Jerry Robbins '09

Jerry Robbins is one of our "originals" — he graduated with some of the very first IEM classes. Recently, we caught up with him to ask him what he thinks of IEM now that he's out and using what he learned professionally.

Since you graduated from IEM, what have you seen improve in your life because of what you learned?

Two things stand out: A new, business-driven point of view has made me a better leader and a better servant. The routine technical and project decisions I make are more heavily influenced now by business factors and realities. This is producing better decisions and happier customers (and a better quality of life for me). More interesting, though, is the unexpected effect the program has had on my musical performances. I am much more engaged with members of the audience than I was before participating in the IEM program. The program requires constant, intentional communication, collaboration with team members, and presentations to colleagues, professors, and guests. I like to say this demand on personal interaction helped force my love for people to outgrow my fear of them. This inversion, others-conscious vs. self-conscious, has revolutionized nearly every aspect of my professional and personal life.

Do you think IEM is just like all the other graduate programs? Why? Why Not?

I don’t have a basis of comparison, but I would hope all graduate programs are as accessible, intentional, and fruitful as IEM.

If you recommend this program to others, what are your talking points?

I always mention the red pill/blue pill. In the movie Matrix, one could take the blue pill and life would go on as usual. Or, one could take the red pill and his view of the world would change forever. I took the red pill, and I’m happy I did. I come from a software development and project management background. The IEM program opened my eyes to other vital aspects such as business planning, network security, enterprise architecture, and entrepreneurism.

Are you glad you invested in IEM? Are you happy with the outcome?

I am pleased with my investment in IEM. I continue to reap benefits from skills I developed or viewpoints I acquired while in the program.

What is something you would say to someone considering IEM right now? Is it worth their time? Will it help them in the long run? Why do you have the opinion you do of IEM?

I would say, ‘Evaluate your professional goals.’ In my career stage, I felt I needed an ‘M’-something after my name in order to be upwardly mobile. I found that the ‘M’ I received from the IEM program (MEng) represents a broadened mind and a more capable and confident person. I would also hasten to say the program has a heavy entrepreneur bent. This does not mean that enrolling in the program requires one to quit his job and start his own business. It does mean that he will have opportunities to flex his imagination, skills, and passion to transform the most important enterprise of all: himself.