M.E.M. Alumni Career Profiles
These profiles are examples of the types of careers M.E.M. graduates can pursue and have been authored by M.E.M. alumni and members of the M.E.M. Corporate Collaboration Council.
Production Team Leader, Materials
Eleanor Alexander, MEM'05
GE Healthcare provides solutions in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, disease research, drug discovery and manufacturing technologies. These services help clinicians around the world re-imagine new ways to predict, diagnose, inform and treat disease, so their patients can live their lives to the fullest. The healthcare division of GE is headquartered in the UK and it employs over 46,000 people located throughout the world.
After finishing my M.E.M., I joined GE Healthcare as a member of the Operations Management Leadership Program (OMLP). Through this rotational program, I had four six-month roles in the Supply Chain division. I started as a Materials Logistics Specialist in Milwaukee, WI, managing inventory for Magnetic Resonance Imaging products where I worked with suppliers and the operations teams to ensure the right parts were in the right place at the right time. In my second rotation, I drove process improvement projects for the installation of our diagnostic imaging products. Next I worked in Uppsala, Sweden, with our Life Sciences division, on an IT/Supply chain project that provided visibility to division sales, inventory and orders. Finally I moved back to Milwaukee to manage the employees and production for a circuit board manufacturing line. After completion of OMLP I took a role leading a production team where I am responsible for all material movement in, out, and throughout our factory. I manage two shifts of union employees and work closely with the operations and materials teams to ensure our plant meets customer orders.
The M.E.M. was the perfect stepping stone, for me, between studying engineering and working in project and people managing roles. The skills I gained at Thayer – teamwork, presentation skills, operations, finance, and a general business background – prepared me for my roles at GE. While still in school, I knew I wanted to use my engineering background in a manufacturing environment to build products that could help people. Now I work at a plant that makes x-ray tubes for CT scanners that help diagnose patients all over the world.
Associate - Management Consulting
Mayank Agrawal, MEM'07
Management consulting firms help organizations and businesses overcome a variety of challenges ranging from improving performance to achieving long-term strategic goals. A management consultant is responsible for conducting thorough analysis of existing business problems and recommending the best possible solution for a particular business issue. Over a short period of time, an associate usually gains experience across a wide range of industries, gets exposed to several domestic and international markets, and works in a diverse and multi-cultural team environment.
Some of my recent projects have included:
- Assessment of a potential acquisition candidate for a large Middle-East based shipping and logistics company
- A comprehensive organizational restructuring for a major private jet carrier in the U.S.
- Outlining corporate strategy for a leading pharmaceutical company in Europe
- Improving profitability for a British media and publishing firm
- Developing a marketing plan for a new product entry in Latin America
So, how does an M.E.M. degree prepare you to pursue a management/strategy consulting career? Over the course of an M.E.M. degree, the student develops a logical mindset towards problem solving through the technical training, gains a multi-cultural and diverse experience working in a team-based environment and expands her/his theoretical understanding of business issues through the management coursework. Overall, the skill-set gained through the M.E.M. degree helped me transition smoothly into this unique career.
Technical Analyst, Financial Services
Christopher Graves, MEM'05
Goldman, Sachs & Co., Technology Division
Thousands strong, the Technology Division is one of Goldman's largest, dedicated to building and supporting the applications and infrastructure that drive the firm's lines of business globally. Within it, I work for a team focused on the application of operations management principles to increase the service delivery, regularity and efficiency of Goldman's technical support departments.
My first major project at the firm was to assist in standardizing the support of our data center infrastructure and to deploy a new organization, split between New York and Bangalore, which provides 24-hour coverage for our global offices. As the firm continues to consolidate its technical support systems into this single logical factory, it looks to my department to deliver both line automation improvements and to develop service management systems. Currently, I work with both operational personnel and teams of application developers to design and produce central inventory, sourcing, fulfillment and capacity management systems for the new organization.
The structure of the M.E.M. program's capstone team project prepared me for a similar working environment at Goldman, working with teams of diverse areas of expertise to swiftly take a product from design to completion. While courses like Corporate Finance provided me with a background of the firm's industry, my role within the Technology Division requires me to build upon the concepts introduced in Operations Management, Supply Chain Management and Optimization Methods.
Jason Gracilieri, MEM'00
Entrepreneurs take ideas and turn them into reality. It's generally pretty hard work.
In the early stages of a new venture, entrepreneurs must be prepared to get very hands-on with every aspect of the business: product development, marketing, sales, finance, legal, technology, and human resources. However, the most important part of their job is to prioritize efforts and keep the organization focused on building a product or service that will achieve traction in the market.
Once a product/service has found some validation in the marketplace, the focus turns to growth. As time and resources permit, entrepreneurs look for talented people to add to the team to take over functions on an as-needed basis. The ideal entrepreneur knows enough about each discipline to continually ask tough questions of the new team members and managers. While the organization is being built-out, the entrepreneur continues to spend their time focused on the most critical issues and challenges facing the business – which can arise within any of the disciplines above – and gets hands-on wherever help is most needed. Their time is split between hiring, strategizing, hands-on problem-solving, and again, prioritizing what few resources the organization has at its disposal.
The goal is to create an organization that meets a real need, and can do so on a continuing, profitable basis. If an entrepreneur is lucky enough to get to this stage (and there is definitely a bit of luck involved), their time is now focused on providing direction to the organization, and focusing on the major operational and strategic issues that it faces.
Entrepreneurship is demanding. Entrepreneurs must be confident in tackling problems they have never seen, sometimes in topic areas they know nothing about. They must be quick, resourceful learners, and sharp, critical thinkers. They must be passionate, innovative, resilient, and focused. They must be excited about creating an organization, not just a product or service, and they must have faith in themselves and what they're building.
But if you're up for it, it's some of the most fun you can have.
Vice President, Supply Chain - Consumer Packaged Goods
Brett Buatti, MEM'94
Campbell Soup Company, Sauces & Beverages Division
A business unit Supply Chain VP at Campbell is essentially a functional liaison to the business unit leadership team. Each business unit in Campbell USA has a Senior Leadership Team, comprised of a General Manager for the business unit, and a group of leaders for each function: Marketing, Sales, Finance, R&D, Supply Chain, HR and Legal. As the Supply Chain functional lead, it is the responsibility of the VP to ensure all technical functions outside of R&D (including Engineering, Manufacturing, Logistics & Transportation, Procurement, Reliability and Quality) are working in concert to enable the business to meet all of its planned commitments in net sales, market share, gross margin and earnings. Providing coordination between plant manufacturing activities in "the field", and centralized activities at corporate headquarters, is also part of this broad, cross-functional accountability.
The technical functions have 4 primary areas of responsibility that must be managed to make the business successful in meeting its plans:
- Total Delivered Cost Management
- New Product Commercialization
- Strategic Capacity Development
- Operating Performance Management (service, inventory, quality, food safety, and sustainability)
The goal in managing Total Delivered Cost is to maintain or lower it year after year, such that profit margins can be held at desired levels in spite of raw material and other cost inflation. In a year where cost reductions exceed inflation, key funds can also be freed up to be put toward additional marketing or product innovation activities to increase sales volume.
New Product Commercialization is the complicated process of bringing new ideas from concept to reality, and ultimately figuring out how to manufacture and deliver products to customers. It is key to growing sales and maintaining or increasing market share.
Proper Strategic Capacity Development ensures the company has the right type and amount of capacity to support current and future business needs.
And finally, carefully managing Operating Performance is crucial to maintaining or increasing sales and earnings. Missing the mark on quality, service, or any other critical success factor endangers short-term customer relationships, long-term brand identity and consumer loyalty, and possibly even a company's entire reputation in the case of food safety or sustainability issues. However, if properly managed, outstanding performance on critical success factors has the potential to delight customers and consumers, and may even provide a sustainable competitive advantage.
Managing this broad, cross-functional activity requires a diverse skill set. Key competencies include:
- Strong communication skills
- The ability to "bring order to chaos"
- The ability to influence and manage priorities across a broad variety of stakeholders
- The capability to understand complex technical concepts
- Strong analytical and decision-making skills
- An ability to think strategically
- A holistic understanding of business
There are many potential career paths that can lead to becoming a Supply Chain VP, but the most typical routes are via manufacturing operations, engineering management, or logistics and transportation planning. Experience as a plant manager is often considered a minimum requirement.