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Ileana Lacatus Ibbett B.Eng.M. '02

Making your lucky break

Many people wait for opportunity to knock. Ileana Lacatus Ibbett isn’t one of them.

In fact, she not only chased down opportunity for herself, she helped dozens of classmates land their first jobs.

A graduate of McMaster’s first Software Engineering class in 2002, Lacatus Ibbett was president of the Software Engineering Student Club when she recognized that opportunity wasn’t knocking.

“It was a great program, but because it was a new program, companies weren’t posting jobs for software engineers on the student job site,” she says.

Stepping up to fill the gap, she launched a software engineering symposium that brought companies into the university to connect with students.

“A lot of companies took it seriously because they were excited about the program and our professors had such a good reputation,” she says. “I was thrilled to see so many Software Engineering students receive internships and full-time jobs as a direct result of the symposium.”

The symposium connected her with medical device manufacturer Guidant out of Minnesota and launched her career. Six years with the company took her from software engineering into project management, and eventually returned her to Canada in a marketing role.

Today, Lacatus Ibbett is Director of Marketing with medical device company Medela Canada.

While the company is well-known for its line of consumer breast milk pumps, it also has hospital-grade products. The marketing department needs to connect with retail businesses, hospitals and consumers, she says.

“What I really love about my current job is the breadth of responsibilities and the types of customers I get to work with.”

It’s a role that has given her the opportunity to market through social media and other digital spaces, as well as to launch Medela on Amazon.

While her career has evolved and shifted since those university days, she still thinks students are well-served by chasing down and creating their opportunities.

“Get involved,” she urges. “I think that’s really important, especially in today’s digital world. Think about the kinds of transferrable skills that employers are looking for, like communication skills, critical thinking, teamwork and leadership, then get involved in activities that help you develop those.

“You never know what connections you’ll make and what skills you’ll need down the road.”