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DBT40 Honoree: Sandhya Thiyagarajan

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Age: 26
Product Quality Engineer, DuPont Electronics & Imaging (Newark)

What her nominator said about her: Sandhya shows enormous aptitude and trajectory to bring long-term value to DuPont across her career, or wherever her future endeavors will take her. Very early in her career, she has already completed high-impact projects to improve profitability and reduce variability and manages relationships with Fortune-500 companies. She demonstrates a proficiency for execution and results while maintaining good relationships and smooth workflow. Sandhya has demonstrated leverage of her skill and experience to navigate difficult very challenging responsibilities. She has skillfully and smoothly tackled technically difficult problems that require cooperation across several work groups to solve. Her leadership through influence and example engages these various teams and functional areas to work smoothly together to reach the goal. I also would like to see her recognized as an inspirational example for others of how to set goals and standards as to what can be achieved.

Professional accomplishments:  In only four years, Sandhya has made a significant impact for DuPont Electronics & Imaging in Newark. In her first role, one of the site’s manufacturing processes was wasting a lot of material that had to be discarded. Sandhya identified and implemented an optimized method for the splitting process that is more sustainable for the environment and ultimately led to a total savings of $1 million. She received an internal gold award for this project. Her next major achievement was a chemical engineering project where she implemented improvements which reduced flow variability by over 150%. Additionally, she helped design the overall piping system and worked with the data systems group to implement closed loop control.

Leadership examples: Sandhya led DuPont’s Newark site Women’s Network for two years, and just recently stepped down from this volunteer position to allow another colleague an opportunity for development. She credits her upbringing for making STEM fields accessible to her, but recognizes that for a lot of young women, they might not even consider studying or working in STEM areas, because they don’t see enough women leading by example.

This was actually one of Sandhya’s personal motivations in joining DuPont Electronics & Imaging’s quality team — she challenged her own internal mindset of who a quality engineer was, and became one herself, while also hoping to pave the way for other colleagues to explore career areas that were not originally on their radar.

Community service: She has volunteered locally with Junior Achievement, teaching grade school kids how to manage their finances and run a bank. She has also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, building homes in Middletown, Delaware. She was also part of the team that hosted the Delaware You Be the Chemist challenge at the DuPont Newark site, a regional event in which students compete to answer questions on chemistry topics, and a state winner is identified to represent Delaware at the national competition. Sandhya has also worked with local high school students through a job shadowing program, giving students opportunities to see what different STEM careers could look like.

Tell us a few things that aren’t on your resume or your LinkedIn profile: I am a trained classical Indian singer, and have performed all over the country, including at a prestigious competition in Cleveland, Ohio. I am also an avid “foodie,” and love baking, cooking, and trying new restaurants. For our anniversary, my fiancé and I held our own version of a Chopped competition.

What was your favorite work moment in the past year? When we had to have a tough meeting with a customer. We were working to solve a performance issue and it required problem solving from many cross-functional groups. It was a valuable experience working with so many different teams and we were able to have a really productive conversation and partner with our customer to find a solution. It was a good growth opportunity for me.

Sandhya along the Positano Coast, Italy

Where are you most at ease? I am most at ease spending time away with my close friends and family. The trip I look forward to most every year is going to my friend’s family lake house in Wisconsin with my two best friends from college. It’s a weekend full of jet skiing, kayaking, and playing with her dogs!

Guilty pleasure? My guilty pleasure is re-watching the Harry Potter movies. I loved growing up with them and my roommate and watch them together every fall.

Go-to song for karaoke: My go to karaoke song is “I Want it That Way” by The Backstreet Boys – “Millennium” was the first album I ever bought!

Family and education:  Sandhya lives in Wilmington and graduated with a BSE in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently engaged to her fiancé, Ankur, whom she met at Penn.

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