“What I came away with was invaluable: At age 53 I came out of this program with energy, knowledge and a tremendous boost. It’s like EMTM made me 30 again.”
Peter Gabriele, MS, EMTM’03
Glen Rock, PA
Peter Gabriele, MS, EMTM’03
With a master’s degree in biochemistry, the first published paper on the biotechnology of coal and multiple patents in the U.S. and abroad, Peter had a long, rich career as a technologist. As he approached his 50s, however, he knew that in order to stay competitive, he would need to refresh his understanding of new technology and examine more closely the ways in which it intersects with business. "I always felt at odds with the business side, and I didn't always feel prepared to defend my ideas. I was getting older and I didn't want to paint myself into a corner in my career." Peter was on the way to a job interview with his current employer, Adhesives Research, Inc., when he found an advertisement for EMTM in an in-flight magazine. As part of his compensation package for the new job, the company agreed to sponsor his education. Nine months after he completed the program, Peter went to management with a new idea: materials that could be marked with microtext for security assurance. The company created a new division, ARmark, where Peter serves as technical director today, overseeing the manufacture and implementation of this technology in industries like pharmaceuticals, luxury goods and apparel.
Peter had considered traditional MBA programs, but EMTM seemed like a better fit for his interests. The combination of technology courses from Penn Engineering and business courses from the Wharton School sounded, to him, like "heaven on earth. Whereas MBA programs are often criticized for overlooking technology, EMTM focuses on the relevant overlap between technology and business. For me, it was a way to secure my skill base for the future."
EMTM has enhanced Peter’s career in multiple ways. Early on the program, a Nanotechnology lecture on atomic force microscopy piqued Peter’s curiosity about the subject and he tracked down an atomic-force microscope to examine Adhesive Research's drug delivery systems. His work, comparing the microscope view side-by-side with a view through a Fourier transfer infrared spectroscopy device, won him a Dahlquist award, a prestigious honor in the adhesives industry.
Perhaps even more fundamental to the direction of his career was EMTM's role in helping Peter and co-worker John D'Ottavio EMTM'03 turn a good idea into a new division of their company. Having a great idea was not enough — they needed to demonstrate a need for the microtagged materials. "One of the things EMTM teaches you is to look below the surface, and we were able to make our case to upper management."
Peter says EMTM gave him both the confidence and the skills to build the new business. "EMTM classes helped me integrate business policy and strategy in my day-to-day work. In just about every class you're analyzing technologies from a business standpoint and using data mining to size up an idea's potential. Often, as scientists, we have a hard time quantifying the value of technologies. The business core gives you a foundation — you have the language to speak with executives. I look back and now know this education is sustainable because I was challenged right out of the envelope."
Based on classes in intellectual property, Peter was able to draw up the new division's initial intellectual property policy. "That's a huge responsibility when you're talking about a company like this one. It's one thing to be free spirited and have the freedom of thought to connect dots, and it's another thing to understand the business implications of your invention. Now that I have that understanding, I'm a much better scientist for it."
Peter sees the program’s influence in his work and the respect from his peers. "What I came away with was invaluable: At age 53 I came out of this program with energy, knowledge and a tremendous boost. It's like EMTM made me 30 again."