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Andy Sutherland, MSEM '13

Sr. Manager of Product Management
Amazon

Undergraduate University: University of Massachusetts Lowell
Degree and Major: B.A. in Sound Recording Technology
Work Experience before Tufts: Global Strategy Project Manager, Bose Corporation

Where were you in your career and what drove your decision to go back to school?

I had been working in a highly technical organization for almost five years before I knew I wanted to go back to school. There came a point where I understood that in order to excel, to affect the most change in my organization and company, I needed to learn new skills that I couldn’t obtain on the job. I also realized that I had spent so long embedded in the culture and practices of the same organization that I needed some outside perspective. I wanted to bring back fresh ideas and change the way that I approached complex problems. I also felt my career trajectory options diminishing the further I pushed into the organization – having the skills and experience of an advanced degree were something I felt I needed to move forward, not just for my career but for my own personal growth.

Choosing to go back to school was not easy for me. Adding the work on top of an already busy full time job and my family was a choice I didn’t make lightly. But it has been totally worth it, enriching my career and my life more than I thought it would.

Was there a professor or module that impacted you and why?

The Learning to Lead and Humanistic Perspectives on Leadership modules were a complete surprise to me. I learned so much about myself in these two courses. I’m not sure if ethics, psychology, literature, poetry and film analysis are part of every technical masters program, but for me these classes became just as important as the engineering course work we were completing. These classes challenged our assumptions about working in the engineering field and forced us to look inward as we developed our leadership skills. No other courses have had such a deep impact on my growth as a leader at work.

It’s clear that all our professors cared deeply about our progress and our development. I count many of them as real mentors and hope to keep in touch for advice and direction in my career.

How did Tufts MSEM program prepare you for a career change?

I recently accepted (January 2014) a new role as a Senior Customer Experience Product Manager at Amazon. My primary responsibility will be leading the development and maturity of self-service functionality on amazon.com. I’m so excited for this new opportunity, and I credit much of what I learned at Tufts Gordon Institute for setting me up for success in the interview process and what I’m about to tackle. The spirit of innovation and invention at Amazon is palpable. I’m really looking forward to jumping in and experiencing the change.

Since this Q&A was published, Andy was promoted to Senior Manager of Product Management at Amazon and is leading the team on innovating the in-store purchase experience at Amazon Books.

Favorite blog:
Gizmodo.com

Favorite movie:
Blade Runner

Best technical product you’ve worked on:
Bose Lifestyle Home Entertainment Systems