Innovation and opportunity lured Elizabeth Hagerman back to Indiana

The decision to start a new job often stems from a desire to move up the ladder or find a better opportunity. After spending more than 10 years in Los Angeles, Elizabeth Hagerman found herself moving out and moving up in her career — and back to Indiana.

“I thought I’d be in LA forever,” said Hagerman. “But Rose-Hulman Ventures offered me an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.”

Born in Indianapolis, Hagerman’s childhood was spent growing up in various Midwest cities. She spent elementary school in Columbus, Ohio, middle school in Zionsville, Indiana and high school in St. Louis, Missouri. She landed back in Indiana for college, choosing Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology for an undergrad degree in chemical engineering.

After graduating in 2000, Hagerman chose to look outside of Indiana for graduate school. “I wanted to spread my wings and look for a big school experience,” she said. She was accepted into UCLA’s PhD program in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering, where she completed both her masters and doctoral degrees.

Hagerman stayed in California going to work for Baxter Healthcare, where she joined the research and development team to produce technical assessments for the company’s mergers and acquisitions.

“I provided the technical angles for the products my company was acquiring and was also able to recommend solutions for managing the mergers effectively. It was a really good experience right out of graduate school because I got to work with all kinds of people and I felt like I was applying my biomedical knowledge in a meaningful way,” said Hagerman.

When Baxter acquired an orthopedic biomedical materials company from the United Kingdom, she leaped at the chance to assist because the company’s products related to her graduate research.

“I switched jobs to become a medical affairs manager and acted as a liaison between the R&D team that developed the product and the surgeon who was the end user. They needed someone who could translate the messages between the technical aspects of the product to marketing and sales teams and end users,” said Hagerman. This was the perfect opportunity for her to use her scientific knowledge and understanding of the business of developing new products.

Her work wasn’t going unnoticed. In 2012, she was offered and accepted the job as Vice President of Rose-Hulman Ventures, a successful product design, rapid prototyping and development firm located on the Rose-Hulman campus where they partner with companies in need of innovative technology-based solutions.

When Hagerman told her friends and family that she was moving back to Indiana, they superimposed their assumptions on her about why. “A lot of people were shocked because it was an abrupt choice. They thought it was because I wanted to be near my family, or start my own family in a state with more affordable cost of living. It is possible for a girl in her 30’s to be motivated by her career. I was able to come back to Indiana and advance my career more effectively than if I stayed on the trajectory I was following,” said Hagerman.

That Hoosier Humility often puts us at odds with our ability to attract and retain skilled talent. Boasting an affordable cost of living can be one part of the strategy, but we should first recognize the innovation that’s happening here and show it for what it is. “This is a place where I think Indiana needs to challenge itself a little in its underlying assumptions,” said Hagerman.

Now five years in, Hagerman has accelerated Rose-Hulman Ventures’ path and continues to envision new ways to help students and client companies achieve their goals. She is also a member of TechPoint’s board of directors and partners with us to ensure that our talent programs match the needs and desires of Rose-Hulman students.

Do you know someone looking to make a career move back to Indiana? Hoosier graduates may sign up for TechPoint’s Talent Network to get plugged into job opportunities in growing Indiana technology companies.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

CATEGORY: Education Technology, University CITY: Terre Haute

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Sara Croft is the director of communications at TechPoint. She writes about Indiana tech companies, jobs, people and events. Reach out to Sara @saraelysecroft.