Recognizing Alumnae for International Women’s Day & Women’s History Month
March 8, 2017

Today is International Women's Day (IWD), an internationally recognized celebration and commemoration of women's rights, and March is Women's History Month.

We recently profiled one of our favorite female historical figures, Lillian Gilbreth, the first woman to speak at Cal graduation and a Cal alumna who can be considered to be one of the earliest industrial engineers.

To honor International Women's Day, the Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research (IEOR) is highlighting a few of our outstanding IEOR alumnae below.

Selina Cai

Ph.D. 2012
Currently: Assistant Professor, New Jersey Institute of Technology

What are you currently working on?
Research in Operations Management

What is the most important thing you learned while studying at Cal?
Be an independent and critical thinker

What do you miss most about being a student at Cal?
Access to amazing libraries

Do you have any advice for current IEOR students?
Understand the impact of our field on the fast evolving business world

Who is your favorite female historical figure and why?
Marie Curie, she has always been an inspiration figure to me because of her dedication to science and to her work.

Today the engineering workforce is composed of only 13% women. How does industry need to change to attract more women?
Having more flexible hours and less of a "up or out" career path


Shan Li

Ph.D. 2010
Currently: Assistant Professor, Baruch College, City University of New York

What are you currently working on?
After graduating from Cal in 2010, I started off working for Amazon as an operations research scientist in Seattle, to drive the performance improvement of Amazon's giant supply chain network. I also worked for Philips and American Express in NYC before I took a tenure-track faculty position at Baruch College (CUNY) in the heart of Manhattan in 2013. Currently, I do academic research in the areas of Behavioral Operations Management, Marketing-OM interface and Healthcare Operations, and teach undergraduate core course of Service Operations Management and Management Science.

What is the most important thing you learned while studying at Cal?
How to overcome and learn from failure.

What do you miss most about being a student at Cal?

Do you have any advice for current IEOR students?
It is a long-road ahead but to keep working hard and never give up.


Theresa Roeder

Ph.D. 2004
Currently: Associate Professor, San Francisco State University

What was your first job ever?
Probably babysitting!

What did you do after graduating from Cal?
I spent a year visiting at UC Davis, then started my current job at SFSU.

What are you currently working on?
I do two types of research. The more practical side consists of often smaller projects that address a specific issue in my classes (e.g., assigning students to groups) or with student learning (e.g., the effectiveness of different types of peer evaluation feedback). More theoretical projects harken back to more to my student days, where I look at simulation enrichment or predicting how long to run Integer Programming problems in order to get "good enough" solutions.

What do you miss most about being a student at Cal?
The constant intellectual stimulation, and hanging out with my friends!

Do you have any advice for current IEOR students?
Try to take as much advantage as you can of all the amazing opportunities a campus such as yours affords you!

Cynthia Tran Tillo

B.S. 1997
Principal Product Manager at Adobe

What did you do after graduating from Cal?
I actually started my career at Hewlett Packard's semiconductor facility as a full-fledged Industrial Engineer.  This involved conducting manufacturing process cycle time studies, implementing Kanban, and modeling queues.  The one noteworthy thing I remember: we hired IEOR Professor Rob Leachman as a consultant for our fab and I got to approve his timecards!

What are you currently working on?
I have the fortune to product manage a portfolio of amazing solutions within Adobe's Marketing Cloud.  Chances are when you online shop and need to zoom into or customize a product, it is powered by my solution. Being a product manager leverages everything we learn  in Industrial Engineering around optimization techniques.  A good product manager is a master at optimization - balancing the often complex and competing demands of Quality, Scope, and Time.  Optimizing feedback from a variety of sources - customers, sales, competitors, market - and being able to synthesize into something meaningful.

What do you miss most about being a student at Cal?
The optimistic vibe of the University where students truly feel that anything is possible. Those late nights in the dungeons of Etcheverry where we cranked away on projects and built lifelong friendships.  And the eclectic genuine culture that you could feel just walking down Telegraph.

Do you have any advice for current IEOR students?
Get involved in extracurricular activities that provide you an opportunity to develop leadership skills and foster team collaboration. Once you move into the working world, your success is no longer dictated by your GPA and grades, but rather your emotional intelligence - how you are able to influence others, resolve conflict, and lead teams towards a common vision.

Paula Lipka

Ph.D. 2015
Short-term Electric Supply Team at Pacific Gas & Electric Company

Read more about Paula's work at PG&E here.




Michelle Fisher

B.S. 1986
Founder/CEO at Blaze Mobile

Michelle is a holder of nearly fifty patents, and has worked for large companies such as Microsoft and Pacific Bell (now AT&T). In our in-depth profile, we learn Michelle's tips for the patent process and about her journey to found her own company, Blaze Mobile.