Whitman at Work: Dual Degree Program Helps Recent Grad Carve Out Career Opportunities Combining Business, Engineering

headshot of Patrick Riolo

Whitman at Work: Dual Degree Program Helps Recent Grad Carve Out Career Opportunities Combining Business, Engineering

Patrick Riolo ’20 (ECS), ’21 MBA always had an interest in health care, and a desire to create things that “would give value to people.” This led him to pursue a degree in bioengineering at Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. However, the entrepreneurial atmosphere he discovered on the University campus led him to the Whitman School where, in his sophomore year, he decided to combine engineering and entrepreneurship through the H. John Riley Dual Engineering/MBA Program. Today, this up-and-coming professional is using both skill sets as a marketing leadership development program associate at Hillrom, now a part of Baxter International Inc.

Established in 2017, the H. John Riley Dual Engineering/MBA Program, a 3+2 dual degree program, allows students to earn both a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the ECS  and an MBA from Whitman in just five years. Riolo knew the dual program would help him “grow into a well-rounded candidate” in the job market by combining his interests in engineering, medicine, business and entrepreneurship. He excelled in his collective interests and was encouraged to pursue an internship with the New York State Science and Technology Law Center at the Syracuse University College of Law. There, he was part of a team working on intellectual property, market research and regulatory issues for outside clients.

“A few of the projects we worked on involved medical devices, which I found especially interesting,” Riolo says. “The duality of my skills allowed me to work on reports that gave people guidance not only to find success with their innovative products but also to give value to the world, and that was cool to be able to deliver to an actual client.”

The experience, along with his background in bioengineering and business, paid off even before Riolo graduated, as he received an offer for a two-year marketing leadership development program with Hillrom—a global manufacturing medical device company which, after his hire, was acquired by Baxter International Inc., one of the world’s leading medical technology companies. In his first of three eight-month rotations, he worked in upstream marketing in the frontline care business unit out of the Skaneateles Falls, New York, branch of the company. While the skills he learned were invaluable, he also appreciated the opportunity to see firsthand how a large acquisition happens.

Next, Riolo rotated to the second part of the development program, located in Chicago. There, he is working in downstream marketing with the Hillrom Latin America marketing team; their projects include primary research looking at heart procedures and learning how clinicians in countries like Mexico commonly monitor for hypertension and other aspects of heart disease. Downstream marketing is new to him, he admits, but Riolo is eager to absorb the information and make himself more marketable through the experience.

At the end of the two-year development program, he is hopeful that there will be a permanent place for him at the company and sees the acquisition by Baxter as a chance for even greater opportunities.

“Being able to put my many interests and experiences to work through the dual program with the Whitman School and ESC  has already opened up so many opportunities for me as I integrate myself as a new, young professional,” Riolo says. “I’m eager to see what the future holds.”