Featured Alum

Matt Hitzeroth

Army: Combat Engineer, Officer
 Biosense Webster
Position: Staff NPD Engineer, Product Management
Education: United States Military Academy at West Point, Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering

Your career path to your current role:

Starting position at Biosense Webster:

Senior Engineer, Manufacturing Engineering within the Lifecycle Engineering group of Product Management (PM) at BWI, a Johnson & Johnson company.

What has been your career path there?

  • I started out as a Senior Engineer (project engineer; generally individual contributor or team collaborator) learning and being exposed to the products, requirements, and technologies within the highly regulated medical device industry.
  • Over 2 years, I was part of various projects including manufacturing line setup and validations, risk management and mitigation activities, defect and scrap analysis, supplier assessments, and product relaunch. In the product relaunch I was in a technical leadership role for my function and on successful completion was promoted to Staff Engineer (lead project/product engineer role).
  • I continued to support larger projects including leading technical integration of an acquisition for another year and then transitioned from Lifecycle Engineering to New Product Development where I’m currently the lead PM Engineer on several products/project. I’ve been with BWI/J&J for 4 years now.

Describe your current role.

  • I’m currently Staff Engineer in New Product Development which takes R&D medical device concepts and develops and integrates processes, design, technologies, and supply chain requirements to deliver a safe, effective, and commercially sustainable launched product. I’m currently lead engineer on one product nearing launch, one product in initial ideation, and one externally manufactured accessory product under development.
  • The product development process within our industry and device classification generally take 2-5 years per product so these projects are considerable investments in time and resources. As lead PM engineer, I’m directly responsible for the product/projects meeting technical requirements, development timelines, managing project CAPEX and resources, and shaping supply chain decision making. I accomplish this by coordinating a team of junior engineers, manufacturing associates, and a larger cross-functional project team; a mix of direct and in-direct leadership.

What is one thing you learned during your 11 months as a candidate with Cameron-Brooks that has been influential to your career success?

I feel that all the deliberate preparatory effort toward understanding specific company needs and position requirements and practice at effective interview dialogue helped me become a more clear and effective communicator. Much of the success of my technical projects hinges on my ability to effectively communicate and influence team decisions. So, the discipline learned in preparation, the emphasis on brevity, and the focus on direct and supported dialogue has been a big benefit.

What book/blog/podcast have you read recently that has had a positive impact on you at work?

How to Make Collaboration Work by David Strauss. Building consensus is one place where team leadership can differ between military and business culture. I spend a lot of time shaping and leading through deliberate consensus building and collaborative relationship development. A lot of emphasis is put on this in my group because of the nature of our organization and how decisions are made; we’ve gone through several trainings and team building events on this topic and this is one book/resource to gain some insight in a general sense.

What has been your biggest accomplishment in the business world that you would not have been able to complete without your military background?

I was very comfortable stepping into a variety of leadership roles including direct, indirect, up, down, and cross-functionally based the types of positions and projects I experienced as an Army Engineer. This allowed me to focus more heavily on learning the technical aspects of assignments which I had no previous academic or experiential background. This was especially critical on my product relaunch project where I had a variety of leadership frameworks to engage and a truly complex technical challenge to work through. We successfully relaunched the product on schedule with problem solved and a great wealth of background technical data to present to our regulatory body.

What specific advice would you give to other Cameron-Brooks Alumni, especially the ones in their first two years?

Don’t expect your first promotion; earn it.

Is there anything else that you feel would be beneficial to current or former JMOs?

For current JMOs: Understand what your perspective employers specifically are needing and looking for. This is especially critical at the conference where you have to get it right in a “speed dating” setting or that’s it. First, take the time to analyze the job descriptions carefully. Second, be comfortable enough with content of your personal interview Q&A that you can be listening and watching for cues during the interview. Don’t sell what your most proud of/think is important, sell what they need. If you’re too focused on making sure you hit your Q&A points you may miss the why/need behind questions that will come across in verbal and non-verbal cues. Don’t just talk! Listen, watch, take notes, ask questions, be willing to change your approach if your answers aren’t addressing their need.