“Technical people have more respect for you if you have the same type of background or technical understanding as they do. But at the same time, you have to be able to speak from a management standpoint and understand the company's wider context of asset strategy and product lines.”


Lakisha Powell Robinson, EMTM’06
Risk Management Partner
AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals
Wilmington, DE

Lakisha Powell Robinson, EMTM’06

Advancing in Management / Staying Current
with Advancing Technologies

A chemical engineering degree from MIT and a deep interest in the pharmaceutical industry prepared Lakisha for her early years at DuPont and Schering-Plough, where she worked on different sides of the business. "I progressed from a traditional engineering role into project management, R&D and later, on the corporate side in Quality Assurance." While at DuPont, Lakisha talked about her future plans with a mentor and decided that she would eventually like to have a managerial role within a technical area. "Technical people have more respect for you if you have the same type of background or technical understanding as they do. But at the same time, you have to be able to speak from a management standpoint and understand the company's wider context of asset strategy and product lines. To do this, my mentor and I agreed that I was going to need an advanced degree."

Why EMTM?

Seeking a stronger business foundation that would apply specifically to her chosen field, Lakisha researched hybrid management/technology degrees in the tri-state area. "A regular MBA seemed too limited and I ruled out online programs because I didn't want to miss the opportunity to network." Then, she came across EMTM and visited the campus, where she discovered a top-notch faculty, a diverse group of students and a working support structure for women in engineering. "There's a team environment in this program that really allows you to rejuvenate your intellectual soul," she says.

With financial sponsorship from DuPont she entered the program in 2001. Shortly after starting, however, changes in the pharmaceutical industry took Lakisha first to Schering Plough and then to AstraZeneca. Responding to her evolving work responsibilities made it necessary to alternate from full to part-time study, and she found that the program administrators' flexibility was unparalleled. "They were really willing to work with my needs, which is something I don't think I would have found in another school."

Career Impact

At EMTM, Lakisha developed her management skills while learning more about current trends in the pharmaceutical industry. In her Leadership and Negotiations classes, she investigated her priorities and personal leadership style, which she was able to put into practice during team projects. "I learned how to identify my key customers and understand their needs while turning it into a win-win situation. What you get in these classes is a methodical manner for approaching management." On a Global Immersion trip she had the opportunity to visit a modular pharmaceutical facility in Shanghai and observe the successes of the industry in China.

Lakisha feels that the program's rewards stretch well beyond the time spent in the classroom. "You have the teamwork and the class lessons but in the long term you also have the benefit of an amazing network and the ability to keep yourself current with ongoing advances in technology."

In her own career the changes have been tangible: In 2003, Lakisha took a senior management position in the Quality Assurance division of AstraZeneca. Today she manages a group of five engineers overseeing validation compliance for oral-solid dosage packaging and manufacturing processes and facility infrastructure. "I got this job in part because they knew I was earning my EMTM degree, which has given me the qualifications and experience I need to be successful."