Alum Spotlight: Nykky McCarley-Cameron

dg140225-0039-editNycletha “Nykky” McCarley-Cameron, an alum of the MEM program, possesses a diverse set of skills and interests that have shaped her career path over the years.  Originally from Gary, Indiana, Nykky now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she works as Senior Quality Engineer at Genentech, a biotechnology company, and is also a career coach at Future State Consultancy. Genentech’s passion, integrity, and dedication to driving innovative medical therapeutics are key to her love of the work she does.  Outside of her busy work schedule, she also loves to learn new languages, teach dance fitness, and eat Thai food! Nykky credits Northwestern’s MEM program with helping her grow professionally.  She discussed her MEM experience with us for our December alumnus spotlight feature.

What made you decide to pursue an MEM degree?

I was ready for the challenge of leading others in achieving the organization’s objectives.  Recognizing an advanced degree would help prepare me for upcoming roles, I found myself choosing between a traditional MBA or MEM.  Since I loved my work in technology at a pharma company, I thought the MEM degree would be a better fit.

What was the best part about MEM?

The thoroughness of the course material was the best part.  When you graduate with an MEM degree, you’ve been exposed to layers and layers of content, and emerge with a profound, nuanced understanding of the concepts taught.  MEM offers a solid foundation for business know-how and how-to that is immediately applicable and transferrable to work responsibilities.

 How has your MEM experience contributed to your career path?

Just after a year of graduating with the MEM degree, I successfully applied and interviewed for an engineering management position at a Chicago-based healthcare company.  When the offer was extended, the hiring manager indicated that my edge over the competition was the MEM degree.  This role then led to numerous opportunities of greater responsibility and influence, which have taken me across industries, across countries, and across for-profit and non-profit sectors.

 You also have a background in career coaching. Has that impacted your perspective and/or the way that you work? 

Actually, my interest in career coaching evolved from taking MEM’s Organizational Development class, then taught by Professor Gail Berger.  Some tenets of the class espoused situational leadership and adapting communications to the receiver.  This involves active listening, and while it’s great for leadership, it is also a key coaching skill.   On the flip side, career coaching involves helping a client establish clarity around a desired future state, develop a strategy to achieve the future state, and execute the strategy.  I tend to think of my work in these three stages; it seems I have gained a reputation for having an incredibly organized mind and for being especially driven!

 Any advice for future students:

I’ve observed over the years how the MEM program and degree has gained momentum, in recognition and prestige.  I love this!  Although the MBA vs MEM debate will probably always be there for technologists, I would advise future students to never doubt the value that having an MEM degree will bring because truly, the education inspires, grows, and bolsters achievements yet to come!

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