Category: PEMBA Graduate Profiles
“In high school, I was both the jock and the dork,” says Jason Issertell (PEMBA ’12). “Football season ended around Thanksgiving, just in time for FIRST Robotics season.” The FIRST competition is a battle between teams of high school students to see who can build the best robot using sophisticated engineering principles. Jason was the captain of his school’s FIRST team, as well as an all-star football player. “Robotics competitions in high school were like sports for dorks,” he says with a laugh.
“The connection between all the things I love is the competition behind them,” he explains. “In sports the competitive aspect is obvious, but even with engineering, we didn’t just build robots; we competed against other schools for the best robot.”
“For the first time, I worked on the engineering and the business side of things, which really opened my eyes.”
Growing up in Merrimack, New Hampshire, Jason spent a lot of time building forts in his backyard. “I really love building things. It’s been a theme for me from the beginning.” After he entered the University of Rhode Island, majoring in mechanical engineering and playing football, he realized that his two loves were both full-time commitments, and academics eventually won out.
Jason theorizes that it’s his love for competition that drives him in business too. But he can pinpoint his business interest even more specifically than that. He tells the story of how he joined General Electric as an aircraft engine design engineer after a stint as a mechanical engineer at General Dynamics. At GE, where he works as a team leader, he joined a project with an unusually large scope for someone in his position, involving considerations like profitability and cost reduction that were new for him. His cross-functional team created a way to use robotic technologies to make parts, saving GE significant time and money.
“For the first time, I worked on the engineering and the business side of things, which really opened my eyes to all the other aspects of a business I’d been missing. I realized that engineering was directly connected to all of them, and that, taken as a whole, they ultimately fueled business competition in the market. I liked that.
“In engineering school, you always stay within the box of engineering. That project sparked my desire to earn an MBA in supply chain management. I wanted to take it to the next level.” Thus he joined the BU MBA program as a part-time student.
In his spare time, Jason is an avid East Coast surfer, obsessed from the first time he ever touched a board. Yes, you read that right—an East Coast surfer. He surfs all year long in New England waters, keeping warm with high-tech wet suits. “When I first started surfing, I told myself that I’d stop in October when it starts to get cold. But then I put on some extra layers and kept going. Suddenly it was December and I thought, ‘Well, spring isn’t too far now.’ I just can’t tear myself away.”
If Jason’s fantasy career of owning a business that produces high-tech sportswear and equipment becomes a reality, he may not have to tear himself away from anything he loves.