Christine Meier, SDM ’13: Diversity, Organizational Transformation, and Systems Thinking

Christine Meier By Lois Slavin, SDM Communications Director
April 19, 2013

Ask Dr. Christine Meier, SDM ’13, about ongoing themes in her career and her response will be brief and emphatic: "Diversity and a desire to help others".

Diversity is evident both academically and professionally. She holds a Ph.D. in human factors psychology from the University of South Dakota and an M.S. in educational research from West Chester University.

Moreover, Meier has worked in a wide diversity of settings, including Fortune 500 and 1000 companies, the U.S. federal government, a start-up, and a company of one that she founded. Often her roles involved technical, managerial, and/or leadership responsibilities. And the industries ranged from health care, financial services and mining safety to computer manufacturing and enterprise software.

The other theme of Meier’s career, helping others, is illustrated by her ongoing work in ergonomics, specifically mitigating repetitive motion disorders and making software accessible to users with disabilities. Her intention to serve humankind has become an ever-increasing emphasis in her career choices over the years.

For example, take Meier’s work at Ameriprise Financial. Hired to lead an already fully mature program to reduce repetitive stress injuries, she collaborated with the General Accounting Office (GAO) on an in-depth investigation of the program, which the GAO later identified as one of the five most successful programs in the U.S.

Meier said that the GAO found common elements that each program shared: management commitment; employee involvement; identification of problem jobs; training and education; and medical management. These later formed the basis for ergonomic Occupational Health Safety and Health (OSHA) regulations. And Meier subsequently adapted several elements for inclusion in an accessibility program at BMC Software that she created and led and for a program she developed from the ground up for Unisys.

Having already earned doctoral and masters degrees and made significant contributions in diverse business arenas while helping others, why would Meier return to academia for yet another degree? And why SDM?

"Virtually all of my understanding concerning enterprise design and transformation has been through on-the-job experiences, so the SDM curriculum will provide specific, state-of-the-art methodologies and tools taught by expert MIT faculty," she said, adding that she is currently a research assistant for Professor Deborah Nightingale’s Enterprise Architecting course. "I look forward to learning about and employing a systematic, systems-based approach for enterprise transformation that, along with my past experiences, would enrich my future work and provide exceptional value to my next employer. SDM’s focus on the technical, managerial and leadership components of success, as well as the opportunity to work on team-based projects with SDM fellows who, like me, have significant experience, offers exceptional opportunities".

And not surprisingly, given her focus on helping others, Meier added an excerpt from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention that is one of her guiding principles:

"When you work hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. No. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."

Christine Meier
Photo by Dave Schultz