Thomas Paasch

Thomas Paasch

Tell us about yourself.
I’m from Portland, Oregon, I graduated from Oregon State University in 2012 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and I work as a Senior Product Manager for Warn Industries, Inc. Warn is the leading brand in off-road vehicle accessories and recovery equipment. If you’ve seen a Jeep with a winch there’s a good chance it was a Warn winch!

Tom with mountains in back standing next to his road bike.My passion and where I find the most satisfaction is in creating something new. To that end, I’ve turned my garage into a metal fabrication shop just so I can build more stuff! I even built my own racecar in there. I try to carry that same passion into what I do at work- finding innovative ways to break outside the norm and never being afraid to try something new.

If I’m not at work, in my garage, or out on the race track then I’m enjoying the outdoors here in the Pacific Northwest: mountain biking and camping in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Why Engineering Management?
I was drawn to engineering management’s blend of courses covering technical topics like project management and data analytics while still offering courses on business and finance. I felt this blend better suited the real world technical and project demands that face a product manager compared to a traditional MBA.

Why did you choose the Cornell Engineering Management program?
The Cornell Engineering Management program is unique in that part of its curriculum focus is on design thinking, innovation and product management, all of which appeal to my passion and my career. 

Can you give an example of something you learned in class that you then applied to your job? 
I can give two examples. First, we tended to follow the traditional innovation pipeline of generating new idea or product solution and then beta testing with a focus group to determine whether it would be successful. With some of the lessons from Professor Simoncini’s SYSEN 5740 Design Thinking for Complex Systems I am shifting more of our innovation focus to defining the market problem and need before jumping straight to solution space.

Second, I really appreciated Professor Newman’s focus on soft skills in ENMGT 5900 Project Management. I have taken project management courses in the past and they are all focused on the technical aspects of project management- building project plans, determining critical path, how to run specific software, etc.. Those courses don’t cover the resources that actually accomplish project tasks- the people that work for you. It’s already changed how I lead teams and my approach with colleagues at work.

What is next for you?
Launching the next generation of Warn products that rethink and reinvent the vehicle recovery experience from beginning to end! And probably taking on another race car project.

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