Alumnus Gives Student Peek Into Business World Through Job Shadowing Program

Olivia Lau ’17 reflects on her two-day job shadowing experience with Danaher Corporation president and CEO Thomas P. Joyce ’82
October 27th, 2016 by 


Olivia Lau '17 and Thomas P. Joyce '82 at the Danaher Corporation in Chaska, Minn. Photo by Olivia Lau '17

As a mathematics and computer science double major at Holy Cross, I know that many career paths can fit my educational training. While my training might be highly technical, Holy Cross’s dedication to the liberal arts has instilled in me the importance of exploring multidisciplinary applications of my skills. My summer internships and recent job shadowing experience have afforded me with professional communication skills and knowledge about how software development teams work together.

Edward Soares, associate professor of mathematics, introduced me to the alumni shadowing program with Mr. Thomas P. Joyce ‘82, president and CEO of the Danaher Corporation. Danaher, a large business in the U.S., coordinates the design, manufacture, and marketing of industrial and consumer products. Its hundreds of subsidiaries use mathematics and computer science in conjunction with many other fields to create products used in biomedical testing, mass spectrometry, and dental imaging systems, among others.

I became interested in shadowing Mr. Joyce because I wanted to learn more about the upper-level management in a corporation that coordinates the manufacturing of technological, chemical, and biological products. I knew that shadowing the president and CEO of such an influential corporation would expose me to fundamental management skills, something that I know is important in any career field.

When I was selected for the shadowing program, I was thrilled at the rare opportunity to observe an industry with which I was unfamiliar.

During my two-day experience, I travelled to Chaska, Minn. with Mr. Joyce on his company plane to attend operations and strategic meetings at Beckman Coulter, a Danaher subsidiary. On the plane, Mr. Joyce and I talked about his career path and my academic experiences at Raytheon BBN Technologies and Holy Cross. I learned about his roles from his first position at Danaher to his tenure as president and CEO. I spoke about my classes in mathematics and computer science and the brain-imaging project that I am pursuing with Professor Soares. Mr. Joyce also gave me some background information on biomedical testing instruments in preparation for the meeting at Beckman Coulter.

While there, I attended meetings with leaders in senior management of both Danaher and Beckman Coulter as they discussed the company’s financial and innovative status compared to other businesses in the industry. Walking into the conference room, I was nervous to meet the top executives, but the feeling diminished after Mr. Joyce introduced me to the attendees. I sat next to Mr. Joyce during the meetings as he quietly explained some basic information from the PowerPoint slides that was needed to understand the ongoing presentation.

We also got a tour of one of the laboratories where a new blood testing machine was being tested. In their Obeya room, Japanese for “war room,” the plans and goals of the project were posted on the walls. This was an example of the Danaher Business System, an effective technique where past, present, and future goals of a project are detailed on the wall so that team members know the project and their specific tasks.

Between the meetings, I got a chance to interact with senior vice presidents of several departments and learned about their various roles, daily tasks, and work life balance. At the end, I came away with some valuable insights about the importance of effective teamwork and the structure of upper management.

I found that the Danaher management system put into action many of the skills I learned at my summer internship. In my past experience as an intern at Raytheon BBN Technologies, my team and I worked on speech recognition and key word search algorithms. During our weekly development meetings, each team member gave updates on their progress. Interning at Raytheon BBN gave me the confidence to work collaboratively with others and excel in a team setting. Under BBN’s team model, I realized the importance of teamwork and communication so that each team member knew the objectives of the coming week.

In the meetings I attended with Mr. Joyce, I saw the teamwork and verbal communication model I learned at BBN employed at a much larger scale to effectively manage a big corporation.

While shadowing Mr. Joyce, I learned a lot about the internal workings of a large corporation. Although my personal career path will start out on a more technical level, I benefited from seeing executives work together to shape a company’s future. The things I learned about the structure of a large company, teamwork, and effective communication will help me serve as a well-rounded team member in the future and make the presentation of my technical work fitting for management to endorse.

The opportunity to shadow Mr. Joyce at the Danaher Corporation provided opportunities for career discernment, which could not be reproduced in an academic setting. The experience to observe business management from a top level showed me leadership abilities that would prove useful in my career path. I hope to manage a team once I’ve gained enough experience in my field.

Shadowing Mr. Joyce gave me an eye-opening model of success that will influence my management abilities. The two days I spent learning from Mr. Joyce and the Danaher Corporation were a highlight in my liberal arts education at Holy Cross.

Written by Olivia Lau ’17

The Alumni Job Shadowing Program

The alumni job shadowing program is a short term observational experience that teams an alumnus/a with an undergraduate to assist the student with his/her career planning process and to give students the opportunity to explore industries and career fields of interest. This program engages students to observe Holy Cross graduates in their organizations for half or one day during one of the four major academic breaks.

  • Students: There are four student application deadlines; learn more and apply by logging into Crusader Connections.
  • Alumni: Find out more information about hosting a student and sign up here.

Learn more about the offerings of Center for Career Development on their website.

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Comments (1)
  1. Enrique Vasquez says:

    What a great experience Olivia…thank you for sharing!

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