2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Eric Montgomery Lucas, Washington University (Olin)

Eric Montgomery Lucas

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

Age: 38

“I am a valued-based, data-driven medical device executive seeking to improve patients’ lives.”

Hometown: McKinney, Texas

Family Members: Rachel Lucas (wife), Stephen and Mary Lucas (parents), Matthew Lucas (brother), Kathryn Lucas (sister)

Fun fact about yourself: I know how to juggle. In our kickoff week of the program (GO! Week), I met another student who also knew how to juggle, Noah Ledbetter, and we instantly connected.

I also like to eat seaweed as a snack. It’s a crunchy, savory snack that is relatively healthy. They sell it in bulk at Costco. Weird or fun, you decide.

Undergraduate school and degree:

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, Indiana, Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering

Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, Master of science and PhD in Bioengineering

Where are you working? Ulrich Medical USA, Vice President of Technology

Extracurricular activities, community work and leadership roles: Avid golfer and member of a golf club (captain of men’s league team)

Beta Gamma Sigma International Business Honor Society

Advisory board member, ORTHOWORLD OMTEC

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I made a point to give every single class my best efforts, even when I was squeezed by work, holidays, and personal life. The sacrifice in free time was real, but I knew I was here for a limited time, and I wanted to get the most out of it. My primary focus was to learn every bit I could from each course and professor and apply it to work (both to improve my work and to reinforce our teachings in such a way that they stuck with me). Of course, I wanted to do well in classes, but I didn’t even realize until the last month of the program that I had earned the highest academic honor. Now that I know, I’m proud of that achievement.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’ve spent the last 12 months helping my firm move its headquarters from St. Louis to a newly-constructed building in Plano, Texas, which required a lot of work above and beyond normal business operations and the MBA coursework. I designed the layout of the facility, and I applied a significant amount of knowledge learned from Operations Management and Panos Kouvelis, Olin’s Emerson Distinguished Professor of Supply Chain, Operations and Technology. I designed our new space to meet our operations needs, matching our physical workflow to our process flow. This was a unique opportunity, and it was incredible to see lessons in coursework translated into a new building layout that improved our business operations.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Washington University in St. Louis offers exceptional, world-class academics, with the added bonus that I did not need to travel far for in-person classes. I knew several current and former faculty members associated with Washington University through my professional career and they had nothing but high esteem for them, making the decision easy.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The biggest lesson for me came from our Organizational Leadership and Influence course with Stacy Jackson. This course focused on leading people within an organization rather than performance in individual technical subjects. Learning about “leading informally” within the “invisible organization” was an eye-opening experience. That course taught us the skills needed to see things that were completely hidden from me previously. It helped me to empower and lift up others within the organization rather than trying to go it alone (something I was guilty of in too many instances). I now take a very different approach to how I approach others in my organization, and it has led to strengthened relationships within and across functional groups.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? The workload does not let up throughout the program. This was particularly apparent around the holidays when juggling work, family and education was most difficult. My wife and I went to visit my parents and aunt over the July Fourth holiday in 2022, which coincided with the end of Corporate Financial Management with Professor Todd Gormley. This was a subject that I was unfamiliar with going in, but it was very quantitative and the type of challenge I personally enjoy (there’s that engineering background again). We were given both a regular final exam and an additional “optional” final exam with more difficult questions. I wanted to spend time with my family, but also wanted to rise to the challenge. So I sat around a pool on my laptop with my family, working on Excel until I finished. They teased me, but after I was done, we had “fun” talking about valuing professional sports players’ multi-year contracts.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Do it. It will be a real challenge, but one that you can never recreate by simply reading on your own or learning “as you go” at work. There are so many subjects that I would have never guessed would be a part of an MBA program. That, in retrospect, is just as (if not more) valuable than reading financial statements. If you are going to enter an EMBA program, make sure you have the will to dedicate yourself to it because you will get out of it what you put into it. Be prepared to sacrifice time spent on personal hobbies and make sure you have the support of your family. My wife, Rachel, was incredibly supportive throughout the program, and I couldn’t have done it without her. Ten-out-of-10, I would do it again.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I had already “gone back” to graduate school once after working three years after undergrad, so I’m not sure there were any “myths” that I had. Going back to school while working full-time, however, was challenging. The Washington University executive program was so supportive, making it easier for us with busy professional lives to dedicate our limited time to learning. I especially want to thank Cory Barron and Darlene Lissone (our program coordinators) for clearing the way for us to get the most out of the program. I liked to take walks around the incredible campus at lunch, and we liked to joke about the Steve Buschemi “How do you do, fellow kids?” meme from 30 Rock. It felt like “going back to school” in some ways, but in other ways, it made it obvious how different things are when you are going to school with an explicit professional purpose.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Between the challenge of the course material and the social time spent with people I easily connected with, I feel that I might have missed even more personal connections. The program included so many driven, accomplished professionals, some of whom offer very different perspectives than my own. Don’t get me wrong, I did spend a lot of time with individuals and groups, but things are always different in a group dynamic. If I could go back, I would try to get to know individuals in more frequent one-on-one settings.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I most admire Rashmi Rathor, a cardiac anesthesiologist at Washington University. Early in the program, we compared thoughts and recommendations on books and found we shared a deeply analytical approach to digesting them. Throughout the program, Rashmi offered fresh perspectives on everything from class material to judgment and advice on work situations I shared. I strongly admire her and her ability to get me to see things from new perspectives.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? When applying for EMBA programs, I felt that Olin’s executive program was best structured for my needs as an industry executive in the frequency of in-person instruction. Additionally, I had read that much of the learning in an MBA comes from your fellow classmates. With an established cohort of professionals, the EMBA program offered coursework with people in similar stages of their careers. In-person instruction and group work were critical components for me.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal?  My long-term professional goal is to either start my own company or run one at the highest level. I believe that the WashU EMBA program has prepared me to work toward that goal in every way.

What made Eric such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“Eric Lucas had the pleasure (or misfortune) of being my very first cold call in one of the earlier sessions that kicked off the Executive MBA for his class. He handled it brilliantly! Later, we were reacquainted in our analytics course, where he simply excelled. It took me a while to figure out he has a PhD (bioengineering) and the mind of a researcher.

Eric asks excellent questions that enhanced the learning of all of us during our coursework together. But he has a pragmatic bent that focused us on how something taught in a classroom could actually be put to practical use. I imagine it would have been great to have had him as a student (colleague, really) in an innovation or a marketing course as well. We will miss having him on campus.”

Samuel Chun, PhD
Professor of Management Practice
Olin Business School


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