Dir. Product Development, Scaled Solutions Technologies
Engineering Instructor, MiraCosta College
Please briefly describe your career path.
I did my undergrad at Cooper Union, a small art, architecture, and engineering school in New York City. I majored in mechanical engineering, and went on to work for i-STAT Corporation, which then became Abbott Point-of-Care. I took a career break to raise my kids. When I decided to return to the technical workforce, I needed a way to show potential employers that I was serious about engineering. I completed an engineering technician training course at the Technology Career Institute, a part of MiraCosta College. When I completed that program, I was hired by Spectrum Plastics Group as a manufacturing engineer. I stayed on with SPG and had roles as a production manager and later a plant manager at their catheter manufacturing plant in Oceanside. That plant was closed last year in a consolidation effort -- I didn't want to relocate, so I decided to look around for other options. I was lucky enough to snag two great opportunities, despite the COVID downturn. First, I'm the director of product development for Scaled Solutions Technologies, a company that was founded by some of my FEMBA cohort colleagues. I was also contacted by the team at MiraCosta around that time -- it turns out that my former instructor was leaving the school, and they were hoping I might be interested in taking over developing and teaching the engineering technician training program from him.
Why did you choose to get your MBA at CSUSM?
I decided to get my MBA soon after I took on the plant management role at SPG. I was getting a real-life MBA, so I figured I might as well get the paper document, too. CSUSM offered a unique combination of in-person cohort-style classes, an affordable price, and a location not far from my home. Also, I have two teenage sons -- I really wanted them to see Mom get challenged, do hard things, and come out stronger on the other side. I think it's a really strong message that mothers can instill in their kids: we are smart and capable. I do often say that my whole family earned this MBA -- I'm lucky to have a really strong support system: my husband and friends chipped in a whole lot of time and effort to make sure I had the space to do this.
Tell us about your current role at Scaled Solutions.
At Scaled Solutions, we're developing a smart tracking system to streamline the chemical reagent inventory process for labs. My role is primarily to support the design, transition to production, and commercialization of our products.
Favorite part of your job?
At Scaled Solutions, I love that the role lets me do everything from craft user stories and big-picture business development strategies right down to physical prototype builds of our hardware.
Tell us about your new role as an instructor at Mira Costa.
At MiraCosta I'm teaching aspiring engineering technicians and helping them find jobs. This is an intense, 600-hour career preparation class where students are gaining hands-on experience with electronics, automation, robotics, and programming. The role requires keeping my finger on the pulse of the manufacturing industry in San Diego County -- I work closely with employers to place students in internship-style work experience partnerships that they do concurrently with my class, and I help connect those employers with course graduates for full-time employment. I'm constantly tweaking the program to meet employers' specific hiring needs.
What inspired you to begin teaching?
Both of my parents are retired teachers, so I guess you might say it's in my blood. I never really considered teaching as a career path that was a good fit for me, but this particular course offers me an unexpected way to share my love of engineering and my people skills with my students. As an MBA graduate, I am also acutely aware of the squeeze on funding available for my program -- we are currently writing for grants, hoping to secure additional funds to keep this program going. We'd love to find a donor that would help us keep TCI going in perpetuity! Most importantly, as a former student, I understand the difference this class can make for a graduate, and I want to help my students experience the same kind of success I have.
Has covid-19 has affected your organization or role?
COVID stopped all voluntary surgery. This created the downturn in catheter sales that ultimately led SPG to close my plant in Oceanside. I have mixed feelings -- of course, it was devastating to lose my job there, to break it to my coworkers that we would either be relocating or be out of work, and to go through the stressful process of decommissioning the plant. On the other hand, if I hadn't mentally committed to leaving SPG when I did, I wouldn't have been able to take on these two great new roles! Ultimately, I feel I've been very lucky -- these two roles have been a dream so far.
Do you have a favorite MBA class/professor/memory thus far?
For my capstone project, I was able to help my husband and his business partners develop a plan to get their software company off the ground. I worked with an amazing team (Kent Seiders, Adam Cordi, and Camille Sybert) and a great advisor (David Grooms), conducting customer discovery and writing them a business development plan covering the next three years. I don't have a lot of experience working with startups, but the more business development I do, the more I think that's a sweet spot for me and my skills.
When I think back on the entire program, I have to say that classes I took with Raj Pillai and Kim McCarthy stand out as the most fulfilling. Raj's leadership class should be required content for any business school graduate. Kim's organizational behavior class was also so enlightening to me as a plant leader. I continue to draw on lessons learned in each of these classes in my daily life.
What are your goals or plans for after graduation?
In the long term, I hope to continue to find ways to do the things I love most, and where I think I stand out: helping small tech/product-based companies to realize their product and bring it to market, supporting community education and workforce development, and helping make connections between people and groups with shared goals. Eventually, I would love to start my own incubator, makerspace, and small business network, focused particularly on supporting women- and BIPOC-owned businesses doing early-phase product development.