“I now have a leadership vision and the program has helped me sharpen my focus and goals. EMTM has definitely put me in a better position for future opportunities.”


Melissa Wanner, MS, EMTM’08
Project Management Engineer
United States Army
Picatinny Arsenal, NJ

Melissa Wanner, MS, EMTM’08

Background

An engineer by training, Melissa was working for the Army when she pursued her Master's in mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology. After getting her degree, she was transferred from her job as project engineer to a more senior role in the project management office, leading teams on developing ammunition improvements. While the new position fit with Melissa's desire to take on management responsibilities, she knew that in order to optimize her own performance she was going to need more supporting experience. "I was trained to look at things from the technical side, but I wanted to know more about the managerial and decision making skills necessary for implementing new technology into the field."

Why EMTM?

She wasn't necessarily planning on going back to school, but an EMTM alumnus in her office told Melissa about the program and suggested she could benefit from negotiations and strategic management education. With his encouragement she looked into the details and found that the campus was geographically convenient — about two hours from her home in New Jersey. EMTM's blended curriculum struck her as especially relevant to her career. "In my office we're always looking for new technologies, so I felt the program would be very applicable to my work — more so than an MBA." The weekend structure was an added benefit; she liked being able to focus on her classes during school weekends without sacrificing time in the office.

Career Impact

Although it was relatively early in her career when she entered the program, Melissa has found the lessons both consistently relevant and applicable to her daily tasks in the project management office. Foundations of Leadership was helpful in illuminating team dynamics and strategies for managing conflicting personalities, helping Melissa improve her own leadership competency. In Strategic Management class she learned negotiation skills, which now serve her well in her PM contracts. "I've learned a lot from my marketing class as well. We're always trying to sell projects internally to upper management or Congress, so these skills have been helpful in terms of presenting and promoting these projects." She also benefited from the technology electives: Her Human Computer Interaction class gave her tools to assess the effectiveness of the user interface on newly designed products — another useful skill for her ammunition projects.

In the long term, Melissa hopes to move into a strategic planning role in the Army. In the meantime, the program has given her a better understanding of the dynamics within her office and she feels that it will continue to open doors for her. "I feel more confident going into negotiations and working with contractors. I now have a leadership vision and the program has helped me sharpen my focus and goals. EMTM has definitely put me in a better position for future opportunities."