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As Director Strategy and Project Management for Medtronic, the work that UMD alumni Michael O’Connor does on a daily basis makes positive impacts on the health and wellbeing of people all over the world.  Medtronic is a global healthcare solutions company committed to improving the lives of people through medical technologies, services, and solutions. Michael works in their operational headquarters located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “For me, the real passion of being in project management at Medtronic” stated O’Connor, “is being able to turn innovative ideas into actual products, having these products implanted into patients and then seeing and hearing how it has positively impacted their lives.” 

“I remember working with a patient at a [veterans affairs] hospital who had malignant cancer that affected his esophagus. He and other patients faced huge challenges in trying to do even the simplest things, like try to swallow water,” O’Connor stated.  “We inserted this first-of-its-kind, covered, self-expanding esophageal stent and this patient sat straight up and drank a glass of water and said, ‘That’s the first time I’ve been able to do that in a long time.’ Those type of experiences are extremely heartwarming – that we can take products, give them to people and make their lives better.”

 The photo above is the world’s first leadless pacemaker that has been developed by Medtronic.  It is a big innovation that will have tremendous impacts to modern medicine. 

O’Connor graduated with his Doctorate in Project Management from the University of Maryland’s Project Management Center of Excellence in May 2104. Living in St Paul, Minnesota while earning his PhD meant that O’Connor pursued his studies completely through UMD’s online program and he was impressed with the ease of doing it.  “The technology used for the online courses was easy to navigate and work within to get the results I needed. Every time I had a question or a concern it was resolved in a very timely manner and as a project manager that meant a great deal to me.”

While O’Connor has worked at Medtronic for nearly 14 years, his academic background is unique. After first pursuing two years of engineering, O’Connor earned his bachelor’s degree in business, while at the same time also attending a vocational school which allowed him to acquire hands-on engineering experience. He went on to earn a Master of Science (M.S) in technology management from the University of St. Thomas engineering school and then earned a second M.S. in project management from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.   

When asked what he thought about UMD’s Project Management Program, Michael had this to say: “It is an honor to be accepted into the Project Management Maters or Doctorate program at the University of Maryland.  It is an elite program that would only further enhance any current project manager’s toolkit. The courses are well thought out, great instructors, and great support staff. Completing my studies at UMD had a large impact into my current success. Not only has the course work been beneficial, but also the networks I had created while I was at UMD have been a positive asset for me.  I have stayed in contact with many faculty, staff and students since graduating. The program also has very good networks to important external organizations like the Project Management Institute (PMI). I also find it helpful as a graduate to be able to attend the annual Project Management Symposium which furthers my learning and networking experience as a UMD alumni. I am proud to have graduated from the Project Management Program at UMD. I work at a very large technology company (about 88,000 employees) and when I say I graduated from UMD, I can tell that people know the school and its great reputation.”

Posted by Kathy Frankle on September 14, 2017