5 Questions with Neil Brittian

Hometown: Conover, NC
Graduating Class: BSIE ‘94
Career Overview: Neil Brittain began his career as an industrial engineer working for companies like Michelin and AMP. From there he held several management roles with Eaton Corporation. Brittain left manufacturing and spent a few years as a consultant, before joining the healthcare industry with Novartis. Over the next 11 years, he worked in the human pharmaceuticals business before moving to human resources. After a stint with Ennis-Flint, Brittain returned to Novartis and relocated to Basel, Switzerland where he currently handles global leadership development.

What is the single most important experience or understanding you gained in the ISE department?
The breadth and depth of the IE curriculum, incorporating both business and engineering perspectives, coupled with my practical work experiences, instilled in me a “continuous learning” mindset. I credit this as the key to my success in working across many industries and geographies.

What is the most pressing issue facing human society that engineers should be working harder to solve?
As engineers, and in particular, industrial and systems engineers, we have a responsibility to design sustainable business systems that effectively integrate both human physical and psychological factors with ethical technological innovation in a manner that is profitable, environmentally-supportive and cognitively comprehensible.

What would you like to accomplish in your career?
What are you most proud of so far? At this point in my career, I am far more concerned with the impact I can have on society and those around me. I am truly honored and humbled to be part of an organization that is reimagining medicine and bending the curve of life for millions of patients.

If you were not in the engineering field, what would you likely be doing?
Oh, that’s an easy question! I would own and operate a winery and vineyard in the Tuscany region of Italy. My wife, Deanna and I have been avid wine collectors for some time now, and the thought of cultivating and crafting our own vintage is very intriguing.

What advice do you have for current ISE students?
When you leave NC State with your world-leading analytical capabilities, I would encourage you to consider two things …1) Never stop learning! Be focused on being part of challenging and inspiring work, and 2) Continue to develop your self-awareness and interpersonal skills.