Prepared for the Professional Pivot

Patrick Hopkins discusses how the MEM program gave him what he needed to show how much more than “just an engineer” he truly is.

Patrick Hopkins (MEM '23) knew he was more than "just an engineer."

Northwestern's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program helped him realize just how much more he had to offer.  

Patrick HopkinsToday, Hopkins is the marketing manager for infusion pumps and enterprise digital applications at medical equipment manufacturer Baxter, where he has worked for the past nine years. He was promoted to his current role while working through the MEM program.  

“MEM was instrumental in helping make the job change,” Hopkins said. “The coursework in core business classes helped round out my skill set. Once I added the real project work in classes like Product Management on top of that, I was able to make the case that I was someone who could connect and blend the business and technical domains.”

Hopkins joined Baxter in 2014 and worked his way up through different engineering roles. Knowing he wanted to become more of a leader within a technological company, he turned to MEM — where he was introduced to product management. 

“I scanned through the MEM course curriculum and found Professor Birju Shah’s syllabus on Product Management. It was like a lightbulb finally went on,” he said. “Everything he detailed in that course was exactly what I wanted to do in my career.”

Hopkins joined MEM’s part-time program, which allowed him to continue his career while preparing for the professional pivot. He said he found the dual responsibilities a worthwhile challenge, and credited those around him for helping him find balance.

“I am fortunate to have a very selfless wife and dedicated family who supported and encouraged me the entire way through,” he said. “I am also grateful for the unwavering support from my teams and managers at Baxter, who recognized the value of this degree and always accommodated night classes and even a daytime class in my final quarter.”

Because of that support, Hopkins was able to not only complete his coursework but get a jumpstart on his switch to product management. He landed the marketing manager role a year before his MEM graduation.

Now, Hopkins is responsible for the enterprise gateway applications for Baxter’s infusion pumps. He spends his days collaborating with the company’s R&D engineers, downstream marketing teams, regulatory experts, and manufacturing plants to manage the life cycles of the products for which he is responsible.

He said having a focus on the department’s core products while working to innovate new ones is a perfect balance for him.

“As fun as the pure innovation plays are, I think it is invaluable to spend time with core products that are essential to customers today,” Hopkins said. “Without these experiences, it would be easy to fall victim to designing solutions to problems that don’t exist.” 

Hopkins credits MEM with helping him get where he is today, which is why he strongly recommends the program to prospective students. He said MEM does a great job preparing professionals for the challenges of modern-day business.

“The breadth of MEM courses exposes you to so many different disciplines, which is the reality of business today,” he said. “Product managers need to have at minimum a practical understanding of areas like operations, marketing, and finance because they are all needed to make great products come to life.”

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