Student Spotlight: Daniel Carroll

Daniel CarrollDaniel Carroll, born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, is a current part-time MEM student, set to graduate in December 2018. He studied Structural Engineering and Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology. Daniel currently works as Project Engineer at Chicago Bridge & Iron’s (CB&I) construction technology group. He has been at CB&I for  the past 12 years. Through these years he worked in a variety of departments, domestic and abroad, including engineering, estimation, union construction, and non-union construction.  In these roles, he supported projects all over the world. Daniel has lived in a few different States in the U.S. in addition to living and working in Thailand and Trinidad & Tobago. He enjoys listening to live music and is artistic. He knows his way with woodwork and builds furniture in his spare time!

We asked Daniel some questions about his experience in MEM and this is what he said:

What made you decide to pursue a MEM degree?

I decided to Pursue the MEM degree after initially considering and applying for MBA programs.  I was made aware of the program from the Vice President of Engineering at work and at that point looked into the offerings and decided it was better suited for me.  I felt as though I needed to differentiate myself from others at my company if was going to make some vertical progress within the organization in a timely manner.

Favorite Class/Professor?

I really appreciated the “Old School” feel that Don McNeeley brought to the classroom in strategic management.  Being a South-side of Chicago native, I could easily connect with his style and attitude.  The macro approach to the subject matter was very relevant, being an engineer there is a tendency to be “in the weeds”.  I really needed to step back and learn to digest the big picture.  Don’s candid nature and the truth that he tells really goes a long way with me.  Never before have I looked forward to Monday Nights as much as I did attending Don’s class.  Never before have I had such a heartfelt goodbye either.

What is the most surprising aspect of your experience in the program?

Most surprising aspect of the program was what I learned from Professor Berger.  The first encounter was in Engineering Management 402.  From there Leadership, then I took the elective Negotiations.  Prior to her instruction, I never would have thought that the “soft” skills would be so valuable and intriguing.  These classes really opened up my eyes to what it means to be a leader and how to effectively deal with people.  Learning how to determine what is of most value to me in various circumstances will forever help my personal and professional life.

How does the program experience prepare you to reach your professional and career goals?

I believe that the program really broadened my career potential.  I knew I did not want to do calculations for the rest of my life, and I also knew that I was lacking on many fronts.  The program allowed me to have intelligent conversations with the other disciplines at my company; the marketing folks, finance and accounting people, and all the way up to senior management who are determining strategies about how to position the company for growth in the long term.  I have set myself apart from the majority and it’s already very apparent to management.  This program has already helped me accelerate my career and is aiding me in achieving my goals.

What is distinct about your program experience? What draws you in?

Almost everyday I attend class I can see relevance in what I am learning compared to what I am doing at work.  I continually come away from class and am able to apply what I have learned to my day to day work life.  This has kept my level of intrigue growing and my want for continued exposure a high priority.  My peers that I am in class with push me further than I could have imagined.  I am surrounded by really smart, talented individuals and as they say “you’re only as good as the people that you surround yourself with”.  They continually push me to do my best and I am very thankful to all of them.

What do you feel you’re learning from Northwestern’s program that you might not be experiencing elsewhere?

There is a real sense of camaraderie in this program.  I do not feel as though this would have been so strong elsewhere.  The program is obviously geared towards engineers, we are a certain breed and need particular types of stimulus to stay focused and strive.  This program understands that and has figured out a way to teach these new business concepts in a manner that really allows the members to excel.

Once you’ve graduated and are looking back, what do you think will have been the most valuable thing you will have received or learned from this program?

After I part ways with this program in the form of graduation I will be able to look back and say that the instruction I received really tied up all the loose ends that I had.  I look back at myself before the program and I feel like I showed up to work and performed a variety of tasks but there was no overlying understanding of the big picture.  It was very hard for me to set long term goals; probably because of my own ignorance.  I can see the big picture now.  I understand the workings of a business.  I understand how I fit in and how I can affect change.  That is what I learned.

What advice would you give future/prospective students?

The advice I would give to prospective students would be to apply, enroll and get after it.  For me the 90 minute commute one way and the financial burden was my biggest hurdles before I started.  In retrospect they were nothing.  The knowledge I have received outweighs any obstacle by so much!  The people I have sat next to and attended class with and the Professors that have tough me are so great!  I am lucky to have found Northwestern, the MEM program and having enrolled.  A prospective student will not regret it!

Is there anything else you think would add to your spotlight article?

In addition, the support I have gotten from Steve Tilley and Lauren has been incredible!  I really feel like part of a family here and appreciate everything they have done for me.  It will be hard to leave.