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Favorite website:
NASA.gov

Favorite place you’ve visited:
Mayan Ruins, Copán, Honduras

Favorite movie:
The Right Stuff

Name Nadia Seren Villanueva, MSEM ’15
Position Fulbright Scholar
Education before Tufts B.S. Industrial & Systems Engineering, Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana
Work experience before Tufts Anvil Knitwear, Assistant Engineer & Plant Engineer

Where were you in your career and what drove your decision to go back to school?
I was assigned to cross-functional projects at Anvil Knitwear in Honduras that gave me the opportunity to be involved with all the divisions within the company. The need to go back to school became clear when, in one occasion, I was assigned to lead an energy task force. During this project I realized that I lacked of certain skills that would allow me to better align people to the mission and vision of the project. Even though I gained technical expertise through my undergraduate studies and work experience; abilities like creating and analyzing a budget, leading other engineers and people from different functions effectively and improving my business communications skills at all levels needed to be polished in order to succeed not just as an engineer but also a manager.

Why did you choose to pursue a M.S. in Engineering Management at Tufts?
I wanted a U.S. program that emphasized leadership and the Tufts MSEM has the perfect set of skills that I wanted to enhance, plus it attracts professionals from the best companies. Also, as an international student and a Fulbright Grantee, funding concerned me, but the Gordon Institute and Tufts were able to provide assistance for this great opportunity. Every day I look forward to participating in the interesting classroom discussions and talking to the faculty members.

What is your favorite part of the Tufts MSEM experience so far?
The process of creating a new product idea and turning it into a business opportunity within the New Product Development class has been my favorite part so far. We had to integrate every skill learned within the first semester, turning a dysfunctional team into a first-class team, applying project management techniques, building a pro forma developing an effective marketing plan, and even enhancing our presentations skills. This process has given me insight into business environments with people with different skills, and the best ways to lead in that scenario.

What opportunities have you had to put your classroom learning into practice?

Applying the classroom learning in the real world has been, without question, a powerful part of my MSEM experience. In the summer between the first and second year of the program, my team Practicum consulting project was with Instrumentation Laboratory (IL). Our team was tasked with developing a predictability tool that would allow IL to forecast the schedule for new product development projects more accurately based on a set of input variables. As project coordinator, I also served as the liaison between the team and the company, which provided me with additional opportunities to put my leadership skills to the test.  In the end, our team was successful in providing the sponsor with all of the deliverables they were expecting, and I was able to apply many of the tools I learned in my MSEM classes.

The Practicum also planted the seed for me to engage with IL for my Individual Leadership Project (ILP).  As an international student, I was on the lookout for a challenging ILP, and with the support of Dana Randolph, practicum sponsor and MSEM alumnus, I landed a great opportunity that allows me to contribute at a higher level.  I am now project manager for a new software release for IL products currently in the field. This requires me to collaborate with software developers in the U.S. as well as Spain, Italy, China and India. I am putting all of my MSEM learning into practice – not only the tools and techniques of new product development, project management and data analysis, but also the critical leadership skills required to work with people from different countries, cultures and disciplines.