NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

How to Become a Successful Leader within STEM


Recently, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) invited Cisco executive Ileana Rivera to campus. In an event co-sponsored by both the Honors College and the Center for Leadership and Professional Development, Ileana spoke to hundreds of students in her presentation: “How to Become a Successful Leader within STEM.”

Ileana gave some tips on how to reach your goals.

Be authentic, be yourself.

“Every action that I [take] must be tied to me”

Think about what you are about, then put it on a paper and learn from it. If you do not know who you are, then you can’t effectively market yourself.

Find yourself. Work from there.

Speak out.

Think about your career development. Focus on learning. Ask questions. Make sure that you know the field that you are getting into, and better yourself in areas that you think you need improvement in.

Eventually, you will

Network… network… network.

“Don’t send me a friend request. Meet in person. Networking in person has been great for me.”

Connecting with employers as people is ideal before connecting with them professionally. They will want to help you, because they know you. Networking plays a big part in today’s job market. “It’s not about how many people you know, it is about who knows you.”

Do what you love… love what you do!

She loves technology. She doesn’t love the word or technology itself… she loves what technology can do for humanity. She is only on Facebook to connect with her family across the world; using a service like Skype, she can talk with them without having to leave her house.

“Technology means nothing unless you can prove the value to the business and to yourself.”

Stay hungry, stay humble.

“One of the main things I look for when I interview people is their passion. If they have no drive and there is no conversation, I am done. However, if we talk for 30 minutes and have a great conversation, then I appreciate that.”

Be hungry for more. Want to be in your field bad enough to make it happen. Do everything you can to make your dream come true. Study hard, and work harder.

However, you must also stay humble. “We have a great education here, this place is a luxury. If you don’t remember where you come from, you will fall very, very fast. People go to those that are humble. The best CEOs in the world are those that display humbleness.”

After her presentation, SHPE opened the floor for further questions. Ileana encouraged more women to enter STEM related fields. Finally, when the colloquium ended, she wished students well as they departed.

More information on SHPE can be found on their website at shpe.njit.edu.

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