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Gretchen Bauer

Gretchen Bauer '10

Major: Optics
Company: Harris
Title: Program Manager
Field of Work: Engineering

What do you do?

I am financially responsible for several contracts totaling about $50 million. I make schedules, manage the team, manage the money, work with the customer to ensure we are doing a good job, and resolve whatever issues stand in our way. I am also responsible for $5 million of IRAD in order to push our team to drive out product further in its technical evolution.

How did you become interested in your field?

I have been interested in engineering from a young age, always trying to figure out how things work. I became interest in optics through learning about University of Rochester and the amazing optics program. After leaving Rochester, I found that I enjoyed leading a team, interacting with customers, and making sure work was appropriately executed, so I recently moved from engineering to program management.

What, if any, additional education (degree, discipline, institution) have you earned?

MBA, New York University Stern School of Business.

What skills are vital for success in your field?

Understanding the engineering side of things and being able to relate that to upper management through business plans. Communication and confidence in my leadership abilities are vital for success.

What experiences, internships, study, or previous jobs helped you get to your current position?

Working as a systems engineer for five years prior to my current position got me to where I am. I worked hard in the lab understanding what our systems do and how they work. I was given the opportunity to be a lead engineer on a contract where I learned how to manage a team. While I was in that position I was going to night school getting my MBA which gave me the knowledge to understand the financial aspects of running a business. These brought me to running the job as a program manager.

What advice do you have for current students interested in your field?

The key to being successful in program management is understanding what it takes to get the job done. Since I was in the lab, working with design teams, getting things done on an engineering side, I am able to be more effective manager, as I have a respect and appreciation for the work being done. My advice would be to never take on a job where you don't understand the next level of work being done.