Alumni Advice: Implement New Skills for Immediate Results

Amjed Shafique teaches Data Analysis and Decision Making in Ohio University’s Professional MBA program, currently works as a Project Manager Consultant for the Bank of Montreal, and has worked for Sychro-Start and ITT Industries, Inc. He completed his PMP certified and also holds a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois Chicago. Amjed now lives in Evanston with his caring wife and three children and enjoys playing racquetball and cricket in his free time.

After completing a Bachelor’s Degree at UIC, a few courses in the Depaul University MBA program, and a Masters of Engineering at UIC, I can still say that Dr. Werwath’s Negotiation Skills course is the best class I’ve ever taken. During the course, I was immediately able to implement skills like Best Alternative to Negotiating an Agreement (BANTA) to my professional life. The MEM program stands out because the professors understand work place environments and mentor their students to develop skills relevant to their work and careers. The challenge for students is to bring what they learn with them to the workplace, a practice that has proved imperative to my career, and the results speak for themselves.

I started my MEM degree in a Six Sigma Black Belt position and was quickly promoted to Engineering Supervisor in 2003 because of my negotiation skills. Professor Ankenman’s Quality Systems Tools class proved imperative to my Six Sigma Black Belt certification. In order to become certified, applicants must know a wide range of statistical tools and be able to effectively select the appropriate tool to use in different scenarios. Anybody can learn t-Test or F-Test or Design of Experiment, but to know how to properly apply these tools is a completely different ball game. For example, if you going to investigate a manufacturing problem, you can use 8D process, Design of Experiment, Design for Six Sigma, etc., but the best tool may be a simple ISHIKAWA diagram. Similarly, if you are given a probability problem, knowing when to use Binomial Distribution vs. Hypergeometric Distribution is key. Such specific details cannot easily be learned by reading a book or two.

Throughout my entire career I found I could continually keep implementing lessons I learned in the MEM program. The best example might be my Project Management classes with Dr. Werwath and Dr. Thompson. With this background, just two weeks of study, and one book, I was able to complete my PMP certification from the Project Management Institute on the first try while other spend months studying and taking PMP boot camps to pass the course. By the time I completed my MEM degree in 2004 with a concentration in Project Management and Process Management, I was promoted to Engineer Manager. In 2007 I became Process Excellence Manager. In 2008 I kept the same position but with added responsibilities to ensure standardized processes were established and followed in the Americas. I finally becoming a Program Manager for 2008 and 2009 and I now teach courses as an adjunct professor at Ohio University.

Although I am a Mechanical Engineer by profession, I have successfully completed projects in IT, Finance, Mergers and Acquisition, and now I am teaching Data Analysis and Decision Making to MBA students. All these activities  do not even have a single thing in common with Mechanical Engineering, but the MEM education helped me break the barriers quickly and opened new horizons. My advice for current students would be to dream big, broaden your vision, actively seek new challenges, and constantly grow out of your comfort zones.

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