Thomas Mutchler ’83 ’90G, vice president of engineering for North America and energy at Air Products, counseled current MBA students to be comfortable in their own skin and to use face-to-face communication whenever possible.
“Business is fundamentally still a person-to-person endeavor, because people do business with people they trust,” Mutchler told the students during MBA Day on Oct. 23. “Technology like e-mail and texting has limitations.”
The event was hosted by the College of Business and Economics’ (CBE) Graduate Programs Office to bring together members of the MBA family and connect alumni with current students.
Participants were provided with a complimentary breakfast and the chance to network with their peers. Then they moved into Perella Auditorium for a Lehigh MBA update from CBE Dean Paul Brown and Andrew Ward, associate dean of graduate programs.
Brown provided participants with a copy of the college’s strategic plan and spoke specifically about the section on MBA program enhancements.
“I hope this gives you confidence that we’re always thinking about what is right,” Brown said.
Ward described the program’s new initiatives such as providing additional networking opportunities and a more robust new-student orientation program.
“It’s not just the classes you take, but the relationships you build while you’re here,” Ward said. “We’re trying to facilitate those relationships.”
‘Analyze the risk and reward’
Mutchler, who has worked at Air Products for almost 30 years in various leadership positions, then addressed the gathering. In his current role, he leads the engineering team that supports Air Products’ global energy businesses.
Mutchler spoke to students and alumni about the guiding principles for Lehigh MBAs in the global business environment and highlighted the merits of the program.
“It’s challenging at times, but it’s very worthwhile,” Mutchler said. “The skills you learn in Lehigh’s MBA program are very relevant in business.”
Mutchler described how each of the MBA program’s five guiding principles could be applied to business situations.
“Business is all about risk and reward,” Mutchler said. “In any situation, you analyze the potential risk and reward and you make purposeful decisions based around your analysis.”
Mutchler also instructed students to seek out mentors early in their careers.
“Mentors can help you navigate an increasingly complex world,” Mutchler said. “In the beginning of my career with Air Products, the world was very linear. Now, it’s much more complex.”
Having just returned from a trip to the Middle East, Mutchler said that his Lehigh MBA allowed him to travel the globe and expand his horizons beyond his modest upbringing. Ultimately, he told students that what you get out of the program is directly proportional to what you put into it.
“To do it well, it’s hard, but I recommend you do the hard thing,” Mutchler said. “Because in the end, it’s rewarding and life-changing.”
Following Mutchler’s talk was an alumni mentoring and panel discussion led by executive-in-residence Anne-Mette Halvorson.