“I had a sense that it would be the right fit for me; I was never looking for a major shift into finance, and EMTM, with its Penn Engineering and Wharton School combination, seemed to provide the right foundational core in business concepts for someone working in the technology space.”
Eric Olson, EMTM’04
VP, Informatics and eBusiness
Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics
Eric Olson, EMTM’04
Eric is well-versed in technology, with a BS in biology from MIT and several years of experience in software development. After a foray into entrepreneurship, he arrived at a juncture in his career. “I came from a family of PhD scientists and my own education had been strictly technical. I started my own software company and learned the hard way that there was a whole world of things I needed to learn if I was going to succeed in business.” Around the time that he started the program, Eric was hired by DPC, which was eventually acquired by Siemens; today he serves as VP of Informatics and eBusiness, heading up a business segment of Siemens Healthcare’s Diagnostics division. “At the time, I didn’t know how exactly EMTM was going to shape my trajectory, but after I left the program it was clear that I approached my career development very differently.”
In his search to fill what he perceived as gaps in his training, Eric considered both traditional MBA programs and technology-oriented programs. “Even though today what I do is 95 percent business oriented, I knew my work would always be rooted in technology. My passion is for developing great products for customers and I wanted to be learning alongside people driven by a similar passion.” In Penn’s EMTM, Eric found a degree that would not only allow him to keep his focus on technology, but it would also be a greater differentiator for him in the job market. He also liked that the program’s format would allow him to continue to work full time. His new employer, recognizing the program’s value, offered him both a more flexible schedule and financial sponsorship.
At EMTM, Eric developed close relationships with his professors and fellow students, which he continues to nurture today. He learned more about his intuitive leadership style from the leadership curriculum, and about working through professional conflicts through classroom teamwork. He was also able to participate in Global Immersion Trips to Germany, Hong Kong and Shanghai, which were eye-opening experiences in global business issues.
EMTM’s core classes in finance, accounting and marketing gave Eric the precise business foundation he was looking for. “These are skills that are just expected of someone who’s going to be considered for a position such as global marketing director, but they are not things you will learn in corporate training.”
Classes in private equity and venture funding appealed to Eric’s entrepreneurial impulses, while technology electives in product development and R&D management were useful in helping him formulate technology ideas into full-fledged products. His favorite classes, Decision Models and Technology Entrepreneurship, blended technology and analytics with skills to solve business problems. “These are tools that give you a framework to choose whether to expand your business into a certain country or whether to focus on high-end or low-end products. You learn how to lay out the alternatives and evaluate them to make the strongest decisions.”
Perhaps the biggest career change came when, shortly after graduation, Eric developed a business plan for a new informatics product which he presented to his management, ultimately landing him a promotion to manager and setting him on track for business leadership roles in the company. He was later promoted to director and then senior director of informatics in global marketing. In 2008, he was promoted again to his current position as VP. “At EMTM, I gained an understanding of how individual efforts come together to achieve a company’s strategic objectives. I saw my opportunity and made the leap.”