At Ansys, Aleksandra Egelja-Maruszewski leads tech services
Her services group helps company account managers sell the software by showing customers how best to use it to improve their products
Dr Aleksandra Egelja-Maruszewski grew up in Bosnia but earned her undergraduate degree in Croatia and a PhD in Germany. Today she's senior regional technical manager for Ansys (Canonsburg, PA). She works in the Evanston, IL office overseeing a huge territory: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Kansas.
Ansys develops, markets and supports engineering simulation software used to predict how product designs will behave and how manufacturing processes will operate in real-world environments. "The engineering industry is changing," Maruszewski believes, because more and more products are being developed and tested with computers. "It greatly decreases the time it takes for products to come to market. What used to take months is now days in some cases!"
Maruszewski cites the Chevy Volt as an example. General Motors used Ansys fluid dynamics software to simulate aerodynamic performance. Engineers there were able to run several hundred airflow configurations over a weekend unattended, she reports.
Tech services a specialty
Ansys is divided into a variety of departments including product management, software development, marketing, and tech services, which is Maruszewski's area. "Tech services does a lot of work with business development, helping the account managers sell the software. We work with customers, showing them how to use the software to improve their products."
After the sale her group provides customer support. "If they run into problems, we help to resolve them. We also work with marketing to understand new apps that are coming in so we can partner with our customers."
The team provides best practices and new simulations, as well as consulting services for customers who want to know more about the technology, taking their technical requests back to product management.
In addition to customer interface, Maruszewski still does a lot of technical work herself. "My way of managing is to be a role model for my team," she explains with a smile. "I mentor, but I'm far from micro-managing."
Most of her time at Ansys today is involved with autos, the industry she knows best. Her team at Ansys includes eight direct reports from five countries: the U.S., India, Iran, Ireland and Serbia. Three are women. Most of them have PhDs and they all know how to work independently. "Once they've reported to me, they don't want to report to anyone else," she says with pride.
Most of Maruszewski's own time is spent with customers. She's out of the office two days a week visiting clients and prospects. "I'm not the kind of person who can stay sitting still," Maruszewski says with a smile. "I have to have challenges in my life."
Growing up in a small city in Bosnia, Maruszewski learned the value of education and hard work from her teachers and parents. She went to the University of Zagreb, Croatia for a 1991 undergrad degree in ME. "Only five to ten percent of my university classes were women. People would look at you if you were a woman, and one of the best, and wonder, 'How do you do it?'"
Maruszewski went on to the University of Erlangen (Nuremberg, Germany) for a 1997 PhD in ME. "Once you receive your doctorate you've shown that you can do the job and there are no problems anywhere. I feel very well-respected," she says.
She stayed in Germany as a research scientist for two years, then came to the U.S. in 1999. Her first job here was software development at Argonne National Laboratory (Chicago, IL).
Later she worked at Fluent, Inc, a global provider of computer-aided engineering (CAE) simulation software. Through a series of engineering and consulting jobs at Fluent her work evolved from developing software to a focus on customer-facing activities.
Into business development
In 2006 Ansys acquired Fluent, and Maruszewski moved into business development and client relations, while managing teams of engineers designing for industries including nuclear, materials, metals, chemical, construction, semiconductor and biomedical.
In the past four years she's worked with the University of Illinois to find candidates for her team. "Right now, in addition to a good engineer, I am looking for someone with good interpersonal skills who can talk with customers," she explains.
Maruszewski enjoys being connected to many parts of the organization and enjoys the chance to help anywhere she can. She's a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), attending trade shows and seminars to help keep up with the industry.
So far, Maruszewski prefers the customer service side of her career. "My passion is working with customers, understanding their needs and communicating them back to the product team. I like what I'm doing, but I'm always looking ahead.
"Ansys is a growing company and offers wonderful opportunities. Women are encouraged to move into executive roles. I don't know exactly what the future holds, but when I know that I have done everything I can in this job, I will be ready to look for the next challenge."
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