Student Spotlight: Otto Nitschmann

Otto NitschmannOtto Nitschmann, originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, is a current part-time MEM student at Northwestern. He studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso and graduated in 2010. He currently works as Powertrain Telematics Specialist with FPT Industrial and is based in Chicago, Illinois. He likes to spend his spare time doing rock-climbing. His secret talent is to make friends and strike meaningful conversations with almost anybody and almost anywhere! He’s a natural at networking, and networking, as we know, can get you places!

We asked Otto some questions about his experience in the MEM program and this is what he had to say:

What made you decide to pursue an MEM degree?

I got to a point where I was not progressing in my career and I thought about changing companies, but then I figured out that changing myself rather than my surroundings might be more effective.

Favorite Class/Professor?

That is a hard question. There are so many classes and professors I really enjoyed working with, but I think both Decision Tools for Managers and Product Development with their respective professors Jill Wilson and Dan Brown were the ones that resonated the most with me. I also would like to mention that one of the most important lessons I have gotten from the program is Prof. David Semb's advice of "you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable".

What is the most surprising aspect of your experience in the program?

The material learned in most classes can be applied to several aspects of life, not just the professional one.

How does the program experience prepare you to reach your professional and career goals?

It helps at so many levels. Everything from understanding the way people in other departments work to the way our actions affect the message we are trying to portray. The program really opens the student’s eyes to so many dimensions of running business I didn't even know existed.  

What is distinct about your program experience?  What draws you in?

When I decided to pursue a graduate degree, I wanted to find an MBA program that would be focused on engineering since I knew I wanted to stay in that sector. When I heard about the concept of an MEM degree, it immediately got my attention, but what really made my decision easy was the quality of the professors and the opportunity to attend classes in person.

What do you feel you’re learning from Northwestern’s program that you might not be experiencing elsewhere?

The opportunity to learn from professors who are highly qualified and have great experience in their fields really make a difference. One really gets the feeling the faculty and staff really care about the students learning. I remember one time in particular when I had to miss a class due to a work conflict and Dr. Rao took time out of his full-time job as a CEO to go over the slides for that class with me. That was such a humbling experience that I will never forget.

Once you’ve graduated and are looking back, what do you think will have been the most valuable thing you will have received or learned from this program?

The confidence to take on large challenges. Learning about how great people have developed businesses and created such great things with limited resources really gave me perspective on my own capabilities.

What advice would you give future/prospective students?

Yes, it is a lot of work. Yes, it is hard. Yes, you will have a lot of late nights and lose a lot of weekend fun. However, you will not regret this decision.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I want to highlight how much fun I am having. Just being around such smart and ambitious people puts me in such a great state of mind. Attending all of the workshops, networking events and meetups the MEM program offered introduced me to other great people and opportunities. I have enjoyed all of every class I took and audited so much that I kind of don’t want to graduate and want to keep learning.