“So often scientifically trained people who start new companies get lost in the scientific details. An EMTM degree gives you the ability to see farther and broader so that when the time comes, you can step away from R&D and product development and take on other challenges.”
Mikhail Maiorov, PhD, EMTM’05
Vice President of Operations
AKELA Laser Corporation
Monmouth Junction, NJ
Mikhail Maiorov, PhD, EMTM’05
Mikhail had a longtime ambition of co-founding a technology company and serving in a position that would influence its direction. With a PhD in physics, Mikhail laid the foundation for his early career at several high tech companies, including the Advanced Technology Center, Ford Motor Company, Sarnoff and Princeton Lightwave. Though he was advancing in the area of research and development, he saw the possibility for greater career growth in enhancing his management skills. “I was doing well but I could sense that without getting some additional education and business savvy my career would hit something of a dead end.”
Mikhail considered several different traditional MBA programs but was unimpressed with the programs’ ability to define management skills in relation to new technology and innovation. He was living in central New Jersey at the time and when he learned of EMTM it seemed like exactly what he was looking for. “EMTM very quickly defined my choice. I especially liked the range of the course options and the way the curriculum integrated both business and technology within each class.” He was also drawn to the diverse backgrounds and expertise of fellow students, which he felt would enrich the academic experience.
While at EMTM, Mikhail worked closely with classmate Blair Linville and took advantage of Wharton’s Venture Initiation Program, an initiative of the Wharton Small Business Center. Together they developed a business plan for a laser technology to process organic compounds. While the concept didn’t go further than an early funding stage and both students moved on to other pursuits, Maiorov sees the experience as a valuable one. “It helped me apply my technology understanding and learn how to create a business out of it.”
After EMTM, Mikhail spent some time consulting with a few colleagues. He later leveraged his VIP and EMTM know-how into starting AKELA, a photonics manufacturing firm that supplies the defense, medical and industrial sectors. “R&D and operations are always connected and understanding both is critical to delivering a high quality product. The knowledge I gained learning how to create value through R&D and manage R&D through operations was essential.”
Mikhail continues to visit campus up to four times a year to take advantage of the ongoing education programs for alumni and to stay abreast of technology trends. He also stays in touch with fellow classmates and onetime professors, both professionally and socially.
While specific skills like valuing technologies are useful, Mikhail finds his EMTM education as a whole invaluable for seeing the bigger picture as his company finds its legs. “So often scientifically trained people who start new companies get lost in the scientific details. To get a company get off the ground you have to be able to see the whole. An EMTM degree gives you the ability to see farther and broader so that when the time comes, you can step away from R&D and product development and take on other challenges. The program positioned me for success and it made my life richer.”