Last Saturday, my friend Lin Htet (CE ’18) and I had the privilege of having lunch with senior Burmese GT alumni. Ms. Saw Marlar Soe (IE ’06, second from right) and Ko Zeya Aung (MSCS ’18, far right). Lin Htet and I had a great time asking Ko Zeya and Ms. Soe about industry conditions and trending skills in demand within Myanmar–through our conversations, we learned a lot about current industry opportunities and challenges in Myanmar for returning international graduates, and had a lot of productive discussion about Ko Zeya’s idea of a microfinance program for Myanmar students interested in an online masters’ degree, as he himself benefited from the highly ranked Georgia Tech CS Masters program offered online at a fraction of the price of an on-campus degree. Ko Zeya also described his decision to continue on with graduate school and how he plans to apply what he learned in his field of work in the near future.

Ms. Soe described her time at Tesla as an industrial engineer in detail, such as the difficulties presented in optimizing a challenging production line, and even recalled a hilarious (in retrospect) encounter with Elon Musk himself. According to her, however, the technical challenges back then were not nearly as vexing as the multifaceted issues she presently tackles as a senior management leader in Myanmar. Coupled with the family balancing act of raising young US-born children in Yangon, I am almost certain that Ms. Soe applies optimization techniques (most likely kanban at least) to her daily schedule as well. Of course, as is unofficial tradition between ME and IE Yellow Jackets, Ms. Soe and I also recalled how MEs and IEs at Tech would be major-bashing each other (“IEs are Imaginary Engineers!”) in good fun.

I definitely look forward to having more productive discussions with my seniors at some point. Maybe next time I can ask Ms. Soe some details about kanban and the broader subject of the Toyota Production System (TPS) that is widely adopted and emulated in manufacturing, seeing how it directly pertains to a course I took very recently