Orchestrating the Beautiful Music of Business 

Raj Shekhar looks back on how the MEM program prepared him perfectly for his new career as a senior program manager at MathWorks.

When Raj Shekhar Madhurakavi (MEM '22) steps onto his stage, his job is to bring together the various sections under his purview to make beautiful music.  

But Shekhar isn’t the conductor of an orchestra, coordinating the brass, strings, and woodwinds. Rather, he is a senior program manager at MathWorks, bringing together a variety of initiatives to drive profitability for the company whose products support mathematicians, scientists, and engineers.  

Raj Shekhar Madhurakavi“Just as a conductor brings together different musicians to create a harmonious performance, a program manager brings together different teams and resources to make sure big projects are completed smoothly,” he said. “They plan, organize, and oversee the work of these teams to ensure everything runs on time, within budget, and meets the goals set by the company.”  

Shekhar’s job, then, is to blend a variety of initiatives, mixing them successfully, and bringing each to the forefront at the exact right moment. He said he has found success making this form of beautiful business music with the help of lessons he learned in Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program.  

Shekhar joined MathWorks shortly after his MEM graduation. The company provides software tools that help professionals harness the power of mathematics, data analysis, and simulation to solve complex problems in their fields. 

“Earning a Master's in Engineering Management from Northwestern has uniquely equipped me for project management roles by providing a holistic blend of technical expertise and leadership skills,” he said. “This experience not only deepened my technical knowledge but also enhanced my communication, negotiation, and adaptive skills — essential qualities for thriving in dynamic environments.”  

While a project manager coordinates resources for an individual initiative and a product manager tends to the life cycle for one particular good or service, a program manager is responsible for a variety of offerings, Shekhar said. It is similar to leading a variety of sections of an orchestra rather than one trumpet, one flute, and one violin.  

Shekhar enjoys the variety of his work.  

“I find fulfillment in orchestrating diverse teams, leveraging my technical expertise to drive innovation, and witnessing the tangible impact of successful project outcomes,” he said. “The thrill of adapting to evolving technologies, building strong relationships with stakeholders, and witnessing projects come to life fuels my enthusiasm for the role and drives my commitment to delivering exceptional results.”  

Shekhar said he uses the skills he learned in the MEM program daily. The curriculum’s blend of strategic planning, team dynamics, risk assessment, and advanced project management skills translated perfectly to his working world.  

“Collaborative projects, industry insights from esteemed faculty, and real-world case studies honed my ability to navigate complex challenges and execute projects effectively,” he said. “This distinctive program goes beyond textbooks, cultivating a global perspective that prepares graduates to thrive in a rapidly evolving business landscape.” 

Because of how the MEM program accelerated his own career trajectory, Shekhar strongly recommends it to prospective students.  

He said the program prepares students for difference-making work in a wide variety of sectors.  

“Beyond the academic curriculum, Northwestern's MEM program leverages a powerful network of industry professionals, amplifying career prospects through mentorship and collaboration,” he said. “By choosing the MEM program, professionals embrace a comprehensive and transformational experience that positions them as agile leaders, adept at navigating complexities and fostering innovation on a global scale.”  

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