64 ISE Magazine | www.iise.org/ISEmagazine
with Amanda Mewborn
Amanda Mewborn is vice president of Facilities
& Support Services for Atrium Health Navicent in
Atlanta and president-elect of IISE. As executive
director for project management for Piedmont
Healthcare in Atlanta from 2015-2020, she led
the development of a downtown hospital building
expansion. In 2018, she earned distinction in
Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under Forty
Award” recognizing achievers making a mark in
their industries and communities. She earned a
bachelors degree in nursing from Georgia State
University, a bachelors degree in industrial and
systems engineering and a master’s degree in health
systems both from Georgia Tech. She is a licensed
registered nurse and a certified Lean Black Belt
from IISE. She has held numerous positions with
IISE, including senior vice president of technical
operations (2017-2020), Board of Trustees Finance
and Audit Committee chair (2018), and president,
director, conference chair and diplomate for IISEs
Society for Health Systems. She has been an author
and columnist for ISE magazine.
What’s
Your
Story?
How did you begin your ISE career?
I switched majors from chemical engineering to industrial and
systems engineering in my junior year after exploring internship
opportunities and finding that chemical engineers often work
alone in small towns, and the paper plants smelled bad. All are petty
reasons, except for the work alone reason – I enjoy collaborating
with others and chemical engineering wasnt a fit from that
standpoint. I selected ISE because my father had done ISE-type
work and enjoyed it, and I liked the opportunity to collaborate
with others to solve complex problems. My first job was at a
healthcare performance improvement group, where I followed
in the footsteps of two incredible ISEs, Adrienne Dickerson and
Mary Ellen Skeens.
When did you choose to focus on healthcare
process improvement?
I chose healthcare as my path while enjoying chicken tenders at
Juniors Grill at Georgia Tech. I was having lunch with a sorority
sister, Mary Ellen Skeens, who was majoring in ISE, and she told
me about the benchmarking work she was doing in healthcare.
I didnt have any idea what benchmarking was and she patiently
explained it to me and told how it made a difference for patient
care. I was hooked. At the time, I had been interviewing for jobs in
many different sectors of ISE and I was inspired by the opportunity
to make a difference in healthcare, something we all need at some
point in our lives.
What are some challenges you faced
during the pandemic?
I did an IISE Problem Solved podcast on this topic (link.iise.org/
podcast_s1e21). In general, the pandemic brought about huge
opportunities for healthcare ISEs to make a difference. Some
examples included supply chain management (PPE), process
redesign for providing care virtually, analytics to forecast
volumes, stafng analysis to facilitate redeployment of clinicians
and logistics for vaccine administration. I think the biggest
challenge was stafng of front-line workers such as nurses and
respiratory therapists, but also the support services team members
such as environmental services and food services. I’m incredibly
grateful and inspired seeing the way that people stepped up and
I’m incredibly grateful and inspired seeing the
way that people stepped up and helped out in
ways they probably never expected. Seeing people
willing to do anything to help others really
helped me cope through the pandemic.
May 2021 | ISE Magazine 65
helped out in ways they probably never expected. Seeing
people willing to do anything to help others really helped
me cope through the pandemic.
What have you learned from
your IISE leadership roles?
IISE is a safe environment to build nontechnical skills such
as leadership, emotional intelligence, conict resolution and
communication. I have learned about strategy and brand
development as well, areas uncommon for ISEs. Ive also
attempted to learn patience, but that hasnt made as much
progress as I’d like. One of my favorite learnings is how to
network and build a community of professional colleagues
who are also friends. Having a strong network has been
especially helpful when considering job transitions, as I’ve
found it’s all about who you know, not what you know.
Every job in my career has come to me through my
network.
Why did you decide to seek
the presidents position?
When I was encouraged to run for president, I had a flurry
of emotions. I was flattered, excited about the opportunity
to make a difference, and a little scared thinking about lead-
ing such an incredible organization through such a chal-
lenging time. The pandemic has hit many businesses hard,
including IISE, and serving during a time of transformation
and change will be incredibly important, engaging and fun.
What better way to give back to the profession I love!
What are some of the challenges faced
by the ISE profession?
There’s an old saying that there are no challenges, only
opportunities. We cannot control what happens to us, but
we can control how we react. ISEs have never had as much
opportunity to make a difference in this world than they
have right now. The pandemic has uncovered countless
roles of ISEs who were often silent heroes lurking in the
background. Almost every facet of ISEs’ body of knowl-
edge has contributed to enduring the pandemic. The spot-
light on supply chain professionals is an example; there is
a lot more to procuring necessary supplies than people
realized before the pandemic. As nurses were on the news
wearing trash bags as PPE and sharing the lack of N95
respirators, supply chain professionals solved the complex
problem. Our biggest challenge remains recognizing and
promoting the impact of ISEs and broadly conveying ISEs
contributions. This is one of the pillars of IISE’s strategic
plan: Strengthen. Specically, we need to communicate
the value ISEs brought during the pandemic and help oth-
ers connect the dots on how to use our skills to continue
to make this world better going forward.
How is the Institute positioned
to be a leader in this era?
IISE is the only international professional organization sup-
porting ISEs. With a mission of serving those who solve the
complex and critical problems of the world, I can think of
no better position for IISE to be in than to serve ISEs sup-
porting response to a pandemic!
Who has most inspired you
on your career journey?
I learn something from almost everyone I meet. It would be
impossible to name one person who inspires me most. Mis-
ter Rogers was quoted as saying, “When I was a boy and I
would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to
me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who
are helping.’” I am most inspired by the helpers, whether it
be someone helping a person injured in a car crash to simple
acts of kindness.
– Interview by Keith Albertson
ISEs have never had as much opportunity
to make a difference in this world than they
have right now. The pandemic has uncovered
countless roles of ISEs who were often silent
heroes lurking in the background.
Our biggest challenge remains recognizing
and promoting the impact of ISEs and
broadly conveying ISEs’ contributions.
This is one of the pillars of IISE’s strategic
plan: Strengthen. Specifically, we need to
communicate the value ISEs brought during
the pandemic and help others connect the
dots on how to use our skills to continue to
make this world better going forward.