A well rounded approach

Manufacturing Systems Engineer, Johangel Figueroa, shares his story about how he ended up working with MES and covers all angles of what it’s like to work as an NNE engineer.

How did you get your job in Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) at NNE?

After spending five years focused on process development and technology transfer, I began working with MES in my third job, which was actually for a key NNE customer in North America. My educational background is in industrial biotechnology, which may be seen as unconventional for a field typically staffed by computer science engineers, but I believe my background helps me bring a different perspective to MES projects.

In my experience, our customers are looking for something that makes their lives easier. Therefore, as an MES engineer, I need to translate their requirements, wants and “nice-to-haves” into a working system. In order to do this well, I believe one benefits from business experience, an understanding of what the customer does on the floor daily, why they are implementing MES and subsequently, what problems might accompany the implementation. I think a more rounded approach is required to be a successful MES engineer.

NNE excels in this rounded approach, as many of my colleagues have a wide range of competencies. Of course, where there are knowledge gaps, I can always reach out to the global network with technical questions; something that based on personal testimonial, our customers truly appreciate as well.

How is  working at NNE different to your previous jobs?

In my time at NNE, I have worked on four main projects in the US, Brazil, Denmark and currently Canada. I enjoy this variety as I didn’t experience it at my previous jobs. But with this variety, a good engineer must be flexible enough to know that each project has its own unique challenges. You must listen to the customer and study what they need and want, while understanding that this can change drastically from project to project, day to day or hour to hour.

As a consultant, I like to focus on constantly providing our customers with value, which can be extremely challenging when combined with constantly changing requirements. Hence, once you’re on site, try to understand the customer’s expectation, in challenging times, focus on presenting options and overall, be as objective as possible if conflict ever arises.

When it comes to consultative engineering, I would again suggest that you are flexible in your work, but also in your personal life. This is not required for the job, but it certainly helps. For example, I have travelled multiple continents and gained exceptional international experience and knowledge-sharing – something I could not boast had I been inflexible.

I must mention that in the two years I’ve been at NNE I have had many mentors. The value of mentorship and leadership here cannot be understated. I encourage anyone joining to participate in mentorship. Furthermore, I have participated in competence development training. In all, I believe the combination of mentorship, development training and international opportunities make NNE an ideal workspace for those looking to develop their career.


  • Johangel Figueroa has a Bachelor’s degree in industrial biotechnology from the University of Puerto Rico
  • He then obtained a Master’s degree in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University
  • Prior to joining NNE he worked in Puerto Rico, Indiana and then in North Carolina, managing the Werum Pas-X software for an NNE customer
  • Johangel worked for two NNE customers before being recruited to NNE in 2013
  • His focus area is the Werum Pas-X software but beyond the actual application, he works with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, validation, modification of SOPs, and with identifying customer’s business needs and how they translate into integrated MES/ERP systems

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