By Christine Schyvinck, Executive VP of Global Marketing and Sales, Shure, Inc.
Are you being passed over for promotions? Still waiting for your big chance to get into management? Wondering why your career isn’t advancing the way you’d like it to? There’s only one person who can answer these questions and make these things happen – YOU!
I learned this lesson early in my career. After about 5-6 years after graduating from UW-Madison with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I was ready to head into management. And yet, jobs seemed to pass me by. So, I had a discussion with my boss one day, and imagine my surprise when he told me he had no idea I wanted to get into management.
That’s when I learned that the boss isn’t a mind reader and that the best advocate you have in developing a career is yourself. At that point, I started discussing a master’s program with my boss and our HR group. I knew I didn’t want to go strictly toward an MBA, since I also wanted to augment my technical skills, especially in the area of Supply Chain. Someone in our HR group had heard about a new program at one of the local universities that combined MBA-type courses with engineering classes. It sounded very intriguing to me and I was pretty close to signing up. Then, my boss asked me why I hadn’t explored Northwestern – a great school and right in the backyard, since our company’s headquarters were based in Evanston back then.
So, I certainly did explore Northwestern, and I was very happy to learn that not only did Northwestern have such a program, but it had already been in existence for over 17 years at that time, as opposed to being “new.” I couldn’t sign up fast enough. While I enjoyed the curriculum, and did end up pursuing a track of Supply Chain courses to specialize in, I believe the interaction with the staff and other students was equally as enriching as the coursework. Many people were in the same boat as me – they had graduated about 5-10 years prior with a technical degree, and were now looking to get on to the management track. I really enjoyed working on projects with these people and learning about their experiences at other companies.
I am happy to say that I did indeed land my first management role while working on the MEM degree. I believe this was a combination of advancing my schooling and making my career goals known – taking more control of my own path. Since then, I’ve been a member of my company’s Executive Staff since 1997, holding various VP positions along the way. Also, for about the last 6 years, I have been a member of the Industrial Advisory Board for the Mechanical Engineering Department at UW-Madison. It’s been a great experience to get back to my undergrad alma mater, and interact with the Division Chair, staff, and students. I’ve learned a lot from that board which I hope I can bring to the MEM board starting this fall. I hope to bring the perspective of someone who has moved all the way from engineering into the sales and marketing arena. Finally, I think our board can help spread the word on how the MEM degree can facilitate the shaping of one’s career.