As They Collaborate to Develop Surgical Robots, One Graduate of Northeastern’s Gordon Institute Helps Another

Students who participate in the Gordon Institute of Engineering Leadership program are trained in team-building, leadership skills, and the importance of people skills and conflict management, which can be crucial components to finding a leadership position.

This article originally appeared on Northeastern Global News. It was published by Ian Thomsen. Main photo: The Gordon Institute for Engineering Leadership strengthened Amine Belarbi by teaching him “to be vulnerable.” Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Northeastern University graduate Richard Bedard was seeking to hire an electrical engineer to help develop robotics for surgical procedures when he came across an application of unusual promise.

The applicant, Amine Belarbi, was departing a company for which Bedard had worked for 15 years.

“So I knew exactly the type of work he did, the type of products he supported,” says Bedard, director of product engineering at Siemens Healthineers. “I figured that he was a really good fit for the role that I needed.”

Then he learned that Belarbi was studying at Northeastern for a master’s degree in electrical engineering while also participating in the Gordon Institute of Engineering Leadership at Northeastern, a year-long certificate program that trains up to 45 students annually in team-building and leadership skills.

“Which is also a program I went through,” Bedard says. “So then he escalated right to the top of the list of people I wanted to hire.”

By enrolling at the Gordon Institute, which helps broaden the perspective of engineers and tech specialists to embrace the views of colleagues as well as customers, Belarbi was acknowledging the importance of people skills and managing conflicts. Based on his own experiences at the institute, Bedard realized that Belarbi was being trained in skills that would be crucial in his new job.

“I initially signed up for the Gordon program because I was in a leadership position but I didn’t feel like I had the skill set to be successful,” says Bedard, who attended the institute while earning a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at Northeastern from 2012 to 2014. “I was a technical expert, a subject-matter expert, but leading a team was new to me. And I knew I wasn’t doing very well at it but I didn’t have an idea of how to make improvements.”

In Belarbi’s role as senior advance electrical manufacturing engineer at Corindus Vascular Robotics, a startup within Siemens Healthineers, the keyword was advance: To help perfect products before they hit the market, Belarbi would need to collaborate with a variety of colleagues while encouraging everyone to see beyond the scope of their individual responsibilities.

Which was to say that Belarbi—with the mentoring and support of his new boss—would be putting to use the lessons of the Gordon Institute.

“I always wished I had the tools, the knowledge, to have influence and deal with conflict resolutions,” Belarbi says. “The Gordon Institute was transformative for me because of my lived experience.”

Born in Algeria and raised in France, Belarbi’s dream was to build his career in the U.S. He had been working in Boston for almost a decade when he realized that his desire for self-sufficiency—a self-made man taught to reject help and support as signs of weakness—was limiting him.

“I couldn’t go beyond what I see in myself. I was restrained in my own world,” Belarbi says. “One thing that I’ve learned from the Gordon Institute is to be vulnerable.”

Read full story at Northeastern Global News

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering, Gordon Engineering Leadership Program