Q&A: On Leadership with an Engineering Grad

I recently was asked by ILEAD to reflect upon my engineering leadership experience and share some of my lessons and growth along the way. Below are the answers to the Q&A.

Enjoy!

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1. Tell me a little about yourself (program, year, your hometown). 

  • Program: Industrial Engineering, Operations Research
  • Year: 1T3+PEY
  • Hometown: Panama City, Panama
  • Hobbies: Rugby, Snowboarding
  • Can’t Live Without: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and All You Can Eat Sushi!
  • Most Thrilling Memories: Sky Diving in Canada and Cliff Diving in Greece!

2. How were you involved outside the classroom?

  • President, Nspire Innovation Network
  • Chair, National Business and Technology Conference 2012
  • Sponsorship Director, Engineering Society
  • Co-Founder, Simulation Case Competition
  • Head Leader, Engineering Orientation Week
  • Member, MIE & Cross-Faculty ILEAD
  • Mentor, MIE Mentorship Program
  • Engineering Rugby Team, UofT

3. Why did you want to be an engineer? 

My ultimate goal in life is to eventually build and lead a company of my own. I studied engineering to gain and hone the critical thinking and analytical abilities that are necessary for complex problem solving. Additionally, engineering taught me how to communicate and work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams, working together to design and create high-impact solutions.

4. Looking back, how would you describe yourself in First Year? How would you describe yourself now? What important lessons did you learn?

In First Year, I’d say I was a bit of an “innocent loose cannon”. I was incredibly excited to join clubs, work on cool things, “lead” others; but I had no idea what I was doing. I had an “act first, reflect later”, which ended being incredibly friction-full.

Now, I’m much more self-aware of my strengths and ambitions; as well as better able to empathize with and leverage the abilities of my peers.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that leadership begins with a foundational focus on your team, working together to achieve shared goals. Today I employ a “How can we best succeed together” approach, which has made all the difference.

5. Why is engineering leadership education so important right now?

Engineers are capable of solving some of the world’s most significant problems; from creating open education platforms to delivering cost-effective universal healthcare. The thing is that engineers can’t do this alone. They will need to be able to communicate technical ideas effectively and collaborate with peers from other sciences. Leadership education is the bridge that will enable engineers to become changemakers in a global environment.

6. How has ILead supported you through your journey?

ILead gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership abilities in both an academic and experiential environment. These abilities prepared me to lead a 50+ student national non-profit as a 3rd year student. They enabled me to lead a 4 month North-American supply chain initiative that achieved a total 4.5MM in sales during my internship at P&G. ILead gave me the tools to tackle the most significant challenges and excel each step of the way.

7. What’s the next stage of your journey? 

In my near-future career, I will be building a technology startup in Panama City, Panama. My goal is to leverage technology to improve the quality of life in Latin America. I’m passionate about my hometown and want to use my engineering and leadership skills to make a difference here. Throughout my professional career, I plan to continue to seek opportunities to empower my peers and serve my community.  

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Definitely an insightful experience to look up and reflect upon the impact ILEAD had on my leadership education. I challenge you to do this same exercise with the main experiences in your life, be them your career or volunteer work. Thanks again to ILEAD for the leadership support and mentorship! 

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