UB alum credits education, mentors and family for spot on 30 Under 30 list

Briana Tom stands in the center of what appears to be a storage closet with tanks of what may be chemicals.

Briana Tom (BS & MBA ’17) at Harper International Corp. Photo: Tom Wolf

By Peter Murphy

Published April 11, 2024

Briana Tom (BS & MBA ’17), Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering alum and sales engineer with Harper International Corporation, was named to Buffalo Business First’s 30 Under 30 earlier this year.

“I cannot stress enough that UB is a world-class institution. In my role, I work with engineers and MBAs from all over the world from different universities and everyone is always impressed when I tell them where my degrees are from. ”
Briana Tom, Sales Engineer and alum (BS/MBA '17)
Harper International Corporation

According to Buffalo Business First, the 30 young professionals were selected from nearly 100 nominations and were considered on the following factors: career achievements, leadership and initiative, community engagement, and each nominee’s potential to become a community leader on a grand scale.

Tom credits three additional factors: her education, mentors and family for helping her reach this achievement.

In her current role, Tom works with a range of organizations from startups to blue chip companies to help them reach both capital expenditure and operational excellence goals. She provides custom engineered solutions for the thermal processing of advanced materials like batteries, technical ceramics, carbon fiber and similar materials. Tom gained both a technical background and management skills as part of the University at Buffalo’s five-year joint BS Chemical Engineering/MBA program, something she credits with helping to shape her life.

“I cannot stress enough that UB is a world-class institution,” Tom says. “In my role, I work with engineers and MBAs from all over the world from different universities and everyone is always impressed when I tell them where my degrees are from.”

Tom also credits her mentors—both at UB and Harper International—for their guidance in helping her learn more and establish future goals. Her family’s impact on her life and career are significant, and one of the reasons the recognition means so much to her.

“This accomplishment is so special to me because it is a tribute to my parents,” Tom says. “My mother immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child, and my father is a first-generation American. My mother’s side started off working a newspaper stand and my father’s side a Chinese hand laundry business. It was always drilled into me that we could accomplish anything. Without their sacrifices, I wouldn’t have been able to receive this recognition.”

Tom has maintained a connection to UB, specifically as secretary of the Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association and as a member of the association’s Awards/Philanthropy committee and the school’s Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) committee.

“As part of the executive committee, I work with the team to enhance our organizational structure and provide feedback to the school,” Tom says. “Our Awards/Philanthropy team evaluates applications every year to distribute scholarships and nominate a short list to the E-board of Engineer of the Year candidates.”

Although WiSE was in its infancy while Tom was a student at UB, she has become involved and helped shape the organization since graduating. Last year, Tom, as part of the WiSE committee, created the first WiSE and Thrive event that brought together engineers at various stages of their careers and WiSE students. The event started off with a panel discussion where the working engineers shared their experiences with the students. The program was capped off with round robin sessions where students could ask alumni questions.

This year, Tom and the WiSE committee collaborated with the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to co-host the UB Doct-HERS event, which brings together female physicians, scientists, health care professionals, faculty and students to support future generations of women in medicine and science. The committee is also in the process of planning the second WiSE and Thrive event and plans to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of WiSE, happening this year

“Our goal is to build out our network and provide more support for all the female engineering alumni that we have,” Tom says.