Astronaut Doctor -> Engineer -> Product Innovator
How did a kid who wanted to be an astronaut or doctor (or both), become a product innovator?
For some, a career is a straight, linear path - no detours, deviations, or back-roads, and definitely no stopping to explore an un-mapped corner of life. A few years into my college studies, looking at both medicine and aerospace, it took me some time and some real soul-searching, but I realized I was not one of those people.
That I wanted a winding road.
That I wanted to try new things and learn from mistakes and have fun doing it. To learn the discipline to fall, dust-off, get back up, and try again. To find a way to use my creativity in my work. And so I switched from the very strict paths of being a doctor or an astronaut to Engineering.
Engineering seems so structured and rigid on first glance that you could hardly be faulted for believing that it is not a flexible or exciting career option. But the beauty of getting a degree in Engineering with no intention of being an 'Engineer' is that my brain learned a whole new way of thinking.
Of structuring problems and judging solutions.
Of applying logic on top of my creativity to use both my left and right brain to map new ways of approaching challenges in methods that use structure when necessary but also space for the unexpected.
Here's my journey...
Prior to attending Carnegie Mellon, I amassed a decade of experience in the consumer products space. I graduated from Penn State University in 2005 with a BS in Chemical Engineering and a Minor in Biology, and with a full year of co-operative work experience at GE Lighting and J&L Steel Company.
Beginning my career at L'Oreal USA in their Management "Explorer" program, I had intense, high-responsibility roles in supply chain / manufacturing logistics, followed by new formula engineering, and finally leading the design of a plant expansion where I partnered with marketing and forecasting teams as I tried to look 5 years into the future of skincare and cosmetics. This role led to me being chosen as the first Explorer to be sent on an international assignment, promoting me to manager of new manufacturing launches in L'Oreal's Montreal, Canada plant.
After learning to speak and work in French and managing up to 4 direct reports for 2 years, I headed to L'Oreal's North American headquarters to manage development projects for the Professional Products Division, eventually being promoted to Senior Manager, Development for Matrix brands. In my 5 years in Development, I led teams that ran new product development and commercialization for a $1BN division with brands such as Redken, Matrix, L'Oreal Profssionnel, Kerastase, Mizani, Pureology, Essie, and more.
With this diverse experience, I have a unique ability to manage the financials for a new product while also speaking the languages of both engineers/industry and creatives. With my ability to communicate efficiently and effectively across different competencies, across business functions, and across borders, I am able to convey and translate the needs of each stakeholder to drive integrated solutions that benefit the project and the company as a whole.