2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Matthew Lutch, Duke University (Fuqua)

Matthew Lutch

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

Age: 33

“Hardworking, honest, impatient, committed, compromising, and collaborative teammate eager to learn from anyone.”

Hometown: Milton, MA

Family Members: Elizabeth (Spouse), Victoria (2 years old), Jack (7 months)

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been falsely accused of violating Queen Alia’s International airspace.

Undergraduate School and Degree: United States Naval Academy, B.S. in History.

Where are you currently working? USMC, MV-22B Instructor Pilot. Departing Active Duty service this summer.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Dad duties, Equal Opportunity Representative, Men’s league hockey

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I co-founded a discussion series titled “Bridging the Gap”, which related military topics to address the “civil-military divide.” This was one way I knew I could contribute to a fantastic cohort with so much to offer. I received much positive feedback during the discussions, but I was continually surprised by the insight from my civilian classmates on topics that were traditionally out of their comfort zones.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was selected for and completed my Night System Instructor (NSI) Qualification. Serving as an NSI allows you to be a massive force multiplier to the unit; it broadens your professional experience as a pilot, offers abundant learning opportunities, allows you to have a significant impact on a younger generation of pilots and officers, and demonstrates a level of trust between you and the Commanding Officer.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Alon Brav—his intensity, which can be startling for some at first, sets the tone for purposeful, insightful, organized, and (sometimes unintentionally) hilarious discussions.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? Ultimately, I chose Fuqua for the school’s incredible reputation. Before deciding on the executive program, I spoke to a colleague a year ahead of me. He was thoroughly impressed with the program coordinators’ abilities to create inclusive atmospheres to help promote relationships among the students. The work was primarily remote, but our relationships were deep and lasting.   

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Marketing is more than sales. To those in the marketing field, this may seem obvious, but I was clueless as to how different aspects of marketing have affected my past and current decisions in the Marine Corps. As you might imagine, orders from your boss in the military are dictated to you, not sold. But creatively framing an operational plan’s price, place, and promotion can be the difference between a superior choosing your proposition and a waste of time and effort drafting a proposal that goes nowhere.   

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? To no one’s surprise, I am not a ballroom dancer, but ABC’s Dancing with the Stars was a lifeline for my sanity and my relationship with my wife. We would record the show when it aired on Mondays and watch it on Thursdays of the same week. It became a protected time during the week to try to do anything to not think about business school or work while reconnecting with my wife, who was juggling 99% of everything else. Trifectas, win/place/show bets, and other wagers (i.e. first dancer to get a perfect score, first person to cry on live tv, etc.) were also involved in encouraging our good-natured trash talk throughout the week.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Know your “why” before joining an executive MBA program. Top EMBA programs offer so much content, so many options and extracurriculars, and so many programs, which are all very enticing even in a hybrid format. Don’t chase everything. Know why you want the degree and be selective with your time. Otherwise, you’ll go down too many rabbit holes. Your time during these programs quickly becomes your most highly valued resource.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? Maybe not the biggest, but the aspect that most surprised me about the EMBA was how much I would learn from my classmates. This was a stark contrast to my undergrad education, where the professor’s voice held ultimate authority. All the professors understood the various backgrounds of the students they taught. They would not only include their testimony, but would often seek their opinions and tailor their lesson plans to use the talent and experience organically present in the classroom.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I enjoyed the process more. At times, I was more concerned with what I wanted to do with the degree and not always appreciating the experience in the moment.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Peter Grossi. Peter was one of the first people I met in the cohort and was on my first team. Aside from being one of the smartest and most genuine people I know, Peter is incredibly generous with his time, despite his day job and responsibilities as a family man and father of two. Peter has incredibly high standards for himself and does a tremendous job leading by example. A silent professional who still finds balance to have a good time with some good wine, I always admired Peter for his “why” to choose to get his MBA.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I knew I wanted a more immersive program than a purely online or part-time program, but I needed a venue that would still afford the flexibility to complete it while on active duty. The EMBA program was the best mix of flexibility and in-person, real-time learning experiences.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My first foray into the private sector has thrown enough curveballs that I haven’t looked much past the next three to five years, but there are two guide rails I’ll use to further define my long-term professional goals.

Looking back on my work experience now, I notice one common thread: I was often put in a position where I had to learn something new. Whether I was learning how to fly a new aircraft or managing another shop in the squadron, each new position was an opportunity for growth. I will always want to find a role that allows me to learn and grow in the same manner.

Secondly, I want to look back at a career that supported a worthwhile mission. Of course, the mission is much different now—I am not directly supporting and defending the Constitution in private civilian life, but that does not mean there aren’t exciting opportunities in many industries to support the freedom of ideas, information, and commerce. It may mean I write my mission in my own business. Either way, I’m excited to explore the possibilities.  

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

“As an active duty Marine instructor, a MV-22B Instructor Pilot, Matt’s personal background coupled with his military training, made him an exceptional classmate and teammate throughout his Duke MBA experience. Given the number of active military and veterans currently enrolled in Duke’s Executive MBA programs, Matt was instrumental in raising awareness for and launching a “Bridging the Gap” workshop series designed to support our military students, particularly as it relates to the major career transitions they are exploring.

Matt quickly connected with all affiliated military students at Fuqua and collaborated with Duke’s Career Management Center to design and deliver various workshops, such as Leadership Through Adversity, Mission First, People Always–Balancing Empathy with Bias for Action, and Lessons Learned While Making A Successful Transition Out of the Military. We are confident this workshop series will impact future EMBA classes and help bridge the gap for EMBA’s military in transition.

Matt’s dedication and commitment to the program contributed to a positive overall experience for his fellow classmates.”

Karen Courtney

Associate Dean, Executive MBA Programs & Global Teams


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