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Kirsten Schutt

Profession/Title: Business Development Specialist with a background as a Mechanical Engineer 

Business/Company Name: Exxon Mobil

Date of Interview: 11/25/20


        This interview was with Kirsten Schutt, a business development specialist for ExxonMobil with a background in mechanical engineering. Ms. Schutt works with various research and engineering teams on the business side weighing in costs and benefits or drawbacks of a particular product or research endeavor. After hearing this I was definitely interested in finding out how Ms. Schutt came to take on that role and whether or not she liked it better than her years as a mechanical engineer. 

        Ms. Schutt received her degree in mechanical engineering and began a successful career in that field. While she enjoyed building different things and working with different machines, she found herself more and more intrigued by the business side of things. Ms. Schutt explained that as her roles as a mechanical engineer became more and more manager focused she was exposed to the business side of many projects and excelled at that aspect which moved her more into the role. Now she works to consult with different teams on their projections and funding. I found this particular career path very interesting as it is quite different from many professionals I have previously talked to. Many graduate college and move into their respective field and for the most part stay in that field. Ms. Schutt definitely went outside the norm which showed me how flexible and applicable an engineering degree is. Considering that Ms. Schutt had to take only a few informal business classes for her job and most of her knowledge came from her time in college. It was truly impressive. This gave me hope that the degree that I have chosen and the current path I am on will set me up for success. I think that no matter where I end up in the professional world a degree in chemical engineering will give me the tools I need to succeed in any kind of unique situation or opportunity. 

        A common question that I have asked many of the professionals I have interviewed is whether or not they pursued a higher level degree beyond a bachelor’s and if so why. Ms. Schutt explained to me that she did not pursue her master’s degree because not only did she want to enter the workforce but she also found it unnecessary considering the profession she wanted to go into. She explained that getting a degree in engineering allows a person to do a lot more in the professional world than a person with a degree in a fundamental science. This is very similar to something I discussed with another one of my interviewees and something that I find very interesting. It has certainly made me wonder why that is the case, but it also makes me ponder how important a master’s degree is to my career. I have heard such conflicting reports as to whether or not an engineer needs a master’s degree with some saying it is obsolete, others saying it is nice to have, and some saying it is essential. Considering these differing responses, I think this is something that I will need to pursue further on my own to gain a better idea of what the right choice is. 

        Overall, this was a very successful and interesting interview where I learned alot about the different career paths that a professional with an engineering degree can go down. I enjoyed talking with Ms. Schutt and learning about her role as a business development specialist for ExxonMobil.

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