Balancing a Career with Graduate School

Manoj in library with a red Cornell sweatshirt on.
  • Hometown: Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Engineering Management, M.Eng.

Tell us about yourself: My name is Manoj Chandran, and I currently work as an Engineering Manager at Danish Crown. I just graduated from Cornell with M.Eng in Engineering Management, and previously completed my bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Iowa State University. I enjoy working out, hiking, kayaking, reading, traveling, and checking out local breweries. I have lived in 3 different countries including India, Sri Lanka, and the U.S. Cornell provided a great learning environment for me while balancing work life. Professor Dirk Swart from Cornell really inspired me during his negotiation class, I apply those principles and thought process at my work place. I am passionate about how technology can drive change and help humanity achieve greatness with efficiency. 

My parents are my role models as they worked really hard and believed that I could achieve something big one day. I try my best to work hard and give back to the community to help those less fortunate. Education can help change people's lives and create a better world for everyone.

Manoj standing in front of a large waterfall.Why did you choose the Cornell Engineering Management program? 
Cornell Engineering Management program was a combination of Engineering and MBA. The program was well structured for students to enter the consulting or tech industry. I wanted to learn the technical aspect of both these industries. Cornell University students are well placed after graduation. Ratan Tata who is India's famous industrialist went to Cornell, and I also wanted to be a part of the Big Red Alumni network. 

What do you think was the most valuable lesson you learned while pursuing this degree? 
One valuable lesson that I have learned while pursuing this degree is balancing work, classes, and workouts. I was a distant learning student so being able to attend classes remotely and work full-time consumed most of my time. It's a great feeling to know that all the hard work paid off as I will be graduating this weekend!

What are you reading?
I am currently reading "Get Hired Now" by Ian Siegel. He talks about job opportunities in the marketplace and how work flexibility is preferred. Being a manager, it is essential to structure jobs according to what majority of the people prefer. 

What is one thing about you that would surprise people? 
A lot of my friends don't know my passion for sports. I love to play cricket, and will play whenever I get the opportunity. I also follow football and basketball. I enjoy watching sports with friends and family. 

What advice do you have for prospective students? 
Failure is the step to success. The Engineering Management program will have challenging classes. Make sure to use all the resources available at Cornell. Focus on your career outcomes along with studies. Target the industry you want to get into, and work towards it. 

What is next for you? 
I want to use the skills that I have learned during the Engineering Management program and apply it to my current role. Soon, I plan to work on projects in multiple countries. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
I want to lead an Engineering team or start my own business someday! 

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