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Name Andrea Tower, MSEM ’10
Position Vice President of Engineering, QA/RA, Keystone Dental Inc.
Education before Tufts B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Work experience before Tufts Mechanical Engineer, DUSA Pharmaceuticals; Product Development Engineer, Abbott Laboratories

MS or MBA?
My undergraduate degree was in mechanical engineering and I had been working for about ten years in various product development roles primarily in research & development environments. I found that I would work and progress to a certain level at a company and then quickly plateau. I wanted to be able to contribute more and I recognized that I lacked certain skills to help me progress in my career. At the time I looked into MBA as well as other M.S. programs, however when I attended an info session for Tufts MSEM program, what struck me was the unique focus on leadership. How do you reach cross-functionally? How do you get things done in your organization? These were skills that I developed in the MSEM program.

Applying classroom learning to your job
Yes – and it starts immediately. Starting in the first semester in the leadership class you begin to know yourself. This includes understanding your strengths and weaknesses and how others – including your boss – perceive you in the workplace. From this process I started to see things differently in my organization and I was able to have conversations with my boss about future goals and growth opportunities. In addition to the leadership learning I took a lot away from the product development and project management classes. I learned how to run product development efforts as well as how to make data-driven decisions and effectively communicate cross functionally the status of projects and engineering activities. I gained the confidence to effect the changes I wanted to make in my role. The degree has helped me progress from an individual contributor into a leadership role and to top it off I was promoted twice since completing the program.

Juggling school, work and home
To top it off I also had a newborn while in the program! It was definitely a challenge but I learned time management very quickly and utilized all the minutes of the day. The program is catered towards working professionals so all of the logistics are taken care of and I also learned to make group meetings for projects efficient by utilizing a variety of online tools in addition to meeting in person.

What’s next?
Before I entered the program I didn’t have a clear vision of where I wanted to take my career but that completely changed after the Tufts program. I aspire to grow into a top level executive leadership role within my company and I feel confident that the M.S. in Engineering Management gave me the skill set and knowledge to perform successfully in that type of role. A lot of what I do now is leading cross-functional product development teams through product commercialization and building a product pipeline that exceeds the expectations of our customers. From the Business Strategy and Technology Strategy and Innovation classes I now understand the need to think big, how to assess the needs of a market, and build an effective product strategy.