“Every time I send out a resume and I mention I'm a grad of EMTM, it definitely gets me noticed and it always gets me an interview.”
Melanie Washington, EMTM’06
Senior Client Account Manager
Melanie Washington, EMTM’06
With an undergraduate degree in metallurgical and materials engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, Melanie parlayed an early engineering position at IBM into a marketing position. “As products became more complex, the company needed people with strong technical background in this area.” Finding her niche, she later moved to MCI, which has since been acquired by Verizon, and worked in sales operations, sales support and project management. “I have been through the ranks,” she says. “But at a certain point I wanted to formalize and quantify my business skills so that I could more closely align them to the types of technology I had to sell or manage.” Though Melanie had completed several executive study programs, she felt she would need an advanced degree to transition into other areas of the business such as finance while advancing into the senior ranks of the company.
Melanie looked at several executive MBA programs, but to her frustration found that much of the coursework seemed elementary and singularly focused on business. “I was looking for something more indepth, more challenging. The environment I work in is tightly integrated, with technology driving business and business driving technology.” She came across EMTM online and was impressed with the program’s top-notch business and engineering faculty and the strong integration of the two academic programs. “I was also attracted to the program because it offered the flexibility to customize your coursework from a technology standpoint, whether you were coming from biotechnology, telecommunications or IT. At Verizon Business, I support customers doing a variety of things, and I was able to tailor the EMTM program in a way that made the degree more valuable.”
Melanie was impressed at the outset with her fellow students and the warm camaraderie the program fostered. In her first class, she formed a team that worked together through the remainder of the program, and she still considers those classmates from various industries her “go-to guys.” “EMTM students challenge one another inside the classroom and out; as a result, everyone experiences a high degree of personal, professional and academic growth.”
During Emerging Technology Seminars, Melanie enjoyed interfacing with executives who shared important insights. “There’s no way the CEO of a high-flying nanotech would have taken my phone call before. After I started EMTM I was able to make one of those calls because the CEO recognized the school, the curriculum and the instructor. So the program is an invaluable experience with unusual access.” Melanie also participated in the Global Immersion Trip to India in 2006 and says she went from a limited familiarity with business in the region to a fundamental understanding of what motivates the culture and drives its technology development.
In Strategic Management, Melanie acquired skills such as backward induction logic that she now uses on a daily basis. “It’s not just critical thinking but understanding, identifying, and in some cases manipulating a strategy to achieve an end. The fact of the matter is that it’s important to have a strategy, but it’s even more important to understand what the competition does in the free market.” In Real Options she learned how to think about pricing proposals in terms of the reality of the marketplace. At work, she convinced the finance team to adopt the strategy, resulting in a $250 million contract with a primary customer the most profitable transaction in her sector.
At EMTM, Melanie also developed an interest in mergers and acquisitions, which she hopes will be the next frontier of her career. “When you look at telecommunications versus other industry sectors, it’s one of the more dynamic and strategic industries; we’re looking at globalization, intercompany, and interpersonal, communications. Really, the sky’s the limit in terms of the market. There’s always a lot of M&A activity here and I want to be on that particular edge right now.”
Like the industry, Melanie’s career seems to be limitless. Since entering EMTM, Melanie has become the number one sales person in the company, and she has encouraged at least one co-worker to attend. “EMTM has enabled me to think differently, to think bigger. Because of that I’m getting opportunities in my career that I never thought were possible.”