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Engineering paths to leadership: the IEM/MBA journey

Thursday, November 9, 2023

At the Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business MBA program, a dual-track degree at the convergence of engineering and business is creating trailblazing leaders that hope to shape the future of innovation. 


At OSU’s Stillwater campus, Industrial Engineering and Management (IEM) students have found a place in the MBA family. Two IEM students who are now full-time MBA students, Hope Goodwin and Sarah Bishop, are rewriting the script on what it means to be an engineer in the business world.  


This paradigm shift marks a deliberate choice to not only understand the intricacies of building structures and systems but also to master the art of navigating the complex landscape of corporate strategies and market dynamics. Both Goodwin and Bishop fell in love with engineering that focused on improving processes, working with people and combining technical and business aspects. Goodwin says that the opportunity to earn both an engineering undergraduate degree and an MBA in five years drew her in to OSU. 


“This unique path has equipped me with a more extensive skillset than many of my engineering peers possess, allowing me to blend technical expertise with valuable business acumen that I wouldn't have acquired through engineering coursework alone,” said Goodwin. 


In May, Bishop was honored as the distinguished orange gown recipient as the top graduate for the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology (CEAT). When asked about how different industries work in unison, she pointed to the intersection of engineering and business playing a crucial role in shaping the future of technology and innovation.  


"Engineers create and develop new technologies while business professionals identify market opportunities and consumer needs,” said Bishop. “Collaboration between the two leads to the development of innovative solutions that address real-world problems and needs.” 


The driving goal of the MBA program at Spears Business is to achieve tangible, real-world solutions. At OSU, the first step in developing next-generation business leaders is giving them the opportunity to experience this firsthand. Bishop had the opportunity to serve as a project management intern at Hilti in the summer of 2023, where she honed her technical knowledge as well as stakeholder management and communication skills. The balance of these skills is a familiar mindset for many engineers in similar positions. 


“The key to balancing these different mindsets is the ability to communicate effectively with both sides, developing strong communication skills to convey technical insights to non-technical stakeholders and vice versa,” Goodwin said. “I maintain this balance by continually learning and adapting to both engineering and business principles, while also focusing on enhancing my communication skills.” 


Women like Goodwin and Bishop are not only champions at the intersection of engineering and business, but they are paving the way for women in this arena as well. According to the Society of Women Engineers, in 2021 only 24 percent of industrial engineers were women.  


“I would encourage women to pursue their interests in engineering and business without hesitation,” Goodwin said. “Go for what you are interested in and passionate about, but ensure you have a strong support network behind you. Seek out mentors who are currently doing what you aspire to do. Their guidance and experience can be invaluable on your journey.” 


Goodwin and Bishop are on track to complete their MBAs in May 2024 and eagerly anticipate the next chapter in their journeys. As they enter the workforce, they plan to leave a lasting impact wherever they go.  


The fusion of technical and business acumen is evident across various sectors, offering a never-ending pool of opportunities. As the MBA program continues to attract more dual degree students, we take pride in nurturing a growing community of MBAs both online and in Tulsa with roots in IEM like Bishop and Goodwin. 

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