Kathleen McGarrell’s personal and transformative experience at DeGroote

June 17, 2020 |
Contributed by Rebecca Hull, Marketing and Communications Strategist

Leadership quote about unlocking potential

Kathleen McGarrell

Kathleen McGarrell

Kathleen McGarrell is a lifelong learner who has a passion for design, innovation, and business. Her formal education connects to her passion for biomedical engineering – striving to bridge technology and business. She actively seeks opportunities to grow, which led her to Siemens Canada’s Engineering and Technology Academy (SCETA).

SCETA is a Work Integrated Learning Program (WILP) to equip students in Canada with the educational and professional foundation required for successful engineering and technology careers.

“Part of what Siemens does in training engineering students is teaching them business skills,” says McGarrell. “Each cohort learns a bit of finance, a bit about their leadership style, and the presentation skills needed to prepare you for your future position at Siemens.”

Executive Education at DeGroote

Students receive valuable educational and career development opportunities that emphasize overall competence and decision-making skills. The DeGroote School of Business comes in during this time to help SCETA interns enhance their leadership development skills. DeGroote’s Executive Management Program equips leaders to increase the value they bring to their organizations.

McGarrell credits instructor Monique Armstrong for helping her discover the truth about the leadership skills she has to motivate others. “Monique taught us about our personality types to be effective leaders.”

“I discovered that there are four communication styles: driver, analytical, expressive, and amiable. I am the person who takes charge and wants solutions. I consider myself a visionary who is great at seeing the big picture.”

McGarrell’s ability to see the big picture makes her so successful in her project management role at Siemens Canada.

“My job is to take products from R&D and bring them to the manufacturing floor. I work with many different teams along the way – with the R&D engineers, quality control, and testing teams. Each of these groups has slightly different priorities and ideas on how to make the product the best. My team, called NPI [New Product Introduction], is responsible for working with everyone and trying to get everyone’s goals to align. It is all about problem-solving.”

Technology and business today

McGarrell’s business training has helped her understand the issues facing technology and business today. “I think it’s imperative when we’re trying to connect technology with business to not forget about the people in between. It’s one thing to have a great piece of tech to save time and money. But if the people don’t know how to use it, if they don’t see the benefit from it, the adoption will not be there.”

DeGroote taught me how to connect to people and sell a product. Our instructor Sanjay Dehbar made us do this exercise to sell something on our desk and sell it to our breakout group. He put us all on the spot – it was a little awkward at first. Even though we only had a couple of sessions with him, I learned how do I pitch something (my idea or this product) and how to succeed. Throughout your career, you’re going to have to push your ideas to your managers, supervisors, and coworkers. Knowing how to structure my sales and marketing and appear convincing and confident was an invaluable skill to gain as a leader.

Sanjay Dehbar’s role was to facilitate an education session dedicated to how strategy can help students navigate and collaborate with various departments.

“Leading the SCETA students through a learning journey is such a pleasure. They are fully engaged, committed, and driven to apply the learnings immediately,” says Dehbar. “What is impressive about the SCETA program is how they prepare students for their careers at Siemens. Degroote ensures that they improve on soft skills, including communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and presentation.”

The outcome of DeGroote’s Executive Education is a personal and transformative experience. For McGarrell, she achieved this by facilitating and nurturing her learning. “I definitely believe in the value of lifelong learning. There’s always more to do – I am always adapting and improving. DeGroote helped me work towards becoming a resilient leader who understands what others need, adapts quickly, and works to find solutions.”

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