Q:What's your most interesting memory from your time at Northeastern?
A:For me, it was each time we started a new course, which happened 8 times during the MSI cohort. Many of us were nervous about the upcoming expectations and the tension was palpable. That first class, every single time, the “new” professor would walk in and set the tone that always ended with the feeling that “everything was going to be OK” and that we were going to learn something exciting about innovation and management.
Q:What is your current profession and what led you there?
A:I am the VP of Operations for a family-owned manufacturer and franchisor of modular wheelchair ramps, with 50+ offices coast-to-coast and in Canada. I left the biotech industry in 2013 to join the business and support my ailing mother. I humbly started my journey in our machine shop and installation teams, and slowly worked my way up the ladder through sales and into operations. I recognized that I needed academic business experience to truly grow professionally, which led me to Northeastern's MSI Program.
Q:What was your class project and how did that project impact your company?
A:My class project was a new, purpose-built wheelchair ramp for commercial, public buildings. This product has had a huge impact on our company already, allowing our 50+ franchise partners to expand into a new high dollar, high margin market. For years, our franchise partners had struggled to adapt our former commercial ramp system, and this innovative approach re-focused on our partner's needs. I cannot take credit for the design, but I did help champion the development with our excellent HQ team in Boston. The product launched in June of last year and in the first 5 months generated $370,000 in sales.
Q:How did D'Amore-McKim prepare you for this career in the global business world?
A:Our COO (my mentor) recently retired, and I “stepped up” into his position. I learned a lot from the MSI program in terms of leadership and management that I employ daily to guide our decisions and motivate employees, even beyond innovation.
Q:What would you say to a prospective student considering D'Amore-McKim for their business degree?
A:It is a great school with caring professors and staff. Compared to my undergraduate experience, I can tell there is something special about Northeastern professors—they truly care about students. I cannot exactly place what it is, but I can relate as a martial arts teacher: I love teaching because I love the subject (martial arts). All the professors and staff that I've encountered at Northeastern give off the vibe that they are there because they like the subject and actually care that you learn and retain what they are teaching.
Q:How has this program and the class project impacted your career?
A:The program has given me knowledge, which translates into confidence. Additionally, the project has brought success to my company by leading us into a highly profitable market.
Q:Some say innovation can't be taught. How would you respond to that statement?
A:I believe that a strong foundation is the best starting point for success. The MSI program provides that foundation, with little prerequisite knowledge or experience required. Professor Marc Meyer's first class is structured around building that foundation, and provides a huge networking opportunity and ice breaker to introduce students to top executives within their companies. Moreover, the “easy part” that people associate with innovation may be the unique ideas, but they cannot grow and be sustained without proper foundations in Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, Accounting, Finance, or Operations—all of which are important subjects taught in the MSI program.