Senior Product Manager
University of Michigan, BSE Industrial and Operations Engineering, 2015
University of Michigan, MSE Industrial and Operations Engineering, 2016
After graduating from the IOE BSE program in Spring 2015, I had the opportunity to be a Product Management intern with Amazon in Seattle, WA (a career path that I hadn’t specifically looked at prior to graduation). During the internship, I experienced the exciting, fast pace of the tech industry, along with the opportunities in the PM role of working with both tech and business contacts. After the internship, I liked it so much, I decided to return to Seattle with Amazon on the International Expansions team, to bring tech solutions to customers all over the world. International expansion was a must from me in terms of career, as I participated in the International Minor for Engineers and felt a passion for cross-border solutions. From there, I developed my network of contacts as I worked on an increasing scale of products, impacting more country websites and broadening in scope, which eventually enabled me to be relocated to Luxembourg for a 6-month assignment. For this, my charter was to advise a team on best practices and scalability of products I had previously launched for other countries. The experience working across cultures (and time zones) on a wide array of products made me a good candidate for this short term position to teach what I had learned (and teaching is the best way to increase your depth of knowledge on products as well – a skill I learned to love after having the opportunity to GSI for some undergrad classes during my Master’s program).
Upon arrival in Luxembourg, I was challenged to not only advise on products I’d worked on before but also help use those launch skills to improve the business in other ways. I loved being able to apply principles and learnings from previous projects to new use cases. In fact, after 6 months of living in Luxembourg, I decided to find a new start-up team in the EU that I could keep diving into similar initiatives full-time. The IOE Master’s program had given me the depth of knowledge in certain fields but also the breadth of classes across fields/industries is what allowed me to build the foundation for applying basic principles to any field. Having that skill of using your own personal “tool kit” for any number of ambiguous situations is what gave me the confidence and building blocks to propel my career in ways I never expected.
As of July 2020, I found that “new start-up” I was looking for, and relocated permanently to Amsterdam – helping the team to launch the new Amazon.nl website and continue to work on feature improvements/new features from the ground up. My new function is an exciting mix of applying previous, proven methods of leading cross-regional teams and learning new skills every day. I’ve found the most important skill in itself was learning how to start from scratch and deal with ambiguity to find the unique solution to new problems.
How does your Master’s degree differentiate you from others?
For me, the Master’s degree was able to widen my breadth of knowledge in terms of fields. When I can work on projects in my career that are about efficiency and streamlining processes (that I focused on in undergrad), I also have a knowledge of design principles and setting up experimentation that I learned during the Master’s program that sets me apart from other PMs. In addition, I was given the opportunity to apply for more types of roles with the Masters as opposed to just undergrad (though I’m sure this differs by company). The hands-on experience that I was able to attain during the Master’s program is something that gives me confidence as well, which is definitely a huge factor that I was able to influence what types of projects I wanted to work on with my current team.
Reflection on Time Spent at U-M
The IOE department at Michigan is near to my heart – I made some of my best, life-long friends, extended my personal network (meaning I had friends in Seattle when moving to a new city!), and so many experiences that I truly cherish. My favorite classes were definitely the Ergonomics classes (which I never would have thought going in!), and I still quote the design principles on a daily basis when working on customer-facing projects at work. One of the best decisions I ever made was joining the Engineering Global Leadership/Tauber program which opened up a world of networking opportunities (both professional and personal). Also, the Ergonomics society gave me the ability to see a wide array of Industrial Engineering jobs in practice, which helped me narrow down the field I wanted to work in.