Engineering Exchange: Q&A with Laura Pittman (B.Eng.'13)
Laura Pittman graduated from Memorial’s bachelor of engineering program in mechanical engineering in 2013. Originally from St. John’s, she is currently living and working in Washington, D.C. at McKinsey & Company where she is a leader in their Life Science program. Ms. Pittman is helping to expand healthcare innovation by educating physicians on life-saving therapies.
In this Q&A, Ms. Pittman shares some of her inspiration on finding the right career path.
Jackey Locke: What drew you to Memorial?
Laura Pittman: While I had the chance to attend other universities, it was really the co-operative education program that helped confirm my decision. I also had a great community of friends heading to Memorial (both within and outside Engineering).
JL: How did your professional journey begin?
LP: My work terms were really the beginning of my professional journey. They provided invaluable opportunities to test different industries (for me that was public sector, energy, healthcare), experience different company cultures (I worked with 6 different organizations), live in different places (three different cities) and explore potential career paths. My journey towards my current role started serendipitously from a conversation about grad school with someone who worked at this company I’d never heard of called McKinsey, with whom my work term supervisor introduced me. When they found out I was from Newfoundland, they said I had to meet a Partner who was a Memorial alum, and then more conversations came from that. I enjoyed every interaction, getting to know interesting people and walking away inspired and energized. When I was finishing grad school and it became time to think about full-time roles, a couple of McKinsey partners came to campus and I was instantly reminded of the energizing conversations I had a couple of years before. From my work terms and self-reflection before grad school, I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare space, but I didn’t really know what that meant practically. Consulting in some ways reminded me of my work term experiences; it was an opportunity to get to know an industry, work with different organizations, focus on interesting problems, work across the world and continue to explore. McKinsey was the first company I applied to for a full-time position and when I got my offer I jumped in and haven’t looked back.
JL: What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a young person just starting out in their career?
LP: This is the time to take chances: start your own company, explore a different area, move to a different country, push outside your comfort zone. As an engineer there will always be opportunities to fall back on if you take a chance and it doesn’t work out.
JL: How does what you learned at Memorial connect to what you’re doing now?
LP: Memorial, and the Memorial Engineering community, continue to be an important part of my life: it was through a Memorial alumni that I really got to know McKinsey and was encouraged to apply, I’ve reconnected with Engineering classmates all over the world and there’s something special about living outside Canada, seeing someone else with an Iron Ring and instantly having a connection, particularly on the days where you feel very far from home.