2017 Best EMBAs: Doug Larratt, UCLA (Anderson)

Doug Larratt

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

“I thrive working on teams which are committed to a mission much greater than themselves.”

Age: 52

Hometown: Thousand Oaks CA

Family Members: Wife, Bernadette (for 24 years!) and daughters Stephanie (age 22) and Megan (age 19)

Fun fact about yourself: My daughters are both UCLA Bruin undergraduates. There is a healthy report card competition around our house at the end of each quarter – I’m not normally the winner!

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S., Mechanical Engineering, U.S. Naval Academy, 1986.  M.S., Aeronautical (Avionics) Engineering, Naval Postgraduate School/U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, 1994. M.A., National Security and Strategic Studies, Naval War College, 2001.

Where are you currently working?  enior Program Director, Orbital ATK

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

Served as a Naval Officer for 21 years as a carrier-based aircrew, test-pilot, and acquisition program manager (logged 2260 flight hours in 26 aircraft types and 501 aircraft carrier landings). NASA Astronaut Candidate Finalist (1998). Numerous military service medals and decorations including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Strike/Flight Air Medal (2 Awards). Currently serve in Aerospace Industry leadership role as a Senior Director for development of aerospace/defense systems.

For Community Service, I currently serve as Co-Chair (with my wife Bernadette) of the UCLA Parents’ Council, a 150 member parent volunteer organization sponsored by the UCLA Office of Parent and Family Programs with the mission of providing direct support and engagement for UCLA’s diverse and global family of students. Our Council members have participated in more than 100 activities and events this past year supporting UCLA students and families for move-in, Family Weekend, welcome receptions, summer orientations, admissions, and outreach events. In addition to these activities, the council acquires funding and donations for a care-package program to support student veterans, students with children and former foster youth. The Parent Council organization was just awarded the UCLA Alumni Association 2017 Network of the Year Award in recognition of our contributions to the University.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I was selected as a 2016 John Wooden Global Leadership Fellow this past fall.  It was very humbling to receive this UCLA Anderson award in honor of Coach Wooden’s leadership legacy.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my first aerospace industry leadership role following my retirement from the Navy, I had the privilege of leading a large product team in the final three-years of nine-year engineering development contract for a major system carried on the FA-18 Hornet aircraft. We deliberately and successfully moved a stalled project with technical, budgetary, and schedule challenges through final development, qualification, production transition, and fielding milestones. It was a major team undertaking and I am very proud that we delivered a game-changing product which our aviators are flying in the field today.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Entrepreneurship and Venture Initiation. The course gave me a completely new perspective and framework for managing and inspiring innovation and development.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I don’t want to be the overt pitchman, but you asked the question! It is the UCLA Anderson brand which permeates and inspires everything we do. “The Optimists.” “Think in the Next.” “Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.”  Its real…across the faculty, the students, the alumni, the curriculum…I wanted to be a part of it.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? My interactions with classmates; The richness and diversity of their backgrounds and experiences. The experiential learning through the case study format with these brilliant and committed professionals was inspiring.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? Pursuing an Executive MBA is not an individual exercise if you are balancing both family and a full-time job. You must build a support network within your work, your family, and your classmates. It is not something you will accomplish alone! I’ve studied several times in the library with my daughter!

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s executive MBA program? Work closely with and trust the admissions staff. They know what’s required for the school and will help you with placement and fit. Secondly, observe several classes, make contacts with current students, develop relationships, and ask questions to prepare – do not be shy. My classmates and I love helping candidate students – it is part of paying it forward!

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had the bandwidth to take more elective classes. I took many extra electives, but with a full-time job, I discovered my redline at two extra classes per quarter! I had classmates who took sabbaticals or quit their jobs during the curriculum to take full advantage of the elective opportunities – I was jealous!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are many first-generation immigrants in my class with amazing stories of courage, challenge, and success which brought them to Anderson.  They bring a passion for learning, a richness of experience, and a level of diversity which enriches and inspires the class. I truly believe that these folks know and understand better than anyone the foundational principles on which our great nation was founded.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I’ve aspired to do it for many years, but I decided to wait until I was an empty-nester to maximize my time as a father.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…less fulfilled. I would not have the rich friendships or the amazing educational journey that are my Anderson education.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? If you want to be inspired by a company and a leader with boundless passion and commitment to a most noble mission, you should look up Derek Herrera (UCLA Anderson EMBA ’15) and Spinal Singularity. Seriously, stop reading about me and look up Derek.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the executive MBA experience? I don’t have a major complaint.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term goal is to have a positive impact, but to also enjoy the journey.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’ve had many mentors, supporters, and friends for whom I’m very grateful, but the person who makes me is my wife, friend, and soul-mate, Bernadette. I’ve served a very demanding career, with multiple long aircraft carrier deployments and multiple duty stations where she sacrificed as the stay-at-home mother for our daughters. We are a team. I don’t succeed without her.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A trusted friend and teammate, someone they can count on when the going gets tough.

Favorite book:  We just read The Great Gatsby for a leadership ethics course. The context for reading the book this time around gave me a whole new perspective.

Favorite movie or television show: 42. Not necessarily the movie itself, but Jackie Robinson’s story. What a hero.

Favorite musical performer: Live music. I enjoy all genres.

Favorite vacation spot: Hawaii! We lived there for three years during my Navy career. It is very special.

Hobbies? I love cycling and ocean sailboat racing. Last summer I was a helmsman and watch team lead on my 6th Newport-Bermuda Ocean race.

What made Doug such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Doug Larratt enrolled in the UCLA Anderson Executive MBA program in fall 2015 with a resume already packed with a career’s worth of achievements. He was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Naval flight officer, test pilot and veteran of multiple carrier deployments with over 21 years of service in the U.S. Navy. Larratt has flown through post-Gulf War oil fires in Kuwait, helped evacuate refugees from a volcanic eruption in the Philippines, and logged in 2,260 total flight hours in 26 different aircraft and 501 carrier landings. When he came to UCLA Anderson, Larratt had already earned two Master’s degrees – one in Aerospace Engineering and another in Strategic Studies, and was very clear about why he was pursuing an M.B.A: “You can never stop learning,” he explained “I didn’t come to make a career transition or jump. It’s an opportunity to continue to grow.”

Today, Larratt is a program director at Orbital ATK, where he manages design, development, and production of major air-launched missile systems. His current project, the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile–Extended Range, is the next-generation missile for FA-18 and F-35 JSF aircraft. The blue and gold Larratt most often sees these days are not on a uniform; these colors decorate the Bearwear belonging to UCLA students. Both of his daughters are undergraduate students at UCLA, and Larratt and his wife serve as Co-Chairs of the UCLA Parents Council—a university-sponsored organization that supports Bruin students through volunteerism and mentoring. He says being a father has also taught him leadership lessons. “When I first had children, I learned things can be gray. Children don’t care about your rank. As a leader, you have to commit to something greater than yourself. You use that to inspire the team.”

George Ingersoll
Associate Dean of Executive MBA Programs