Fernando Mercé, Julie Swann Honored with IEMS Distinguished Alumni Award

They were celebrated during an October 6 ceremony

William White poses with Fernando Mercé; Julie Swann is photographed with Karen Smilowitz.William White poses with Fernando Mercé; Julie Swann is photographed with Karen Smilowitz.

Northwestern Industrial Engineering honored graduates Fernando Mercé (’92) and Julie Swann (MS ’98, PhD ’01) with its 2023 IEMS Distinguished Alumni Award during an Oct. 6 ceremony in Cohen Commons.

Currently the CEO of children’s toy manufacturer Melissa & Doug, Mercé was introduced at the event by IEMS Professor Emeritus William White. Before joining Melissa & Doug, Mercé was president and CEO of Nestlé Waters North America, a company with more than 8,000 employees and 27 factories that produces brands such as Poland Spring, Perrier, and Nestlé Pure Life. 

Read a profile of Fernando from the Spring 2022 issue of Northwestern Engineering. >>

Mercé, who also served as president of Nestlé Purina, Latin America and Caribbean, began his career with Nestlé in 1992 as an industrial engineer and expanded into marketing and e-business, becoming director of marketing for the Friskies brand and subsequently global marketing director in the PetCare global strategic business unit.

Swann is the department head and A. Doug Allison Distinguished Professor of the Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University (NC State). Introduced at the event by Karen Smilowitz, James N. and Margie M. Krebs Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences, Swann is an affiliate faculty member in the joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at both NC State and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Before joining NC State, Swann was the Harold R. and Mary Anne Nash Professor in the Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. There she cofounded and codirected the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems (CHHS), one of the first interdisciplinary research centers on the Georgia Tech campus. Starting with her work with CHHS, Swann has conducted research, outreach, and education to improve how health and humanitarian systems operate worldwide. 

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