Alumni Profiles

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Catherine MitchellFavorite book:
The Next Level

Favorite place you’ve visited:
Stockholm, Sweden

Company you admire:
IBM (I worked there for 6 years before joining EMC)

Name Catherine Mitchell, MSEM ’12
Position President, JAC Associates, LLC
Education before Tufts B.S., Computer Science, Vanderbilt University, 1984
Work experience Senior Director, Engineering Operations, EMC Corporation

On being the oldest student in the classroom
“I enrolled in the program when I was 48, with more than 26 years of work experience. I thought it was a great time to gain some new skills and formalize some skills I had already developed on-the-job throughout my career. There were plenty of opportunities to mentor younger classmates in areas in which I had more experience and equal opportunities for me to learn from classmates who were more advanced in other areas.”

Why did you choose to attend TGI’s MSEM program?
“The curriculum was well suited to my needs. I have an engineering background and I work for a company that values technical and engineering skills. Additionally, I needed a refresh on basic finance and operations skills. At the time I enrolled, I held a line management position, with aspirations of moving up. I knew the leadership skills I could obtain through the MSEM program would be the key to advancement.”

On career advancement
“While I was attending the MSEM program, my vice president left our organization and my president asked me to temporarily step in as acting VP. I believe I received this opportunity because of my aspirations and the skills I was acquiring through the program. When I graduated, the president asked me to officially join his staff as the head of Engineering Technology Services.”

How has the program made you more marketable?
“The leadership skills I developed through the program, and the knowledge and experience I gained from the summer team practicum, the individual leadership project, and my professors and fellow students gave me a broader set of skills to leverage. Completing the MSEM program made me much more marketable and equipped me to move up a level in my career. I now feel I can step outside of a pure engineering role into a more business-oriented, executive level role.”

What was the highlight of your experience in the MSEM program?
“The leadership classes were definitely the highlight for me. These classes taught us how to manage and lead, and provided opportunities for practical application, which included videotaping our presentations and feedback on performance. These classes were like intensive coaching on how to become a leader at the top level. The class about influencing without authority was very beneficial, because organizations are becoming much more collaborative with mesh instead of matrixed organizational relationships. Good leadership is about more than leading the people who report to you.”

What were your classmates like?
“My classmates were a diverse mix of individuals from different industries and backgrounds and with varying experience levels. All of them were committed to learning and to advancing their careers. Because I am a working mom of two teenagers, I had additional demands on my time. However, this did not prevent me from forming good friendships and professional relationships with my classmates. I know I can call on any of them for advice and counsel and likewise offer the same.”