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.
Director, Analytics Relationship Management
Kelly Schneiter '03, BE'03, MEM'04
BlackRock, Aladdin Business
BlackRock’s Aladdin Business truly operates at the intersection of finance and technology. Aladdin®, our unique, fully integrated enterprise investment platform, combines risk analytics with portfolio management, trading and operations tools to support a consistent, efficient and controlled investment process. BlackRock developed Aladdin to manage the firm’s own investment processes, but we were soon fielding requests from other large financial institutions for access to the system and its tools. We now provide the full Aladdin platform to more than 50 clients and risk analytics services to over 100 other firms. $13.7 trillion in assets are managed on the Aladdin platform (as of 12/31/2012).
Following the completion of my M.E.M., I joined BlackRock as an analyst in the Portfolio Analytics Group. As an analyst, I was responsible for delivering the Green Package® — our comprehensive suite of portfolio and security-level risk reports — to one of our large Aladdin clients on a daily basis. As I became more experienced, I started working with our clients to design and implement various custom risk analyses to help them better value their holdings, manage their portfolios and understand their risk exposures. When the financial crisis hit in 2007-08, BlackRock was called upon to advise several institutions, ranging from governments and central banks to private companies, regarding the financial challenges they faced. I was heavily involved in several of these assignments, utilizing Aladdin’s financial models to measure and analyze the complex and unique risks in our clients’ portfolios in support of the tailored advice we provided to each institution. I now lead a team that is responsible for managing the analytics-related aspects of BlackRock’s relationships with several of our Aladdin clients. We are focused on helping our clients leverage Aladdin’s models, analytics and portfolio management tools in the most effective way possible to support and enhance their investment processes.
The M.E.M. program, and my engineering education at Thayer in general, prepared me incredibly well — even better than I anticipated at the time — for a career in analytics at BlackRock. Much like any other engineering venture, financial technology and analytics are heavily dependent on excellent data, creative design and robust processes. Furthermore, my role requires a diverse set of skills — from understanding how financial models and the processes by which literally millions of analytics are computed on a daily basis work, to the ability to explain complex concepts to clients and effectively manage people — all of which I started to develop in the M.E.M. program.
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.