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Susan Kilburn, BEngM '92

Engineering Physics & Management | On changing directions

Some students know exactly what they want from life, and march confidently toward it.

For many others however, the destination is less clear. To those students, Susan Kilburn offers some reassuring advice.

“If you’re like me and the future is murkier, keep an open mind and pursue what interests you the most, and don't worry about changing directions several times,” says the 1992 engineering physics & management grad.

It’s advice that has served Kilburn well.

Currently Chief Operating Officer for Lightpoint Financial Technology, Kilburn has worked in a range of technical, marketing, management, and leadership roles over the last three decades.

“I always pursued what was interesting to me, with no real plan about where that was going to take me,” she admits.

“But probably what helped me most in getting to this point was always being open-minded about ‘what's next’ and working in a variety of different roles and in different industries.”

After beginning her career with global giant Xerox, Kilburn left the world of big business to move into a key role with a technology startup.

She followed that with stints in leadership roles with Symcor and Rogers Communications before spending six years as a self-employed executive consultant.

Along with her full-time position with Lightpoint, she’s also served as vice-chair of Burlington Hydro’s board of directors for the last five years. Last year she joined the McMaster Engineering and Management Industrial Advisory Council.

Kilburn says her wide-ranging experience helps make her a more effective COO, as she ensures her company’s various departments remain aligned in working toward executing strategy.

“I love working in software because the field is constantly evolving so it never gets boring,” she says. “I also get to work with some extremely bright and visionary people.”

Kilburn says the most enjoyable parts of her career have involved bringing people to create teams.

“It's very rewarding to assemble a new group of people and build something great together.”


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