Teaching Lessons From a Career as a Business Consultant

Adjunct lecturer Amjed Shafique (MEM '04) talks about how students learn from his professional experiences and his unique perspective on the program as both a teacher and an alumnus.

In 2004, Amjed Shafique left Northwestern as a graduate of the school's Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program. In 2012, Shafique returned to MEM as an adjunct instructor, a role he continues to hold today.

Amjed ShafiqueIt was as a student in MEM that he developed an expertise in project management, process excellence, and quality systems tools. Today he leverages that knowledge as a business consultant; Shafique has previously worked with the Bank of Montreal, TransUnion, and Chicago Public Schools and across industries, from engineering to banking to retail.

During his time as a MEM adjunct lecturer, Shafique has taught courses on Decision Tools for Managers and Supply Chain Management. He recently spoke about what students experience in his classes and what he thinks sets MEM apart from other comparable programs.

You are in the unique position of teaching in the MEM program and also being an alum of the program. From your perspective, what is it that differentiates the Northwestern MEM experience? 

The MEM program offers a unique curriculum that blends engineering and management, which makes it very attractive for engineers who are seeking management and/or leadership roles within the engineering environment. The MEM program has been a huge enabler for me to transition from mechanical engineering into information technology, data analytics, software development, and many other professional fields.

What do you hope students learn from each of the courses you teach?

Our students are going to be future leaders, and my goal has always been that they should be fully equipped to make intelligent and data-driven decisions. I also focus on building the bridge between academic learning and real-life implementation by showing them the practical implications of the topics they learn throughout the course.

My lectures are typically divided into three parts:

  • Lecture
  • Collaboration with teams
  • Teach-backs by teams

I call this “Active Learning” because whatever students are learning in a lecture, they are practicing it in the team environment and presenting their findings to the rest of the class. With this learning process, students achieve better retention of the topics discussed in the class and feel more confident about applying in their professional careers.

What do you enjoy most about teaching in MEM?

It is the quality of the students that we have in our MEM program that makes teaching so much fun. The majority of the students have at least a couple of years of work experience before joining the MEM program, and it makes it very easy to relate my course topics with their day-to-day experiences.

Why did you decide to pursue your MEM at Northwestern?

Prior to joining the MEM program, I already had a graduate degree in mechanical engineering. I loved engineering, but at the same time, I wanted to get into the management role. The MEM program was the perfect fit for what I wanted in a graduate program. I feel that joining MEM was the best professional decision I have ever made.

How do you describe what you do professionally as a business consultant?

As a business consultant, I help organizations with their program management needs in the area of data analytics, IT infrastructure, mergers and acquisitions, and supply chain management. I also mentor Six Sigma Green-belt and Black-belt trainees.

You've said that as part of your work, you transform visions into reality. Can you tell me more about what that means to you?

Visions are our roadmaps and the modes of transportations are the enabler to make visions into reality. I help my teams with creating a better vision for their desired end results and provide them with guidance on how to achieve those goals in a most cost-effective and optimal fashion.