Student Spotlight: Q&A with Alex Berry: An Outward Focus

Apr 26, 2016 | Atlanta, GA

ISyE fourth-year student Alex Berry (2017) stays busy. His focus is always directed outward, looking at global issues and perspectives – one of his two minors is in Chinese – but amidst his many activities, he remains firmly grounded at Georgia Tech. In addition to participating in the Honors Program and the Student Government Association, he is a Stamps President’s Scholar and serves on the student advisory councils for both the College of Engineering and the Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering (ISyE). He is also the president-elect of the ISyE Ambassadors.

In this interview, Berry talks about his growing experience with supply chain engineering, his focus on cultural diversity here at Georgia Tech, and what he learned from studying abroad.

Why did you select Georgia Tech for your university experience, and why did you choose ISyE for your major?

From an early age, I knew I wanted to go to a top-ranked engineering school. Living in Albany, Georgia, I didn’t always have as many course options as I would have liked. However, based on family travel experiences, I also knew I would want an education that focused on the global experience and solving global problems. I visited Georgia Tech during a Connect With Tech admissions event and a scholarship weekend. I had never before met such a concentrated group of passionate, engaged, and brilliant students who all not only had dreams but had even started on plans to achieve those dreams.

When I went to the ISyE session at FASET [Tech’s 1st year orientation program], I knew applied systematic thinking that not only relied on math and data, but also on a leader’s intuition and insights, would be for me. ISyE also provided me the technical background that has given me credibility and experience to begin to tackle the global problems that initially attracted me to the field.

You are developing significant experience in supply chain engineering. Why have you chosen to focus on this particular aspect of ISyE?

Corporate America. School systems. Governmental functions. NGOs. At the core of many large and small organizations is the quality, robustness, and responsiveness of their supply chains. Even with many of the buzz words that are popular today such as Big Data, sustainability, and corporate social responsibility, many organizations implement projects in these areas through their supply chain.

I think an organization’s supply chain has the greatest possibility of impacting individuals on a local and global scale. That’s why I chose it: the potential for impact.

This selection has also immensely helped shape my academics. For example, I also dreamed of being able to study abroad. Because of ISyE’s Beijing-Singapore program, I was able to take classes from the best professors in the world and gain a global perspective on supply chain and logistics management. With two other study abroad programs offered through the Denning & Technology Management program, I have been able to explore the relationship between global supply chains and how they drive macroeconomics and geopolitics.

You’re involved in a wide variety of campus-based activities. Briefly describe a couple of your current roles and what you do for each of them.

I am currently a member of the Student Government Association, having previously served as class president for three years, and as the co-chair of the Cultural and Diversity Affairs Committee. I’ve gotten to work on some of the underlying problems of inclusion and diversity at GT, from bringing cultural organizations together through round table discussions to planning Atlanta-wide Intercollegiate events aimed at fostering collaboration between the different Atlanta schools.

I have always been passionate about mentoring, whether being mentored or having my own mentees. I currently have over 25 Tech mentees in both official and unofficial capacities; they are nicknamed the Horde.

I’ve always believed that mentoring was the best way to build bridges at Georgia Tech, as well as to engineer cultural change on our campus. To this end, I am working with the New Student and Sophomore Programs Office and a talented group of student leaders to create K.N.I.T. [knowledge, nurturing, interactions, traditions], a 1st-year campus-wide mentoring organization. We will have our first pilot semester this fall with over 80 mentors, and a bandwidth to connect and reach over 200 students!

You were the project manager for Psuedomorph Films for several years. This seems like a departure from your other activities. What interested you about working on film projects?

Many of my friends are creative, innovative, and artsy types who had beautiful ideas and grand visions. Together, we developed and expertise into telling meaningful stories. I wanted to use my organizational mindset to help make their visions a reality. Plus, we had a lot of fun! My favorite project was “The Difference.”

Diversity and sustainability are two areas where you have spent a considerable amount of your extracurricular time. What about these issues is important to you on a personal level?

For me, it comes down to in what type of community do I want to live. When I think of the best parts of my childhood, it was always getting to meet, learn about, and interact with people from all over the world. I was able to see firsthand how what I did in my local community could have large ramifications for another community thousands of miles away. I wanted that impact to be intentional and positive. When I think of my best friends at Tech, I notice that they come from all over the world—from here in Atlanta, to China, to Nigeria, to Columbia. So when we grab food and talk about growing up or the change we want to make in the world, it’s inherently a conversation about diversity and sustainability.

You have studied abroad several times. What have you learned from these experiences?

  • Just go ahead and eat it, no matter what it is, and then ask what it is made of later. You’ll get to have so many more wonderful experiences without letting preconceived notions bog you down.
  • Problem solving is great, and duly needed in many environments, but creating long-term and intercultural relationships is much more important.
  • When you go abroad, history and politics really comes alive. It’s like diving into the pages of a textbook and being able to live out history.
  • People have a natural curiosity about those from other cultures. Sometimes that may manifest in strange ways, but the underlying theme is curiosity.

 

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  • Alex Berry, ISyE fourth-year

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Shelley Wunder-Smith

Writer/Editor

Stewart School of Industrial & Systems Engineering

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