Growing into Leadership

Joe Washington (EMDC '22) talks about the lessons in executive management he learned as part of Northwestern Engineering's EMDC program.

Joe Washington grew up in Chicago, and from an early age he knew about the academic reputation of Northwestern University. He wasn't sure if he'd ever enroll at the school, but if he did, he thought it would give him opportunities to grow professionally.

He was right. 

Joe Washington Washington built a career in project and construction management, but when it was time for a new educational pursuit, he turned to Northwestern Engineering's Master of Science in Executive Management for Design and Construction (EMDC) program. What he found was even more than he initially imagined.

"I can't say enough about how much I have grown as a result of this program," said Washington (EMDC '22), who today focuses on construction management for the U.S. government. "I expected to grow professionally, which I did, but personal growth and realizing its impact are invaluable as an executive, and I did that, too."

Washington was drawn in by the program's executive management curriculum, and he thought the flexibility EMDC offers would fit well into his own personal career plan. He has a strong interest in software innovation ideas for the construction industry, and EMDC allowed him to pursue these opportunities while taking advantage of resources made available by the University.

Through EMDC, Washington also developed a deeper understanding of the decision making factors that drive executives.

"I am more comfortable and better prepared to lead thanks to EMDC," he said. "Now I can better develop myself and others around me inside of an organization and within a larger community."

What he was not counting on was the level of support offered to him and his classmates.

"The professional and personal support is unprecedented, and everyone takes part in everyone being successful throughout the program," he said. "That includes colleagues, classmates, faculty, administrators — including EMDC program leaders — and other programs and departments at Northwestern.

"The network that you become a part of starting with the EMDC program is invaluable."

Washington reiterated that is not just language from a marketing department; he's seen participation in the EMDC community lead to life-changing outcomes for classmates.

"I have witnessed the networking that goes on within the EMDC program lead to contract opportunities, career opportunities, and business opportunities," he said. "This means enhanced business development and revenues and strategies to scale a business. There are current and past EMDC participants who have scaled their businesses exponentially as a result of this program."

Eager to pay it forward, Washington is working closely with Shelley Finnigan, new EMDC program director, and Michelle Mittelman, assistant director for alumni and industry engagement from the Office of Professional Education, to launch an organized alumni ambassador program. The goal is to enable alumni to re-engage with Northwestern, the EMDC program, faculty, staff, and students via professional development, creative engagement initiatives, admissions activities, and more. Stay tuned to this space for announcements on Washington’s efforts and to get a front-row view of his leadership skills in action.

McCormick News Article