“EMTM takes the capabilities you’ve already got and helps you to go beyond, fine-tuning your ability to contribute.”
Mark Pecen, PhD, EMTM’05
VP, Advanced Technology
Research in Motion
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Mark Pecen, PhD, EMTM’05
With a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a doctorate in computer science, Mark already held a senior position in the management of advanced technology, global standardization, intellectual property and technology investment strategy at Motorola when he enrolled in EMTM. At the time he was "looking for additional business training to help extract value from technology and innovation." While he had significant experience in technology leadership, he felt that he lacked the framework necessary to align technology with strategy, marketing and entrepreneurship. In 2005, at the completion of the program, he joined Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of the Blackberry devices, where he is responsible for corporate strategy and economic assessment of advanced wireless technology investments, commercialization of applied research, strategic technology partnerships and customer collaboration on future technology deployment.
Given the relatively high risk associated with applied research, Mark "wanted to get some tools to better handle uncertainty, learn some ways to identify where the markets were going and discover how to make reasonable valuations on technology investments."
Mark knew that he was attracted to the quantitative aspects of business and wanted to enroll in a program that would both address his interests in cutting-edge technologies and provide a first-rate grounding in business. That is why he chose the University of Pennsylvania's EMTM program. He was already familiar with the research, innovation and overall reputation of many of the Penn faculty.
EMTM helped Mark hone his “big-picture” thinking, which serves him well in his current role in corporate strategy. “In my position, I need to understand the range of economic, social, political, environmental and economic forces that effect technology and customer requirements.” Having studied the leading-edge techniques for the management of technology, Mark feels his success in forging partnerships with other companies and governments globally is due directly to the training he received in EMTM.
During the program, Mark selected technology electives that would enable him to explore newer technologies, especially those outside his immediate purview. His courses included Microelectronics, Nanotechnology, Medicine and Biotechnology, and Advanced Telecommunications. On the management side, he chose electives in Computational Finance, Real Options, Advanced Finance, Leadership, Negotiations, Technology Entrepreneurship, and Models and Tools for Marketing Strategy. During the summer break, Mark used an independent study option to focus on "R&D Strategy." He was able to integrate his marketing and finance electives from the management side of the curriculum, particularly the content from Real Options.
At RIM, Mark founded the Wireless and Networking Advanced Research Centre, a set of applied research labs, bringing longer-term technology studies in house and aligning development strategy with the objectives of the corporation at large. Mark points to insights gained in valuation and risk-neutral pricing theory as significant takeaways from EMTM that help inform R&D investment decisions.
Mark plans to send some of his RIM employees to the program in the future. “EMTM takes the capabilities you’ve already got and helps you to go beyond, fine-tuning your ability to contribute.”
An enthusiastic fan, Mark cites the following additional factors as increasing the total impact of the EMTM program:
- The collaboration and co-learning with well qualified classmates, who represent a wide array of industries and technologies. Mark says that the increase in his "actionable network" has been a clear benefit on its own.
- The interest and availability of the faculty. Mark's independent study between semesters was a high point, but he notes that faculty members were generally very accessible and interested in the issues students were dealing with at work.
- The option to go beyond the 20 required class credits. With a schedule that allows 12 courses per year, EMTM students can take up to four extra courses at no additional cost. Mark took advantage of this facet of the program.