“When you look at most organizations, the people who have risen to the top are those with advanced degrees. An advanced education from an institution like Penn shortens the timeframe; you learn in two years what you might have to learn in many more years on the job.”
Maren Cattonar, EMTM’08
Senior Industrial Liaison Officer Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Maren Cattonar, EMTM’08
No stranger to the overlap of technology and management, Maren had long fused the two disciplines, beginning with dual bachelors degrees from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in industrial and management engineering and economics and a professional development program that landed her a job in systems engineering and business development at Northrop Grumman right out of school. Maren had advanced to a program manager position when she began EMTM with the sponsorship of her employer. At the time, additional education seemed like a necessary step in maintaining the forward momentum of her career. “When you look at most organizations, the people who have risen to the top are those with advanced degrees. An advanced education from an institution like Penn shortens the timeframe; you learn in two years what you might have to learn in many more years on the job.”
Maren explored the possibility of enrolling in an MBA or systems engineering program before encountering EMTM through a Google search. “I could see that this was really the best fit for me and my career goals.” The flexible schedule, the drivable distance from her home in Baltimore and the ability to have summers free were all winning features. After visiting campus for a weekend and seeing the small classes, vigorous debate and accessibility of the professors, she felt confident that the program would meet her needs.
In the EMTM coursework, Maren developed a multitude of skills and strategies that enhanced her capabilities. In Negotiations, she learned a framework for identifying opportunities, analyzing arguments and producing win-win deals. Legal Aspects of Entrepreneurship offered critical lessons in legal issues confronting start-up and emerging growth companies, including intellectual property ownership, which are important in her decisions about technology firm investments.
In Organizational Behavior & Design, Maren gained critical insight into the ways organizations are structured, which today influences her decisions about new business opportunities. Of all her classes, Management of Technology was perhaps the most applicable, giving Maren the tools to develop a technology strategy and long-range goals for her sector.
Beyond the classes, Maren found another dimension in learning from her fellow students. “The diversity of the group people of varying ages and backgrounds, from aerospace and neurobiology to banking and information technology adds many different perspectives and value to the learning environment.”
Midway through the program, Maren was promoted to her current role as manager of technology strategy and portfolio development when a supervisor observed her progress. “I think the program definitely had something to do with the promotion; I had been focused on programmatics, and the new position transitioned me to strategic planning role for my sector. I credit EMTM with opening my eyes beyond engineering to the ‘business’ side. Once you complete this program, you become the person who can connect the dots and that makes you much more effective in contributing to your company.”