A Chat with Meena Vem ‘08

Anargyros Kriezis ‘22
achellakere 

Who is Meena?

Meena is a member of Olin’s 3rd class, and graduated with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  She has had some interesting experiences since leaving Olin, starting with her first job as part of an engineering rotational program at Rockwell Automation.  After 3 1/2 years, she moved to Amazon Robotics, and then took a break from the working world to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business school. After Harvard, Meena returned to Amazon Web Services, spent a short time as Sr. PM at LendingHome, and is now Director of Product Management at Veo Robotics.

 

Why Harvard, and why an MBA?

Meena decided to pursue an MBA as the focus of her work at Amazon Robotics evolved, and different skills were required.  Compared to her experience at Olin, Meena found the program at Harvard much more structured -- it really made her miss Olin’s DIY approach in the early years.  Yet she has since come to appreciate the breadth of subject matter she was exposed to over her two years at Harvard Business School. Curriculum choices aside, one thing both programs share is the do-learn, application-based rather than textbook-based approach to pedagogy -- this is really something that drew Meena to the program.  

 

Tell us about your current job, Veo Robotics

As Director of Product Management, Meena is excited to be able to help Veo Robotics transform the world of manufacturing with products that incorporate 3D sensing to intelligently control industrial robots.   In other words, Veo Robotics uses computer vision to help robots work more collaboratively with people on the manufacturing floor.

Oh yes, AND their management team is 50% women!  Read more about the company as well as the benefits of “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations” on their blog featured here.  

 

What is special about the Olin education?

“One skill I picked up at Olin that I have come to appreciate more and more over the years is the ability to adapt and operate comfortably in contexts with a lot of ambiguity,”  Meena explained. Olin’s project-based and experimental classes allowed her to understand how to solve problems, even when there was no straightforward path to the solution. Especially during the first years at Olin, when classes were not structured the same as in other universities, and students had to try things, to experiment, to find new solutions to problems.  

Even at Amazon where there is an established  way of doing things, early product development and working with a first few customers require decisions without a complete set of information.  This is even more true at an early stage company like Veo Robotics. In a product role, this takes the form of not only deeply understanding the customers you already have, but also making informed estimates based on your read of the market and other variables.

Advice for Current Students?

“Olin gives you  many opportunities to explore - academics, in terms of classes on and off campus, extra-curricular activities and just getting to know and learning from your amazing classmates.  Be open, try many things!”

And one other thing.  Meena also recruits now for Veo Robotics, and has a bit of advice on the job search. “Wear a collared shirt!”  Like it or not, people that don’t know you in the outside world will tend to judge you, at least initially, based on easily visible attributes. Even in a workplace that is casual, putting in a bit of effort to be put-together and prepared for an interview is worth your time. Think about the company and the role, think about how you want to present yourself and what questions you might want to ask ahead of time. This gives you a bit of control over at least one or two variables in the interview process.

 
Posted in: Alumni Speak; Olin Employers; Entreprenuership