What was the nature of your job before you decided to join the EMTM program?
At the time I joined the EMTM program, I was a programmer/analyst at Exxon Research & Engineering Company developing and supporting corporate human resource and executive compensation software.
What made you decide to go back to graduate school?
Although I was very happy in my Â¡Â§techieÂ¡Â¨ position as a computer programmer (or software engineer as we are now called), I wanted to take on more project management responsibilities which would require interfacing with business management and customers. That led me to seek a program that would broaden my knowledge of business and enable me to feel comfortable working within other business sectors at Exxon. I felt that a graduate program that combined technology and business management would give me the tools I need to stay ahead of the curve and remain marketable in a fast growing, changing environment.
The EMTM program at Stevens by its very name was appealing to me, because Â¡Â§technology managementÂ¡Â¨ alone suggested I could follow the route of a technical manager. Stevens Institute of Technology was and is a much respected institution, and the convenience of weekday afternoon/evening classes offered near my work was very appealing to me as a working professional.
Why the EMTM Program at Stevens?
Knowing I wanted to maintain a technical slant in my career, I was seeking an equivalent education that wasn't entirely an MBA. The EMTM program by its very name was appealing to me, because "technology management" alone suggested I could follow the route of a technical manager. I never cared to be a middle manager, but rather someone on the ground doing the work that would be respected as a day to day leader.
Stevens Institute of Technology has always been a much respected institution, and the convenience of the EMTM night-school program for working professionals was very appealing to me at the time. I was happy I'd be able to focus on the curriculum rather than the commute in my otherwise busy professional schedule.
Upon reviewing the course syllabus I was happy to see a mix of managerial courses targeted at all the important areas of participating in a technical team environment. Anyone can be a software developer, but the role of a true Information Technology professional has expanded to include several other non-technical characteristics in order to provide today's customers with better service required for any organization to stay in business amidst heavy competition. IT professionals need to become business partners with their clients, be effective managers with skills in sales, marketing, and accounting as well as organizational confidence to talk to anybody on the org chart and have presentation skills to get your points across succinctly. The EMTM program promised this, and delivered. (A great unpublished benefit of the program was all the presentations we were forced to do and how much practice we had at reading audiences and adjusting material and patter accordingly.)
What value did you derive from the program?
The program provided me with a broad range of tools, skills and techniques that brought immediate benefit to my job and various organizational initiatives going on at the time. I enjoyed a new respect from my managers and coworkers, which led to an even stronger and more satisfying role during my subsequent Exxon years, resulting in promotion and expansion of duties, including a project management position and much more client facing responsibilities. Those skills have remained with me and enabled me to bring value to my subsequent employers as well as my personal entrepreneurial endeavors. Even today, for example, I still get praise for my ability to sell my ideas in presentations and ability to speak to large groups for which I willingly acknowledge the analysis and feedback of presentations we all gave during EMTM across the entire program.
Perhaps what I have valued most has been the insights learned from my interpersonal experiences in the program, which forced me to team up and interact with other working professionals with very different interpersonal styles. Those insights left me with a valuable set of interpersonal skills that have served me well throughout my career to the point where I virtually take them for granted today.
What changes have occurred in your professional life since taking the program?
A few years after the program, I left my 9-year Exxon career to pursue other interests in New England. My degree helped me land a position at Fidelity as a Technical Business Analyst working in a team environment fleshing out outsourcing alternatives for HR/Payroll systems we were developing. I then did a 180-degree career change to work for a non-profit company starting as a programmer, and advancing to an assistant director of IT, with responsibilities for software development, customer training, recruiting, and project management.
Currently, I am a senior software engineer in the financial industry building OMS (order management systems) software for Charles River Development in Burlington, MA. Outside of my day job, I also moonlight doing graphic design and magazine/book layout. I recently started an online merchandise (bumper sticker) business, and run a 300-person town softball league. Each of these initiatives was fueled, in part, by the business background, entrepreneurial confidence, multitasking efficiency, and client facing effectiveness I obtained at EMTM.
I do believe my success in each area has been due primarily to the breadth of technical, managerial, and interpersonal effectiveness IÂ¡Â¦ve brought to my workgroups, thanks to the lessons learned in the Stevens program.