Women’s History Month 2015

We are proud to introduce you to these exceptional female graduates:

Anne Roby ’86 ChE
Sarah Arscott McKeever ’09 ME
Eileen Maginnis ’79 CE, ’82 MSCE
Laura Takacs ’96 CpE
Katrina Schmitt ’14 CpE

 

Laura Takacs ’96 CpE
Laura Takacs ’96 CpE

Laura Takacs ’96 CpE, Managing Director, Technology Division, Goldman Sachs

Q: Where has your career taken you since graduation from Villanova?

A: After graduation I joined Lockheed Martin Communications Systems as a software engineer in their Engineering Leadership Development Program. The program provided a great transition from school to a full time working environment as it allowed me to participate in continuing education at the company in order to learn more broadly about its businesses and technologies. The rotational program also enabled me to work on different projects across multiple areas including information security, intrusion detection, and public/private key cryptography systems. During this time, I also earned a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from University of Pennsylvania while working full time.

When I left Lockheed Martin (which by that point had spun off as another company, L3 Communications Systems), I joined Goldman Sachs as an Analyst Developer in the Technology Division on their Trading Systems team. I felt Wall Street was an exciting place to work and apply my engineering skills—particularly at the height of the dot-com bubble. Through my 16 year career at Goldman Sachs, I have had the opportunity to work in many different areas of technology – including Electronic Trading, Operations and Risk. While I never imagined I’d stay at one company for this many years, Goldman Sachs has allowed me to pursue different internal opportunities in order to continue to grow my technical skills, advance my career and contribute to many interesting initiatives across the firm. 

Laura Takacs, Managing Director, Technology Division, Goldman Sachs
Laura Takacs, Managing Director, Technology Division, Goldman Sachs

Q: How would you describe your current position?

A: I am currently a Managing Director in the Technology Division at Goldman Sachs. I am the global head of Credit Risk Technology which engineers systems for managing risk the firm has to all of its counterparties on the portfolio of trades across the firm. Our risk platform is a highly complex, compute intensive infrastructure which is central to risk management for the firm. Calculating risk, managing and mining large data sets, and building applications using the latest technologies are part of my day-to-day responsibilities. My team is located in New York City, Salt Lake City, London, Warsaw and Bengaluru so I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with people from around the world as well as interact with many people in other global business areas. Technology is the largest division at Goldman Sachs so beyond my team, I have the opportunity to access other areas of technology doing interesting work such as cyber security, open-source communications platforms, big data analytics, and cloud security to name a few.

I also co-head the Women In Technology network for the Americas focused on recruitment, retention and development of our female engineers. This role has been a rewarding experience as I’ve had the chance to mentor, develop and learn from so many talented women engineers. It also provides me with the opportunity to participate in outreach programs external to the firm that invest in developing technical skills in girls at young ages and to help build our next generation of female engineers.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A: In a field that can be stereotyped as interacting primarily with machines(!), working with such a diverse and talented group of people has actually been the highlight of my career! At Goldman Sachs, there are experts across a wide spectrum of technical and financial topics. It has been extremely valuable to have the opportunity to interact with this network, not only to seek their expertise in a number of areas but in turn, to be able to meaningfully contribute to their own respective initiatives. The problems that a highly motivated team of people can creatively solve through teamwork and collaboration—particularly in a time of crisis—is what stands out to me the most.

Q: How did your Villanova education contribute to your success?         

A: Villanova’s College of Engineering had a highly technical curriculum, which prepared me to move into the workforce with a strong foundation in computer engineering, allowed me to hit the ground running immediately in my first job, and taught me how to continually learn and advance in my career long after graduation.

As an institution, Villanova also stressed particular values that continue to impact me significantly. Working hard as an individual, contributing to a team, and giving back to others through philanthropic initiatives were all stressed consistently throughout my education at Villanova, particularly through my engagements in the College of Engineering and as a member of the women’s softball team. These values have certainly contributed to any successes in my career as well as in my personal life outside of work.

Q: What one piece of advice would you offer the next generation of female engineers?

A: Stay hands on and have a voice! (Ok, so maybe that’s two pieces of advice – but equally important!)

By staying hands on I mean keeping close to the evolving technologies, to the details, to what is going on around you and making that part of your day-to-day work.  In an industry that changes as rapidly as technology, it is important to continue to keep your skillset sharp so that you are best positioned to drive decisions on what the best technology solutions are for your domain. You need to carve out time to learn, even with a busy schedule. Staying relevant in the latest technologies is key to driving ongoing motivation and value.

By having a voice, I mean speak up in terms of what you like, what value you bring and what you want to do. No one can read your mind in terms of your aspirations or capabilities so letting people know is critical. In particular, having a technical voice is important so that you can express your technical ideas confidently and influence decisions and solutions.

Female engineers are still a minority in terms of numbers and we have a responsibility to be role models for other young women and encourage them to see the interesting work that engineering has to offer!

Katrina Schmitt ’14 CpE, Software Engineer, UFA Inc.
Katrina Schmitt ’14 CpE, Software Engineer, UFA Inc.

Katrina Schmitt ’14 CpE, Software Engineer, UFA, Inc.

Q: What have you been doing since graduation?

A: I'm a software engineer at UFA Inc., a software company outside of Boston that makes air traffic control simulation software to train air traffic controllers. I work directly with the code, implementing changes that our clients request and fixing existing bugs. An example of something I've worked on is adding code so that an aircraft automatically adjusts its speed when entering a holding pattern.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A: My career to date has been relatively short since I just graduated in May and started working here in August, but I think each successfully completed project is its own highlight, in a way. At first, most of what I worked on were little bug fixes so that I could get familiar with the code, so when I finished my first actual project to add additional code (the hold speed adjusting that I previously mentioned), that felt pretty great. It's cool to see how quickly I’ve been able to help out and have an impact.

Q: How did your Villanova education contribute to your success?

A: Villanova contributed to my success in many ways; from obvious things like teaching me the programming languages I needed to be successful in my job, to others like providing me with a strong work ethic and desire to be my best. The College of Engineering is notoriously very difficult, and while everyone (myself included) loved to complain about the amount of homework we got every week, and we wished our classes could be a little bit easier, it definitely prepared me for the "real world."

Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of female engineers?

A: While I consider myself part of the "next generation" of female engineers and I don't have a great deal of professional experience, the advice I'd offer is to never give up. People will doubt you and your abilities, even subconsciously, and often times that is really discouraging. Just remember that you are as capable (maybe more!), as every single other person in your class or in your field. So keep working hard and stick with it!

Senior year photo of Eileen Maginnis, 1979.
Senior year photo of Eileen Maginnis, 1979.

Meet Eileen Maginnis ’79 CE, ’82 MSCE, President, ABC Fulfillment

Q: Where has your career taken you since graduation from Villanova?

A: Upon graduation in 1979, I took a job at Conrail in their project management department, working with project managers on cost and scheduling. After two years, I went to work for Metier/Artemis, the start-up company whose project management system I had used at Conrail. For more than 15 years, I held a variety of positions in the company, including project management software trainer, project consultant, account manager and sales manager. Working with a start-up company, which eventually grew from 10 to 250 worldwide employees and more than $200 million dollars in sales, was an invaluable experience. It taught me the meaning of teamwork since everyone needed to be able to perform a variety of tasks in the early years. You grew to understand every aspect of running a company, including marketing, sales, customer service and accounting. The company was eventually sold to Lockheed Information Systems.  

I stayed with Lockheed until the birth of my third child, at which point I decided to stay home with my children. But, I always kept my hand in the project management consulting field and worked on many volunteer projects for non-profit organizations and my children’s schools.

Eileen Maginnis, president of ABC Fulfillment
Eileen Maginnis, president of ABC Fulfillment

Q: What are you currently doing?

A: About eight years ago, once my children were all in college and high school, I decided it was time to think about getting back to work full-time. I spent almost a year researching potential jobs and business opportunities. Did I want to get back into the project management field or did it make more sense to start my own business? Around that time, a friend who was in the corrugated box business mentioned that fulfillment was a quickly growing field and that I should put it on my research list. Most fulfillment projects required managers who were detail-oriented and produced work that was on-time and within budget. It sounded like it was right up my project management alley! He also mentioned that there were very few women in this field, which also caught my interest. 

I started ABC Fulfillment with one customer in 2007. The company began with traditional fulfillment projects, including end-aisle displays, repackaging and labelling projects. In late 2009 and early 2010, we started getting many calls for e-commerce fulfillment. The explosion of online shopping in the past four years has significantly changed our customer base. Currently more than 70% of our business is e-commerce driven. Today we have more than 25 customers for whom we provide packaging and shipping fulfillment services for orders placed through online stores and shopping carts. Our software integrates with a variety of shopping carts and we often receive and ship thousands of orders each day. 

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A: I have really enjoyed the past seven years at the helm of ABC Fulfillment. It has been very fulfilling to work together with so many talented people to grow the company. The highlight would have to be building our internal systems to integrate with a variety of online shopping carts, which in turn has allowed us to compete with much larger fulfillment centers. These systems have enabled us to ship for major retailers and “flash sales” sites efficiently, effectively and seamlessly, which our customers appreciate. 

In addition, we have had the opportunity to work with national TV shows that feature products for a limited time at 70% off,  including “Jill’s Steals and Deals” on the Today Show, “Deals and Steals” on Good Morning America, and the “Hollywood Steals” segment of the Hallmark Channel. We also have worked with Amazon, Fab, Zulilly, and others, shipping to their distribution centers. These online stores require us to ship thousands of packages each day, and the systems we developed allow us to do this accurately and effectively.

Q: How did your Villanova education contribute to your success?

A: My engineering degree has served me well in so many ways. I think that engineering teaches you critical thinking and problem solving, which is invaluable in any field. Whether you are working in engineering design, project planning, marketing, sales or any business field, most engineers are able to look at the big picture and come up with solutions to problems, contributing to the success of the entire organization. Although I am not in a typical “engineering” field, my Villanova education has certainly contributed to my success by reinforcing these critical skills. 

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to the next generation of female engineers?

A: I would offer this same advice to all people: Take the time to explore many opportunities and find out what really motivates you. Once you discover what you love, success will follow. Don’t stay in a field that doesn’t interest you. Make the first part of your career the time to find out what you will love to do for the rest of your career!

Sarah Arscott ’09 ME (right) with classmate Ashley Ferguson '09 ME  on an Engineers Without Borders trip to Thailand.
Sarah Arscott ’09 ME (right) with classmate Ashley Ferguson '09 ME on an Engineers Without Borders trip to Thailand.

Sarah Arscott ’09 ME, Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Axalta

Q: Where has your career taken you since graduation from Villanova?

A: After graduation, I started my career in a rotational program with Air Products. I gained experience in maintenance, capital project management, and systems design in Allentown, PA and Baton Rouge, LA. Upon completion of the program, I took the opportunity to train and certify as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, something I first heard of as a Villanova student during a networking session with the Society of Women Engineers. Many in the industry were speaking of their credentials as green belts and black belts, so I began researching the topic and added it to my career bucket list.  As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, I execute improvement projects with cross functional teams, and mentor other green belts and black belts on their projects.

This year I started with Axalta—a leading global company focused on coating systems. My job with this company is to identify, analyze, and execute fast-paced, high-return projects.

Sarah Arscott, Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Axalta
Sarah Arscott, Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, Axalta

Q: What do you do in your current position?

A: My role as a black belt incorporates many facets of the business. The variety of projects I am involved with span end to end supply chains and a cross functional organization. Currently I am working with marketing, finance, procurement, production, lab, distribution and warehouse teams, as well as external suppliers to ensure our end customers' needs are met in the most effective and efficient ways possible. By examining existing processes with a new perspective, we are able to make strategic and tactical changes to reduce cost, improve throughput and quality, and minimize defects or rework. This translates into real business savings and improved customer experience. With change comes a variety of challenges and hurdles to overcome. It takes a great deal of focus and organization to manage all of the changes and keep the project moving forward to the goal line.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A: My certification as a Black Belt was a significant milestone that marked a great deal of preparation and achievement. As the lead on our project team, I was responsible for delivering consistent results. I was one of the youngest, as well as one of the fastest, to become certified in my company.

Q: How did your Villanova education contribute to your success?

A: Early on, I recognized that a combined engineering and business background would enhance my understanding of the work place, providing me with both the technical and financial skills needed in larger corporations. In my sophomore year, I added a business minor to my mechanical engineering major to ensure I had a foundation in both areas.

Villanova encouraged my growth as an engineer and a problem solver in the classroom, in extracurricular activities and in internships. Problem solving was part of every course, from labs, technical writing and presentations, to ethics, accounting and finance. Given these opportunities to refine my professional skills, I gained the confidence to handle almost any situation.

I took advantage of every career fair, resume workshop and practice interview to position myself as an attractive candidate for internships and employment after graduation. As president of the Society of Women Engineers and Engineers Without Borders, I had an active role in leadership and was given the opportunity to lead project teams. I was fortunate to have summer internships to apply my skills in the real world, and then apply my on-the-job experience to what I was learning in the classroom when I returned to school.

Q: What one piece of advice would you offer the next generation of female engineers?

A: Don't shy away from a challenge. When you are stretched to accomplish a goal, you will learn so much through your successes and setbacks. Take all that you learn from each experience and apply it to the next.

Anne Roby, Villanova Class of 1986
Anne Roby, Villanova Class of 1986

Anne Roby ’86 ChE, Senior Vice President, Praxair

Q: Where has your career taken you since graduation from Villanova?

A: I have enjoyed a steady progression of growth and experiences in my 24-year career at Praxair, a Fortune 250 company, the largest industrial gases company in North and South America and one of the largest worldwide.  

Because I love the chemical engineering field and I wanted to continue to be challenged, I pursued my PhD at the University of Delaware following my graduation from Villanova in 1986.

I joined Praxair in 1991 as a development associate in the company's Applications Research & Development organization in Tarrytown, New York. The Applications R&D group develops new uses for our gases and my focus was on applications for the chemical industry. During my time in this role, I was granted four patents relating to the use of oxygen in organic oxidations. In 1996, I expanded my career path and became the global marketing manager for chemicals and refining based in Danbury, Connecticut. I had no formal education in marketing; however, through my R&D role I had studied the needs of the chemicals industry and the trends and technologies that were driving it, giving me the breadth I needed to take on this challenge. In 1999, I moved to Houston to become a pipeline sales and business manager focused on developing business along our US Gulf Coast pipeline network. In 2003, I took on responsibility for the operations of our pipeline system and one year later, added the responsibility for commercial activities related to both pipeline and merchant atmospheric products. In 2006, I became vice president of the U.S. South Region, responsible for Praxair’s business in a seven-state area from New Mexico to Louisiana, including our Gulf Coast atmospheric and hydrogen systems.

In 2009, I returned to the East Coast after being appointed vice president, global sales. One year later, I was named President of Praxair Electronics, with global responsibility for products, services and technologies supplied to the semiconductor, flat panel display, LED and solar industries. In 2011, I was promoted to President of Praxair Asia, based in Shanghai, China, with responsibility for Praxair’s industrial gases business in China, India, South Korea and Thailand as well as the electronics market globally.

Anne Roby, Senior Vice President, Praxair, 2014
Anne Roby, Senior Vice President, Praxair, 2014

Q: Describe your current position.

A: I was named senior vice president in 2014, responsible for Global Supply Systems, Research & Development, Global Market Development, Global Operations Excellence, Global Procurement, Sustainability and Safety, Health and Environment. In this role, I am responsible for establishing the strategic direction of Praxair’s global technology programs to ensure that the company develops and implements the most innovative and sustainable technology to drive our competitiveness and to ensure that our customers improve their competitiveness. I lead a team of 1,500 professionals and oversee the execution of capital projects in excess of $2B/yr. I report to the Chairman and CEO and I am a member of the executive leadership team which represents the Office of the Chairman.  

Q: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

A: The highlight of my career is having the opportunity to serve in my current leadership position at Praxair.  As an executive leader, I have the opportunity to influence the strategic direction of the company and mentor high potential talent from around the world   

Q: How did your Villanova education contribute to your success?

A: My Villanova education provided me with a critical foundation needed to successfully tackle a variety of challenges and opportunities. In my field of chemical engineering, I became much more disciplined in the areas of critical and analytical thinking, written and verbal communications, teamwork and collaboration, and business ethics. Most importantly, I became much more focused on details and understanding the importance of not overlooking critical information – no matter how insignificant it seemed at the time. In my current role, I help ensure that all Praxair leaders embrace their sacred responsibility of providing safe and efficient products and processes to our employees, customers and global communities.

Q: Please offer one piece of advice for the next generation of female engineers.

A: Be confident, take risks and do not be afraid to step into leadership roles. We all have our own approach to leadership – and so it’s important to be yourself.  Do not try to imitate someone else’s leadership style. You will be a more effective leader and a happier person if you stay true to yourself.