“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.”
Thomas Hipschman, EMTM’00
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Thomas Hipschman, EMTM’00
With a BS degree from the U.S. Naval Academy, Thomas built a solid career in operations and quality oversight in the energy sector. He was working for Public Service Electric and Gas as a quality assurance engineer when he considered making a career change. "I had previous management leadership positions both in the Navy and at PSE&G, but I felt that I needed more credentials to make a career transition." He enrolled in EMTM to bolster his education and investigate his options and the process was a useful one: He discovered that he was, in fact, happy in his industry, but valued the idea of working in public service. A year before graduating, Thomas went to work for the government, first in the National Nuclear Security Administration and then for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he currently serves as a senior level policy advisor.
Thomas was actually en route to getting an executive MBA at another university when he first learned about EMTM. "In the other program I was doing a case study in marketing on frozen dog food which didn't have much to do with my career goals. EMTM was a much better fit and would allow me to draw on my career experience." Thomas' employer was also sold on the idea of a program sponsored jointly by Penn Engineering and Wharton, and agreed to sponsor him. "It made more sense for me to have a concentration in technology." Thomas also enjoyed the flexible nature of the program, beginning full time and completing it on a part-time basis. "There are advantages to both. Over the course of the program, I was able to develop close relationships and go in depth in the subjects I studied while fitting EMTM into the rest of my life."
Thomas credits EMTM with helping him secure new positions and promotions, and ultimately advance to a senior level role. "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."
In the core business curriculum, Accounting and Finance courses gave Thomas a deeper understanding of the budgetary process and allowed him to communicate more effectively within his workplace. "I was able to cut across organizations and interface with senior level managers to discuss either technology or management issues."
Thomas used his electives to investigate subject areas that were less familiar to him yet useful to his work, like Networking, Robotics and Materials, updating his understanding of technology while introducing him to new ideas. Ultimately, it was the Organizational Behavior case studies that convinced him he was better suited to work in the government sector than in a Fortune 500 company. As he interacted with people from other industries — pharmaceutical, automotive and defense, among them — he crystallized his vision. "For some people it wouldn't be an obvious choice to work for the government coming from this program, but I saw that I now had unique skills that would serve both the government and me. I felt I could really make a difference."
Today, Organizational Behavior strategies are critical in his role as a policy advisor, and he also finds himself drawing from Leadership and Negotiations lessons. "I have a much better understanding of why plant owners and operators make the decisions they make, which helped me become a better regulator. Every day on this job something needs to be negotiated, whether it's the subject of a meeting, a decision or a new policy."
Although Thomas arrived at EMTM considering a career switch, the insight he gained helped him commit more fully to the field he was already in. "In the end what we worry about in my field is public safety, and I'm now better at that job. A program like EMTM makes you a stronger contributor and helps your organization become more effective in its overall mission."