Monday, January 2, 2012

Sergey Naumov, SDM '11, Co-Leads MIT's Career Fair

By Cody Romano

Sergey Naumov
Sergey Naumov, SDM '11, was one of just two graduate students chosen to lead MIT's 2011 Career Fair. Volunteering as the event's employer relations director, he arranged for 300 organizations—including McKinsey, Exxon Mobil, Pixar, and the CIA—to visit the MIT campus during a week in late September—all while fulfilling his responsibilities as a father and a full-time System Design and Management (SDM) Fellow.

To build relationships with employers, Naumov spent eight months emailing, calling, and meeting face to face with company representatives. At the same time, he contributed to the career fair's website and participated in weekly planning sessions with a team of other students.

"Sergey is a natural leader who's always smiling and has a way of making people feel comfortable," said SDM Director of Career Development Helen Trimble, who identified Naumov as a candidate for the leadership role.

In addition to co-leading the MIT Career Fair team, Naumov personally addressed some of the concerns expressed by students and employers. For company representatives who wanted to size up attendance, he compiled a report of demographics from past years. For students worried about vying for an employer's attention, Naumov designed an online networking system that allowed job-seekers to make an impression without waiting in line.

He also worked to meet the specific needs of SDM job-seekers, who face a different challenge than most undergraduate students: as experienced technical professionals, most are seeking mid- to upper-level positions, while employers at career fairs typically recruit for entry-level jobs. Aware of this dynamic, Naumov lobbied for SDM students to moderate company panels. This allowed 18 students to network one on one with executives from such industries as aerospace and business consulting.

Naumov attributes the success of the career fair to effective teamwork and systems thinking. By collaborating regularly with others in his cohort via Skype and social media, he enhanced his leadership and communication skills and used them to build important relationships for MIT and SDM. Meanwhile, the holistic mindset that Naumov developed in classes like Systems Architecture allowed him to prioritize tasks more easily and strategically.

Although these lessons benefited Naumov, his duties as a full-time student, a researcher, and a dad made managing the project an even greater challenge. In addition to taking 14 courses since the spring, Naumov has worked as a research assistant for MIT's Chrysler Leaders for Manufacturing Professor Charles Fine, focusing on technological competition and developing computer models.

Originally from Moscow, Naumov and his daughter moved to Lexington, MA, several years ago. Before joining SDM, he was head of information technology for Akku-Vertrieb Ltd., a Russia-based battery manufacturer. After he graduates, he plans to work as an information technology project manager for a firm such as Google or Microsoft, where he will apply lessons learned from SDM and from planning the MIT Career Fair.

"My experience planning this event reinforced the necessity of carefully managing large projects and the importance of what I learned in SDM about project management, leadership, and teamwork," explained Naumov. "If the time is short and the project is really large, the success of your team depends on strong knowledge in all of these areas."

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