MEM Background Helps Alum Land Promotion

Jessica Irons (MEM '12) talked about how her experience at Northwestern led to her new role as global digital marketing manager at Honeywell, and why she told her managers to look to MEM for future project managers.

Jessica Irons (MEM '12) was promoted in February to global digital marketing manager at Honeywell, a company that develops and manufactures an array of products for industries ranging from aerospace to pharmaceuticals. Irons was previously a product manager at Honeywell, where she's worked since 2013.

Soon after the promotion, her manager said the company was looking to hire new product managers, and they were searching for someone with a background like hers. She suggested they recruit from the same place she developed her background: Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program. 

"MEM gave me a mix of the technical background, real-world experience, and the business knowledge on top of the technical," Irons said. "That is the ideal background for a product manager and future leader at a technical company."

It was in MEM that Irons also developed her skills as a team member. She strengthened her flexibility and adaptability on projects, and she honed her ability to manage several components of a project at once. She now leverages those lessons daily at Honeywell. 

In her new role, Irons is responsible for driving key transformational marketing initiatives, including working with the company's IT department to push the development of a new website and integrated eCommerce site. She also leads the company's portfolio rationalization strategy, supports go-to-market product strategies, and participates in annual planning for Honeywell's digital blueprint. 

"I have grown in almost every way possible during my time at Honeywell," Irons said, "but I think I've gained the most maturity in business acumen, cross-functional collaboration and relationship building, and being a leader."

That business knowledge, ability to work on diverse teams, and understanding how to manage others are part of the MEM experience. She was drawn to the program because it combines professional engineering practice with the core business and management subjects typically found in an MBA program. Plus, it’s the only degree program of its type offered by a first-tier university in the midwest.  

"Everyone has an MBA program," Irons said. "Not everyone has an MEM." 

That is why she told her managers to look to Northwestern's MEM program for new product managers. As for prospective students considering the program, Irons' advice is simple.

"Do it," she said. "MEM is a master's degree that is unique, at a prestigious school, and has great people and professors who will help expand your horizons and allow you to continue to grow much further in your career."

McCormick News Article