Q & A With MIKEL President, Kelly Mendell

August 6, 2019 | Categories: Blog


From her first years of employment, to current President of MIKEL Inc., to future vision

Q: So, where did you go to college? What did you study?

A: I attended UMASS Amherst and got a BS in Industrial Engineering and went back part time when I was working at Gillette to get an MBA at Babson College

Q: Do you have any memorable college experiences?

A: I mostly remember it being really hard and being really broke! 

Q: What was your first job? What was it like? Was it easier or more difficult as a woman?

A: I was hired as an Engineer at Polaroid for my first job.  I had to do a presentation as part of my interview to a staff of high level engineers who would eventually become my mentors and colleagues.  I worked for a group of engineers from various disciplines that were responsible for building a new manufacturing plant for Polaroid’s high resolution media.  My job was to help design the layout of the facility, work on the AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) System that transported the large rolls of film around and just all around learn about manufacturing.  I had a great experience there, because the people I worked for really cared about doing a good job and teaching me.  I was the only woman, but I was also the youngest member by about 20 years, so I was an oddball, but because of the genuineness of the group, never felt that way!

Q: What products or services does MIKEL provide?

A: We develop undersea warfare products and perform engineering services for the US Navy.  We have expertise in the undersea domain and the submarine systems used by our Fleet.  Because of this unique experience, we are able to provide a high level of service and subject matter expertise as well as new, innovative ideas and technology to the US Navy.

Q: When did you start MIKEL? Was running a company always your goal?

A: I started at MIKEL in 2003.  I always wanted to use my education in a strategic way and my leadership qualities to do something challenging.  I really like making a difference and being able to see the results of my efforts in anything I do.  Leading a company gives me that.

Q: Where would you like MIKEL to go in the next 5 or 10 years?

A: I want to attract and retain high quality people to help me develop truly innovative technology for the Navy.  I hope to position our company as one of the top providers of engineering services in the US.  I hope to provide an environment for our employees that is challenging and fun.  I want people to feel valued and worthy.  I want to promote comradery and community. 

Q: What kind of employees does MIKEL hire? What do you look for in your employees?

A: People who care – about the quality of their work and our company’s credibility. People who want to work hard and help others.  People who are in it for something bigger than themselves, to make a difference for our Navy and our company.

Q: Where is a good place for potential hires to meet MIKEL representatives?

A: We attend local university career fairs, we participate in submarine conferences and symposiums.  Just submit your resume to our site!

Q: When you’re not running MIKEL, how are you spending your time? Do you watch TV? Do you read? If yes to either, then what do you watch/read?

A: I like to work out during my free time, which is minimal. I do lots of different exercise from running to yoga and it gives me peace.  I do watch the Real Housewives, too!

Q: What has been one of your proudest moments at MIKEL?

A: I’m not sure there is just one.  Taking a risk and having it be worth it.  Promoting someone and seeing them shine.  Winning a major new contract.  Seeing our technology produce results.  Hearing people laugh.  Seeing them hug each other at one of our functions.  It’s the best.