Infinite Careers is a collaboration between Career Services (CAPD) and the MIT Alumni Association to explore career paths and the non-linearity of career decision making. Read profiles of alumni with unique career paths, hear their stories and network at a series of talks.
- University of Illinois at Chicago, BS Electrical Engineering (2002)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Electrical Engineering MS and PhD (2008)
Natalija Jovanovic is currently co-founder of TNG & Company, a consultancy specializing in pragmatic growth, digital, and data strategies across industries. Previously, she was the Chief Digital Officer at Sanofi Pasteur Vaccines, a $7-billion division of Sanofi. At Sanofi Pasteur Vaccines, Natalija was leading an international cross-functional team in both driving digital innovation and ensuring operational IT excellence. Prior to Sanofi, Natalija delivered a wide range of digital and analytics products as Head of Commercial Solutions at global insurer AIG, and as VP of Innovation at Brown Brothers Harriman, a global commercial bank. She brings consulting and business strategy experience from McKinsey, and is a member of advisory and scientific councils for multiple organizations and startups. She holds a PhD in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked on automotive and aerospace photonic power solutions.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your career?
The most rewarding part of my daily work is coming together with other bright and motivated people to create something new and useful for the world. Many innovations are a long-haul, so it’s also rewarding when we encourage and pick each other up along the way – we all have our down days when a friendly and helpful hand can lift us up.
What motivates you to do the work that you do?
I’m most motivated by the positive impact we can have on the world. In every field of human activity there are people struggling, and with the innovative thinking and wide range of tools and technology we have available today — we all have an opportunity to create positive impact.
Making decisions, especially important-feeling career decisions, is really challenging for people at all stages of their career. What strategies have you used to make career decisions?
The ikigai framework has been really helpful to me and many people I have mentored. It asks four simple questions:
1) What are you good at?
2) Do you like doing it?
3) Is it useful for the world?
4) Is the compensation sufficient for life? It offers a structure for a topic that is often highly emotional and can feel chaotic at times.
How have your career experiences been shaped by intersections of your identity, including but not limited to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, disability, and veteran status?
Yes, very much so. I’m biologically female, immigrant, from a minority country, with family members who are LGBT and veterans. While I see a lot of improvement in how people treat each other with inclusion, this is on-going work in which we all have to continue to educate each other.
What professional development activities do you find really useful these days?
Intersections with different groups and professions. More and more innovations will come from such intersections, and less from deep expertise in an isolated field. So, branch out and make those connections!
What career advice do you have for current MIT students, or those interested in entering your industry?
Keep an open mind, heart, and hand. Mind because to create something new you will need the best of your creative thoughts and persistence. Heart because when we create out of empathy for others, we create the best positive impact. And hand because it’s a long and sometimes hard road – your hand should be open to accept help from others when it’s offered.
Do you have any tips for networking or job searching for current students and recent graduates?
It’s never too early to start thinking about what legacy you want to have from your life and work. It’s also too easy to be distracted by others’s definition of what is success. Defining your legacy that is detangled from external pressures takes time and dedicated effort, so start forming your principles and ideas now.
Do you participate in any volunteer/community service activities? If so, how do you balance your professional and personal responsibilities?
I set aside 1-2 hours per week to pick up trash with Keep Massachusetts Beautiful. It doesn’t take much time, cleans up my city, and keeps me moving. It’s also an experience of humility and service, a useful reminder for today’s world.