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Keith Willett, MSEM '04

Head of Advanced Product Development
Merck Group

Undergraduate University: Fitchburg State University
Degree and Major: B.S. Computer Science


Why did you choose to pursue a M.S. in Engineering Management at Tufts?

When I applied to the program, I had recently been given leadership responsibility for an engineering team and served as the software architect. I wasn’t prepared to be a business leader. At the time I recognized that I needed further education to be successful at leading and managing. Originally, my goal was to earn a traditional MBA, but after learning about Tufts M.S in Engineering Management and reviewing the curriculum, I immediately saw the value in the program. It focused on building my skills in finance, organizational dynamics, marketing and project management to enable me to grow as an engineer and business leader. In addition to the curriculum, I also valued the cohort aspect of the program. My peer group was comprised of amazing people working all disciplines of engineering and at all levels in their careers. Many of them are still my friends, and to this day, trusted advisors for my career navigation.

How has the degree impacted your career growth?

Since earning my MSEM degree in 2004, my career has grown from engineering to engineering leader. After graduating from the MSEM program, I took on the responsibilities of multiple development teams and then migrated to a program management role, where I eventually became the team leader. From there I advanced to project management office (PMO) director, and after a series of successes had the role extended to include responsibility of software product management for twelve product lines. A few years later, I was recruited to be vice president of engineering for a subsidiary of Honeywell. During my time at Honeywell, I moved up in the organization and held several positions; my final position with Honeywell was as Systems Architecture Leader on a $15B portfolio over 49 subsidiaries. This type of movement and increase in responsibilities demonstrates the power of the MSEM degree.

Currently, I am General Manager and Engineering Director of Cisco Systems for the Ecublens, Switzerland site. In this role I am responsible for the oversight of wireless products development, daily operational ownership and EMEA customer interactions. Additionally, I sit on the Cisco International Sarl Board of Directors, which manages over $40B in holding assets for the company. I am fortunate to have had many great opportunities in my career, and I attribute my experience at Tufts University in the M.S. in Engineering Management program as key component in my career growth.

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Favorite place you’ve visited:
Abu Dhabi