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WEX and the Roux Institute: Creating tech-forward career opportunities

Posted July 26, 2022

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In 2020, WEX formed a partnership with Northeastern University’s Roux Institute: a new graduate school tailored to the needs of a growing innovation economy. The partnership includes undergraduate, graduate degree and certificate programming at Roux in data visualization, engineering, life sciences, and medicine. Roux just celebrated its first graduating class in June which included three WEX employees earning master's degrees.

2022 Roux graduates

2022 Roux graduates

Located at the WEX corporate headquarters in the historic Old Port section of Portland, the Roux campus, based only in Maine, opened in 2020, has over 25,000 square feet of classroom and meeting space. Northeastern University designed the campus to offer expansive research labs and teaching facilities for all students working towards completing certificates, graduate degrees, PhD programs, and postdoctoral fellowships in the computer and life sciences fields.

Generous forward-thinking founders: David and Barbara Roux

Class of 2022 marching during Roux graduation

Class of 2022 marching during Roux graduation

Named in recognition of David and Barbara Roux, who generously donated $100 million to help found the school, the Roux Institute is designed around the schedules and demands of today’s working professionals. By nourishing intelligent and driven workers in the pursuit of higher education, Northeastern is working together with WEX and nine other Maine businesses to develop the talent of today’s workforce and strengthen Maine’s economy. The Institute’s mission to cultivate Maine’s workforce and transform the state into a hub for talent development and innovation in tech-forward fields will help bring sustained economic growth to the New England area. Although the partnership encourages people to live and work in Maine, the expanded partnership with Northeastern allows WEXers outside of Maine to take advantage of Northeastern University as well.

Three key research areas

The Roux Institute research areas encompass these three important disciplines:

  • Data Visualization to design, build, and deploy interactive tools and AI for solving real world problems, bridging the gap between human understanding and artificial intelligence;
  • Engineering to build and use physics-based models for exploring novel materials in the design of new devices; and
  • Life Sciences and Medicine to develop models of biological systems in health and disease for new discoveries in human health.

The growth of data science and analysis for business intelligence

WEXer Alaina Cellini celebrating her Roux graduation

WEXer Alaina Cellini celebrating her Roux graduation

WEX seeks to consistently stay ahead of the curve among leading fintech solutions providers and it recognizes data science and applied analytics as key areas of career growth for its employees. With educational opportunities at Roux, WEX employees can take certificate courses or enroll in graduate or doctoral programs to improve their career potential in these fields. Unlike other graduate programs that might interest a WEX employee, Roux offers Maine-based WEXers these programs at a discount, and with the campus smack dab in the middle of WEX’s HQ campus, it’s the perfect opportunity for an employee to take class and attend the workday seamlessly.

Innovation corridor from Portland to Boston

”We are excited about our partnership for many reasons, including the educational fintech opportunities offered to our employees,” said Melissa Smith, Chair & CEO of WEX.  “Being a founding partner with the Roux Institute, we are developing the innovation corridor stretching from Portland to Boston. There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of this entrepreneurial corporate ecosystem.”

The Roux Institute programs are hybrid, offering both online and onsite campus learning opportunities to meet the demands and schedules of the working professional. Best of all, the programs offer real-world experience with co-op employers like WEX - Roux students can take what they’re learning and apply it to real world situations through these co-op experiences. The ten partner businesses offer Roux students the chance to work for them while in school. Additionally, employees of these ten businesses also have the opportunity to become students, grow their skills, and bring what they learn back to their work every day. This allows for a kind of cross-pollination between some of Maine and New England's most successful business endeavors, allowing business leaders to work collaboratively, and for students to find a path towards an enriching career. What results is a supportive business environment for learning, not to mention the global reach of over 275,000 Northeastern University alumni in more than 180 countries.

WEX employees in the inaugural class of 2022

WEX employees were among the inaugural class of graduate students to enroll at the Roux Institute in September 2020, and the company is excited to share news of two of the WEXers who graduated on June 10, 2022:

WEXer Alaina Cellini holding her fresh-off-the-press Masters in Data Analytics degree from Roux

WEXer Alaina Cellini holding her fresh-off-the-press Masters in Data Analytics degree from Roux

Alaina Cellini, Manager, Analytics, at WEX, has long kept it in her sights to earn a graduate degree but the opportunity eluded her. “It was one of those things that I wanted to do but there were always barriers: it was too expensive, I didn’t have time, et cetera.” Cellini took the GMAT and did all the preparation work to go to grad school, but it wasn’t until she came to WEX, and learned about the tuition reimbursement program at the company, that she felt the stars might actually align for her to attend a program. When the Roux-WEX partnership happened and the degree program offered exactly what Cellini was looking for, she enrolled as soon as she could.

WEXer Alaina Cellini celebrating a proud day!

WEXer Alaina Cellini celebrating a proud day!

Since starting the program, Cellini has found daily opportunities to implement what she’s learning at Roux into her work at WEX: “I say all the time that I could not do the job that I’m doing right now had I not gone to school. It’s a really satisfying trajectory because I think sometimes people go back to school and say they don’t use what they learned in school, meanwhile I would learn something the night before and implement that thing the next day at work. There has been a ton of alignment with school and the work I’m doing.”

During her time at Roux, while working full time at WEX, Cellini had to make sacrifices mostly in her personal life because time was tight. Through it all she felt nothing but support from her colleagues at WEX.

Cellini’s degree is a Masters in Data Analytics with a Concentration in Statistical Modeling.

Lindsy Weinreich, HR Business Partner, Global Technology, has also already seen the benefits of her learning at Roux in her work for WEX: “We’re diving into taking a more data-driven approach to a lot of our processes, whether it is promotion cycles, or other HR focus areas. We’ve partnered with the talent management team to help them further develop predictive models and dashboards. Being able to use data to drive some of the decision-making when it comes to people analytics and making sure we’re providing fair and equitable opportunities for WEX employees are two areas where what I’ve learned at Roux has played a role in my work at WEX.”

Weinreich is grateful for the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree while working full time at WEX. “That’s one of the things I love about WEX. I’ve been here for almost 5 years, and I’ve had a lot of opportunities for career growth. I started out in QA, then I moved to project management, then I moved to HR. Not only does the company provide a lot of career growth but also educational opportunities as well, and I think that learning helps advance my career and my skill set to be successful in any role that comes my way.” Weinreich earned a Graduate Certificate in Applied Analytics from Roux in June.

Scholarships and investments

The Roux Institute offers generous scholarships -- at least 20% tuition discount -- to Maine-based employees. The Harold Alfond Foundation has committed $100 million, matching the Rouxs’ founding gift, funding scholarships, programming, and research for Maine residents. All donations are dedicated to innovation, talent development, and business growth to spur the Maine economy, and enrich the lives and skills of workers in Maine.

Personalized career development is at the core of the WEX/Roux experience. Together, the two organizations are helping employees develop and refine skills in any specialty area to foster a culture of lifelong workplace learning and employee engagement at WEX.

“As with everything we do at WEX, the core values of integrity, execution, innovation, relationships and community are guiding every decision,” said WEX CEO Smith. “Creating more innovation means being curious and energized to develop new technology; building relationships means being invested in partnerships like the Roux Institute to offer more opportunities for our employees; and building a better community means being a positive force in our world.”

Sources:
Northeastern
University of Pennsylvania

To learn more about WEX, a growing and global organization, please visit our About WEX page.

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