Adding an MBA to an Engineering Career Turns Into Executive Success

Timothy Williams, E’06, mechanical engineering, who also earned an MBA from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, has steadily built a career in manufacturing, and now serves as COO at Innofiber by blending engineering skills with business acumen and drawing from three co-op experiences.

Timothy Williams, E’06, mechanical engineering, had initial success as an engineer in the aerospace industry, which he attributes to a series of three co-ops as a Northeastern undergraduate. In 2011, he added an MBA from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business to his portfolio and is now reaping the rewards as COO at Innofiber, a provider of fiber optic cables and engineered photonic solutions.

Williams says Northeastern’s co-op program was so instrumental in his success that he is now developing a co-op program at Innofiber to help provide students with real-world, experiential learning.

He became interested in engineering toward the end of his high school career, and believing he was a little late to the engineering game, he wanted to attend a college with a strong co-op program so he could gain ground with practical engineering experience.

“From the get-go, Northeastern was my number one pick,” Williams says. “I looked at other schools, but none of them offered the same type of education.”

Williams completed three co-ops, beginning with a job in the manufacturing department at AMETEK Aerospace and Defense. He considers this experience as pivotal because it laid a foundation of engineering basics that he relies on to this day.

“I remember not knowing what a bill of materials was, or understanding part numbers and drawings,” Williams says of his time at AMETEK. “I learned so much.”

A second co-op took him to Pollak, an automotive company that was eventually acquired. He was assigned a role in the new products group, which produced a high volume of automotive supplies and where he learned about product testing and quality control.

He then returned to AMETEK to complete his third co-op, which he did in the engine sensors design engineering group. “I really, really loved that experience,” Williams says. “I learned all about configuration management and I did a ton of engineering changes, which is also a fundamental skill.”

Williams was hired full-time at AMETEK as a mechanical design engineer when he graduated in 2006. He initially planned to pursue a master’s degree in an engineering program, but he grew increasingly interested in the business side of the company and its varied career paths.

During this time, a friend from his undergraduate days suggested he look into the MBA program at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. He was intrigued enough to apply. “It was a last-minute decision, and my undergrad grades helped me get in,” Williams says.

While in the MBA program, he gravitated towards the operational aspect of business and thought a fast-paced, multi-tasking environment would suit him. When he completed the program, he first landed a job as operational commercial engines model manager at Pratt & Whitney and while he thrived in that environment, he determined he would be best suited for smaller companies.

“I like seeing the results of the hard work that I put in and being able to make change quickly,” Williams adds.

Williams worked for several aerospace industry companies, increasing his responsibilities at each turn. As his career progressed, he had an opportunity to attend training with Shingijutsu in Japan, which teaches the philosophy of Kaizen, or continuous improvement, and how to apply it to business environments. The experience contributed to continued career success, including his role running business operations for multiple Whitcraft Group divisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I tied the engineering background with my MBA background and then the Shingijutsu training was the third piece that tied it all together,” Williams says.

Eventually, he reconnected with Dustin Gorman, a classmate from the Northeastern MBA program and CEO of Innofiber. They developed a professional relationship and friendship, and Williams was hired as COO in 2023. He has found that his engineering background has helped him build solid relationships with Innofiber’s engineering team.

He hopes to have a co-op program set up by 2025 and looks forward to mentoring Northeastern students.

“I really loved my experience at AMETEK because I was surrounded by engineers who were great mentors and teachers,” Williams says. “I would not have excelled as fast as I did without them.”

“I feel it is my duty to give that same level of effort back,” he adds.

Related Departments:Mechanical & Industrial Engineering