What do you do?
I run my own freelancing company of just me. I take business problems and goals and translate them into math and equations using available data. There is a lot of art and skill in figuring out how to take the data we have and use it to answer business questions.
Why did you choose this field?
When I was a teenager my mom (who was a materials engineer) told me industrial engineering was "the most general engineering," which isn't exactly true... But industrial engineers care about people plus systems, which turned out to be a great fit for me. I found my specific field of operations research (OR) my junior year of college. In my first OR class I learned the framework of "what are the goals? What are the constraints?" And was excited since that was exactly how I naturally tackle problems. While most of my peers struggled, I finally had a clear plan of what I wanted to do!
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I found a high paying career that I'm good at and find fulfilling. Since I got a PhD, and was unemployed for a year after graduating, I spent a long time wondering if my career would actually "work."
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love solving challenging problems, which are abundant in all of STEM. I personally love balancing the technical and people challenges inherent in so many business problems.
Best advice for next generation?
STEM covers a huge range of fields with a lot of opportunities to find your passion. If you find a type of problem you like to solve, keep practicing. Eventually you'll either get good at solving that problem, or you'll notice that you're better than average at tackling totally new-to-you problems.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
“Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.” – Robert H. Shuller