line when a companion appears with a “pint” of beer.  

Q: What or who led you down your career path? Did you have a mentor?

A. My career path was influenced by many people, events, and ideas. One might say that it was an eclectic collection of forces. But if I were to point to a single force, it’s my education. I studied architecture at the University of Miami, Fla. At that time, it was not the prestigious and noteworthy place it is today. It was seeking accreditation and was a department of the MacArthur School of Engineering, barely occupying the fourth floor of that building. I was the fortunate recipient of the efforts of several great individuals who, either by coincidence or design, appeared at just the right moment to affect my thinking.

Salient among them are Bob Anderson and Tom Spain. They embodied as different philosophies as can be produced within the field of architectural problem solving. But embracing the contrast between them became the cornerstone of my career. Later I was fortunate to be involved in complex projects with teams that included world-class architects, engineers, scientists, and specialty consultants. Most importantly, I became a part of teams that dealt with cutting-edge ideas, and the search for strategic solutions at the cutting edge of technology and social change.

Q: If you could speak to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give?

A. Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.

Q: How would your coworkers or clients describe you?

A. Sardonic, smart, extrovert, energetic, arrogant, fair.

Q: What life adventure is still on your list?

A. Publishing the book that I have been writing for five years.

Q: What one word best describes you?

A. Juxtaposition.

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