Student Spotlight: Benjamin Panfil

Benjamin PanfilMEM student, Benjamin Panfil, is originally from Schereville, Indiana. He earned his Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University West Lafayette, before pursuing a Master Degree here at Northwestern. Benjamin now works as a Senior Implementation Consultant at Configure One. During Benjamin’s free time, he loves to do drumming and to attend concerts, as well as to use sharpies to draw designs on shoes. He also loves pizza from a wood-fired oven! Hit him up for that! Benjamin shared some of his thoughts on MEM:

What Made You Decide to Pursue a MEM Degree?

After spending my undergrad in a highly technical degree, I knew that I wanted my graduate degree to be something more business focused, such as an MBA. My biggest fear when looking at programs was that it was either going to not be applicable to my engineering background or that it was going to pull me away from it. When I heard about Northwestern’s MEM program, I knew it would be a perfect fit, merging business and engineering; in fact, when describing MEM, I often say that it’s an MBA imagined by an engineer.

Favorite Class or Professor, Why? 

Tough choice here, as every class and professor have been fantastic to this point. I’m currently enrolled in Product Development for Engineering Managers and what I’ve found most interesting about the class is the amount of content from my previous classes that I’m pulling into not only the class, but also into my job. It really feels like all the pieces of the program are falling into place, and there’s something very exciting and empowering about that.

Best Part About MEM:

Hands down the people. Between the professors, staff and my colleagues, I feel like I’m not just in school, but also building a network and a community. The knowledge and insights I’ve gained from the side conversations before and after class have been as invaluable as the class content itself. The friendships gained along the way have been an added bonus I had not anticipated when first enrolling either.

How Do You Think your Experience Will Contribute to this Program?

I am hoping that in the long term I can deliver back to Northwestern and MEM what it has already provided to me. My hope is build a symbiotic relationship between my company, Configure One, and the Northwestern community, all the while building the Northwestern name.

How Do You Think MEM Will/Have Contribute(d) To Your Career?

MEM has already had an impact on my career. Working in the consultant world, I’m constantly working with customers making large business decisions. In the past, my insight and guidance on these projects were based entirely on previous experience and not on any formal education about the way the business side works. After just a year into this program, I am regularly applying new ideas and experiences I’ve garnered from class into my job. The program has made me a more well-rounded professional and I continue to see the benefits unfold.

Word of Advice to Future Students:

Hard work pays off, but don’t miss out on the fun stuff too! This program will suck up a lot of your time, but you’ll get out of it exactly what you put in it. The classes really encourage you as a working professional to apply the topics at hand to your career. Putting in that extra hour of work is ultimately going to benefit both your school work and your career. Don’t sacrifice it all and not enjoy the experience either though. Some of the best things that I got from this program were the friendships made with my classmates and the Northwestern sponsored events I could attend.