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Alumna Story: Jacqueline Maestri, BSEE ’85

Current City:
Miami Lakes, FL

Major and Graduation Date:
B.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Miami, 1985; M.B.A, International Business, Florida International University, 1988

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?
I started working as an electrical engineer for Cordis Corporation in their R&D department writing software for pacemaker instrumentation to modify settings in the medical devices post implantation.

What do you do for a living now? What does a typical work week look like for you?
I am currently vice president, Johnson and Johnson Engineering and Property Services. I am responsible for providing strategic direction and management of real estate, construction projects and facilities operations across Johnson and Johnson’s more than 900 facilities worldwide. These include administration and office complexes, manufacturing sites, R&D laboratories and distribution centers. As part of these responsibilities, my team and I are driving facilities transformation across our enterprise, including standardization of the many engineering and workplace platforms and implementing exciting workplace innovation for the future, leveraging best practices such as activity-based neighborhoods and technology. I am also a member of the Johnson and Johnson Supply Chain Leadership Team. In a typical week, I am usually traveling to one of our many sites or meeting with senior J&J leaders at our headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to make strategic decisions regarding our real estate portfolio, to monitor progress of key construction capital projects that are enabling our growth and ability to serve patients and consumers, to endorse critical partnerships in our facilities operating model, and to meet and advance talent development of our engineers across the globe.

Prior to this role, I was the vice president, Quality Systems and Services, where I was responsible for strategic quality system programs, quality shared services, computer system validation and IT quality, and Centers of Excellence for Quality Engineering, Supplier Quality and Laboratories across Johnson & Johnson.

What got you interested in a career in engineering?
At a very young age, I had a love for math and science — especially math. As soon as I got home from school, I would always run to start my math homework first. I loved figuring it out and solving problems! As I got to high school, the passion continued through advanced university-level classes. An inspiring high school math professor suggested the field of engineering, right when the field of computers was starting, and I’ve never looked back. I continue to love the challenge of a problem and the satisfaction of figuring it out. As the problems became more complex, the importance of working in teams to bring diverse perspectives and expertise together became even more apparent.  So now I get to do the two things I love the most: solving problems and working with people across the globe!

Describe your most memorable moment as a student at the College of Engineering (CoE).
Well, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the day I met my husband! He was a year ahead of me at the College of Engineering when a friend introduced us my first day at UM. It turns out we were both pursuing the same major (electrical engineering with a computer option — now, computer engineering), so we even had a couple of classes together. There weren’t many females back then in the EE program. Needless to say, it was a good day; we have been married for 30 years and actually celebrated our silver wedding anniversary at the UM Newman Alumni Center five years ago. Our sons are both UM graduates as well: one in communications/media management and the other in industrial engineering … and we have a twelve year old daughter who hopefully will also attend the U. You can say we’re a ’Cane family!

What advice would you give to younger alumni or current students who aspire to follow a similar career path?
Pursue a career that interests you, but be flexible and open as many doors as you can. The future is limitless. I graduated with a degree in electrical engineering and started my career in R&D programming for medical devices. Since then, I’ve held positions in various compliance fields (quality, safety, healthcare), ran quality assurance across all of J&J’s medical device manufacturing sites, oversaw environment health and safety for one of our business units, and held various business unit board positions, and then recently have been in corporate roles across all of J&J in quality and now real estate and facilities. Each position gives you experiences and provides a network of colleagues that allow you to grow and better prepare you for the next role. If you just stick to one field or function, you may be closing doors that could provide you with an even brighter future and the ability to make even greater contributions.

In what ways did your CoE experience have an impact on your career and who you are today?
In addition to the sound education provided at UM, I think there were two additional aspects that had an impact on who I am today. The first was the network that provided for my first internship at Cordis Corporation, a local medical device manufacturer, later acquired by Johnson and Johnson.  Through faculty connections, I applied for a part-time role the summer before my senior year and was offered a permanent full-time position after graduation. Opening that door for me was a critical step that then allowed me to grow and flourish in the company. The second was the incredibly diverse community at the UM CoE. Working with people from different cultures and parts of the world was great preparation for the world we live and work in today. Being part of a multinational company — particularly the world’s largest healthcare company — this experience at UM was vital for my success.

How would you describe the College of Engineering in seven words or less?
Extremely dynamic, innovative, collaborative, forward-thinking engineering community.

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