On Nov. 13, Jennifer Wuamett returned to McDaniel as the featured guest in the latest SmartTALK. Wuamett graduated with highest honors from Western Maryland College in 1987 with a degree in biology and chemistry, and earned her Juris Doctorate from Arizona State University in 1995, graduating second in her class. She is currently the executive vice president and general counsel of NXP Semiconductors, one of the leading semiconductor manufacturers in the world.
Following introductory remarks by President Roger Casey, Wuamett gave a 15-minute address encompassing her career achievements and describing how McDaniel’s liberal arts core allowed her to explore and develop her professional interests.
“When I came to the Hill, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up,” Wuamett said. “I knew I liked biology and I knew I liked art, so my mom suggested I become a biomedical illustrator.”
She credited her college experience for teaching her the ability to reason critically and to resolve issues creatively.
“McDaniel helped me become a problem-solver, a curious and open-minded adult, with a range of interests and opinions,” she said.
In addition to speaking about the professional benefits she was able to attain as a result of her time at McDaniel, Wuamett used her talk as an opportunity to speak about the relationships she was able to make.
“I still treasure all my memories from my years here on the Hill,” she said. “Those were quite formative years for me. They gave me a great foundation on which to not only build a successful career, but a great life as well.”
Following her talk, Wuamett engaged in a 45-minute Q and A session with Casey, with questions supplied by the audience prior to the event. There was one particular question about how her gender had played a role throughout her career.
“As a patent attorney, I was used to being the only woman in the room,” she responded. “I am today still the only woman on the management team at my company. There are seven executive vice presidents and I’m the only female. As I’ve gotten further in my career, I’ve felt some sort of obligation to try to be a mentor for other women in the company.”
An overarching theme throughout the event was Wuamett’s emphasis on grit and hard work.
“Things aren’t going to come easy in life. You have to be willing to accept that sometimes things aren’t going to work out,” she said. “In a culture of instant gratification, you forget that sometimes you just need to slog through things and take your time. You’re not going to succeed overnight.”
At the conclusion of the event, Wuamett left students with one piece of advice.
“You don’t have to have it all figured out right now,” she said. “As much as you might have it figured out, life has this interesting way of laughing at our plans and finding ways to throw us in different directions.”