Alum Spotlight: Sneha Aggarwal

snehaSneha Aggarwal is a recent graduate of the MEM program who completed her undergraduate degree at PEC University of Technology in Chandigarh, India, studying Electronics and Electrical Communications. Sneha now works as a senior systems engineer at Baxter Healthcare Corporation.  She encourages students to explore this parent field of engineering management explaining:

[Systems engineering] is a lesser known field and… can include various different kinds of job responsibilities including requirements management, risk management, project management and product management. Under this field, I am taking up some responsibilities in product management. MEM definitely prepared me to take up this role and it is just the beginning. Every day brings a set of new learning opportunities which need a strong foundation to build upon. Northwestern gave me that foundation.

We asked Sneha to tell us more about her MEM experience:

What made you decide to pursue an MEM degree?
I was seeking to grow in my career by gaining holistic knowledge at the intersection of engineering, design, business and management. An MBA was the first option in my mind, but I definitely didn’t want to lose touch with my technical side. A friend introduced me to the MEM degree and then I did my research about the curriculum at different schools. The MEM curriculum had the flexibility to design it according to my preferences.

 What was the best part about MEM?
MEM was not just a degree for me, it was a whole experience. It availed me the platform to explore different domains via different classes and projects to find the right one for me.

How has your MEM experience contributed to your career path?
I am given strategic responsibilities at work, which are usually given to people 6-8 years ahead of me. During the interviews, employers wondered what is an “Engineering Management” degree. But once they knew, they definitely gave me preference and I was even able to negotiate on the job roles. More than anything, I
believe this degree gave me a mental framework to approach problems in the real world.

 Was there a part of your experience you found was unique to Northwestern? What was it?
As a full-time student, working with part-time students was unique. It really helped to have all kind of industry perspectives in the case studies and class discussions. My class represented more than 15 different industries including but not limited to the automotive, oil, energy, tech, defense industries and many more.

What advice would you offer students currently in the program?
I would advise students to step out of their comfort zones and network. Get to know people genuinely, their interests, and their work. And not just for job favors! It’s invaluable how many connections you make every day and not just in formal networking events. For current students, your class is the first place to network. Your peers are going to stay in your network for a very, very long time. So, make some time to know them. Also, try to work with students in different departments (e.g. Segal institute, Kellogg, Farley, Engineering etc.) as it adds perspective and every team member ends up learning more.

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