Making the Next Generation of Manufacturing

It’s one of the most important, time-sensitive questions facing businesses today. How do you make and sell products that lead to business profitability—without further damaging the environment? Janelle Heslop, LGO ’19, didn’t just tackle this in her graduate thesis at MIT. She’s planning on making a career out of it. 

Janelle Heslop, LGO ’19

It started with youthful passion: Heslop has been vocal about protecting the environment since she was a middle school junior docent at the Hudson River Museum. She has matched her passion with expertise, first at environmental consulting firm GreenOrder, where she advised companies like General Electric, and then at Veolia, the world’s largest environmental services firm. There, she worked with organizations like the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, saving them $150 million and bringing tech innovation to civil servants. 

Heslop decided to pursue continuing education to effect change by furthering her technical engineering education and environmental leadership—spurred on by her father, who argued that she could make a greater impact from within industry instead of outside it. So, she decided to participate in the MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program, earning a dual master’s degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her fellowship was endowed by a fellow LGO alumnus, Augustus “Gus” O. Tai, LGO ’91.
The program includes a six-month internship with an LGO partner; Heslop worked with biotech company Amgen to help them improve their drug manufacturing process. The company was interested in understanding the long-term operational, economic, and environmental impacts of their manufacturing systems and was receptive to her insights and methodologies. As a part of this work, her thesis aimed to help bring about “the next generation of manufacturing.”

She didn’t stop there: While at MIT, Heslop co-directed the MIT Water Innovation Prize in 2019, and was VP of marketing for the MIT Water Club and a member of the Executive Team for the 2017 MIT Water Summit. As a student and young alumna, she co-founded LGO’s Underrepresented Minority (URM) Alumni Group; the participants hope to create a pipeline of diverse talent.

“We are just starting on this journey, but have an amazing group of LGO URM alumni executives who are acting as advisors to us and helping us build pipelines into organizations,” she said in a 2022 MIT News article.

After graduating, Heslop continued her work at Amgen as a senior manager of strategic planning and operations. The company put her at the head of a team determining where their next $1 billion manufacturing facilities would be located. While completing the project, she found her education to be so helpful. “I often visited my notes on location strategy frameworks from the Operations Strategy class that I took with the executive director of LGO!” she said.

“I don’t dream about jobs. I dream about impact,” Heslop explained. “I want to manage, run, and lead projects that are having a meaningful impact in the world, preparing it for future challenges like climate change, and leveraging emerging ideas and innovation to create a healthier, more equitable society.”