Nadene Mills

Nadene L. Mills
Fabrication Technical Lead,
Custom Automation Technology
Pfizer Supply Chain & Automation

Current Rensselaer Student in the Southeastern M.B.A. Program

“Graduating with an A.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, and holding positions as both a first-line applications engineer and a pharmaceutical scientist; you would think that moving to a new position of managing a machine shop full of engineers making custom equipment for pharmaceutical research would be a breeze. Although this was a great fit for my creativity, I would soon learn that performing the work and supervising while others do the work are two vastly different things!

What in the past had been the successful application of my own engineering solutions quickly turned into the horrible ‘hovering boss’ syndrome that all employees fear. Having had one of these types of bosses previously, I recognized the situation and tried to take a more hands-off approach with ‘asking’ more than ‘telling’. Although this was a rough application of managerial-style, it produced a great response from my employees.

With this encouragement, I expressed a desire to my supervisor to continue developing true people management skills. After taking several company-sponsored ‘management’ courses that tended to focus on either policy enforcement, underachieving employees, or areas of the company that were outside of my immediate realm; I began looking for something different. The timing couldn’t have been better as it was at that juncture that Rensselaer began offering the Southeastern M.B.A. (or SEMBA) program. Evening classes that would not interfere with work commitments, a two-day per week requirement which allowed time for team sports and extracurricular activities, and an entire summer free of courses for an exceptional amount of time for vacation and family retreats fit my schedule perfectly.

From the very first Rensselaer class I attended, I knew that this was exactly what I wanted and could be put to immediate practical use. Being placed in a position as a first-time manager has shown me that the most important thing to leverage is that of the practical experience of your direct reports. Acquiring the ability to do this elegantly and effectively takes practice, patience, and practical knowledge. I’ve found that gaining practice and patience is directly related to the amount of practical knowledge you have available to pull from. As a first-time manager I lacked this depth, but have found a convenient way to obtain applicable wisdom within a flexible schedule by earning a Rensselaer M.B.A. through the SEMBA cohort program.”

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Updated: 2016-05-16, 15:32