5 Questions with Anita Vila

Graduating Class and Degree: BSIE 2001, Ph.D. 2010

Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida

Career Overview: Anita Vila is a product management leader at Amazon Pharmacy, where she is responsible for driving speed, scale, and innovation in the Pharmacy Services Technology portfolio. Before this role, she was the Sr. Director of Product for the Precision Medicine, Research, and Clinical Decision Support portfolio at McKesson and was part of the launch of a new oncology business Ontada in 2020. She has over 15 years of experience in healthcare, including research innovation grants, analytics, consulting, and software delivery. Before her healthcare experience, Anita was a product development engineer at Dell Inc., launching laptops globally.

  1. What is the single most important experience or understanding you gained in the ISE department?  There are so many fundamentals of ISE that have influenced my career and thinking.  If I had to pick one it would be the understanding of stochastic processes – it’s so important to recognize the complexities of decisions due to ever-changing factors. However, I wouldn’t be an ISE if I didn’t love the challenge of taking those realities and coming up with the simplest solution.
  2. What is the most pressing issue facing human society that engineers should work harder to solve? I am probably biased, but I have to pick healthcare.  It’s been 15 years since I started my work in healthcare.  If you work backward from a patient, caregiver or clinician, an ISE would be hard-pressed not to find an opportunity, whether that be disease and treatment modeling, operating room scheduling, hospital supply chain management, I could go on and on. 
  3. What would you like to accomplish in your career?   What are you most proud of so far? My career has not taken a pre-planned or typical path, but a common thread is my focus on building and supporting teams to grow professionally and deliver amazing results. I am really proud of what my teams have accomplished to launch new health businesses and while at NC State mentoring countless students as they navigate undergraduate and graduate programs. 
  4. If you were not in the engineering field, what would you likely be doing? That is a tough question since I’ve been in many fields while still being an engineer! I think I would have found my way into healthcare or education through a non-engineering path.  I am mission-driven and those are two areas that I am passionate about.
  5. What advice do you have for current ISE students? You don’t have to know what you will do 5 or 10 years from now.  Find opportunities where you can learn and be curious, inspire you to deliver results, be authentic, and surround yourself with others that support your career growth.  This mental model has served me well in navigating my career.