On the heels of the Capstone Design Expo, select ISyE alumni are invited to share their industry insights and guidance with future graduates completing the final capstone course.  

These alumni members build up the Senior Design Executive Panel, which serves as a vital bridge between academia and various industries.  

The Spring 2024 Senior Design Executive Panel featured alumni who have navigated the ever-evolving field while encountering a myriad of challenges. This year’s panelists were Megan Langley (IE ‘09), Errika Moore (IE ‘96), Eleana Padilla (IE ‘19, MS SCE ‘20), and Kyle Zeman (IE ‘12). 

Langley holds an MBA from Goizueta Business School at Emory University and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Tech.  

During her academic years, she led a successful senior design project for the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), which won recognition. 

Errika Moore, (IE ‘96), Executive Director for the National STEM Funders Network 

Moore has been recognized for her contributions with honors such as Outstanding Georgia Citizen and Woman of the Year by Atlanta’s Women in Technology.  

Previously she was the Senior Program Officer at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, leading the team focused on creating equity in education and workforce development for over 900K+ students. 

Eleana Padilla, (IE ‘19, MS SCE ‘20), Product Manager at Oracle 

Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Padilla moved to the U.S. for college. She earned her bachelor’s and master's degrees in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Tech.  

In her Senior Design project, Padilla collaborated with Cisco Systems to develop a mathematical model aimed at maximizing profit from returned products.  

In her master’s program, conducted with Louis Vuitton, her team designed a tool to recommend inventory levels and SKU movement for regional distribution centers and stores based on sales profitability. 

Kyle Zeman, (IE ‘12), Partner at McKinsey & Company 

Zeman is a leader in McKinsey's Operations and Advanced Industries (aerospace, high tech, automotive) practices. He primarily helps companies drive significant performance improvements in their products, supply chains and manufacturing, while building lasting capabilities. 

Through engaging Q&A sessions, these panelists imparted wisdom on responding to criticism, transitioning into the workforce, and debunking unhelpful advice.  

Here are a few of their most memorable answers: 

Q: What advice do you have about how to respond to criticism? 

Langley: Recognize the actionable steps within criticism and feedback. Trust your intuition. The feedback source is crucial to decide whether to implement the recommended changes. 

Moore: Remember to take a beat before you respond, so that you can give a more calm and comprehensive response. 

Padilla: The key is recognizing that some things are beyond your control. Your value doesn’t come from what you do but who you are. You are not defined by your job.   

Zeman: Getting criticism sucks but remaining intellectually curious is key. If the person giving the feedback didn’t care, they wouldn’t speak up. 

Q: What piece of advice did you get early in your career that was unhelpful? 

Langley: Early in my career, I received unhelpful advice advocating for rigid, specific plans. However, I soon discovered that being overly fixated on a particular plan can hinder progress. It's essential to maintain flexibility in both personal and professional endeavors, as circumstances may evolve unexpectedly. 

Moore: In the 90s, the prevailing advice was to remain loyal to a job for 10-20 years. However, I've found that blindly adhering to this advice proved to be misguided. True fulfillment comes from following your passion, from pursuing what drives you each morning.  

Padilla: A piece of unhelpful advice I received early in my career was to always do thorough research before asking a question. Conversely, an alternative manager proposed utilizing Slack for queries instead of investing extensive time in research beforehand. 

Zeman: I've encountered numerous voices urging me to explore different career paths, yet I remained steadfast in my first job post-college. After five years, it became clear: I had found my true calling. Sometimes, the best path forward isn't about constant movement, but rather about recognizing and embracing where you truly belong. 

Q: Experiencing a full-time job after graduation can be jarring, what advice do you have for that transition? 

Moore: Given two job offers—one in Atlanta and one in Houston—I faced the daunting prospect of launching my professional career in an unfamiliar city. Initially, I turned down the IBM position, but their persistence proved to be a blessing. It taught me to question my reluctance, even in unfamiliar territory. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. 

Zeman: Entering the workforce can be intimidating. Throughout school, there are always guidelines and constraints guiding your steps, but once you graduate, those constraints disappear. It's natural to doubt whether you're making the right choices. Remember, you bring a unique perspective to the table. Don't second-guess yourself to the point of paralysis because if you're not engaging, you're not learning. 

Author: Nat M. Esparza 

2024 Senior Design Panel

2024 Senior Design Executive Panel

Future graduates completing the final capstone course