An Eight-Point Plan For Success

Current student Raj Shekhar Madhurakavi talks about the lessons he’s learned in the MEM program as he prepares for graduation and a new role as senior program manager at Mathworks.

Raj Shekhar Madhurakavi is ready to change the world.

Shekhar will begin working this July as a senior program manager at Mathworks, whose lofty goal is “to change the world by accelerating the pace of discovery, innovation, development, and learning in engineering and science.” 

Raj ShekharTo succeed in that role, Shekhar plans to leverage the lessons he learned in Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program. Shekhar entered MEM with more than a decade of experience working in the automotive industry. As he prepares to graduate, Shekhar reflected on the eight most important takeaways from his time in the program that he plans to apply at his new job. 

See the big picture 

Shekhar took on an independent study project with the City of Chicago focused on planning for the growth of electric vehicles. His work dove into the details of determining things like the number, type, and locations of future charging stations. But the big-picture goal remained central for him – helping the city prepare to accommodate 1 million electric vehicles by 2030. 

“It is a great responsibility,” Shekhar said. “I feel happy to be a part of this project contributing in a meaningful manner [and] impacting the society positively.”

Develop a varied skill set so you can take on tasks no one else is willing to tackle

The MEM program helped Shekhar broaden his skills so he can lead by example and do whatever task is necessary to get the job done. 

“MEM allows you to pursue courses in product management, supply chain, data analytics, and other engineering disciplines while still learning about leadership, marketing, strategy, and finance,” he said. “It offers a good combination of technical and business subjects.”

Build relationships outside your comfort zone

Shekhar loved the MEM program’s emphasis on building industry connections, from the program's annual Industry Night to frequent networking opportunities. 

“More jobs are found during events and through networking than on any job website,” he said. “I learned that first-hand.” 

Be a go-to person and someone people like to be around

To become that, Shekhar took advantage of two externships during his time in the MEM program to learn more about what, to him, was a foreign work environment. 

“Having limited exposure to US work culture, it was important for me to get a sense of the culture and work dynamics,” he said. “The externship was very helpful in gaining that experience.” 

A career is not linear; navigate the twists and turns

Shekhar was attracted to the MEM program because it offered a relatively quick detour – nine-to-15 months for most students – on his career path. 

“Being an experienced professional, my preference was to rejoin the workforce as soon as possible, and this program really supports that objective,” he said. 

Lead without a title

Shekhar applied his experience with electric vehicles in his independent study project and was able to offer strong guidance to Chicago, even without a management title. 

“The hypothesis and the conclusions I proposed have a possible impact on the city at large,” he said. 

Always do the right thing

Shekhar noted the MEM program’s strong emphasis on business ethics throughout.  

“Ethics are crucial for oneself and for the organization,” he said. 

Continue learning

Although Shekhar's time with the MEM program is coming to an end, he knows that his education doesn't stop after graduation.

“The program is great, and it offers a world-class learning atmosphere,” he said. “I will leverage my skills along with the lessons learned to contribute my best in the professional journey ahead.”

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