Alum to Alum with Luke Clawson

Cohort 9 Alum, Luke Clawson and family
Jul. 27, 2015

“I learned so much from other members of the cohort that it changed my management style.”

In the last issue I wrote that one of the ways we can increase the ROI in our MBA degrees and that, in fact, one of the goals of the EMBA Alumni Association is to build connections between the alumni.  By doing so, I believe we will not only be building our association and strengthening the reputation of the program, but that it will give each of us the opportunity to get to know the really impressive group of people that are the EMBA alumni.  A case in point is Cohort 9 Alum, Luke Clawson.

I caught up with Luke recently after missing him last month because he was on vacation, in China!  I quickly found out that an international vacation was not all that unusual for Luke and his wife.  They take at least one international trip a year and they have visited all seven continents together.  Since the birth of their three year old daughter she has accompanied them on visits to three different continents in her three years.  “Our goal for her is seven continents in seven years,” he says.

When he isn’t traveling the world, Luke is the Director of Telecommunications for G&G Systems, a Las Vegas based union electrical contractor that works mostly on the strip.  His current position is one he has not only grown into, but has actually grown since his graduation from the EMBA program.  “Company ownership was very supportive of my getting an MBA, and, since I graduated, they have given me more responsibility, let me develop my ideas, and allowed me to set, obtain and oversee training in new directions,” he says.  “As a result, we are now one of only two companies in Las Vegas that can do full, turn-key installations of cell phone systems that can provide cell phone signals inside buildings so they don’t have to rely on outside cell towers.”   He continues, “The traditional electrical industry has been around for a long time but we work in a niche market and now approximately 80% of our work is in low voltage, fire alarm, solar and telecommunications. And, that niche gives us the ability to compete not just by being the low bidder but by bringing unique value.”

I asked Luke if he learned anything in the program that helped him become a better manager.  “I learned so much from the sheer experience everyone else in the cohort brought to the table,” he said.  “I really liked the fact that we were a team, not just a class.  That we were not just working for a grade, but to do the best job we could for the team.  I learned so much from other members of the cohort that it changed my management style,” he said, “I saw the benefit of learning from others. As a result, I have tried to make our company more collaborative.  Now, our employees are more involved and I think they feel like their input is more valued.”  He concludes, “I know it has made us a more effective team.”

I asked about future goals.  “I am working with the owners of the company to be able to transition into ownership when they are ready to retire.”

Next, I asked Luke about the challenges of balancing being a husband and father with the 60 to 70 hours he works each week.  “Balance is a challenge,” he pauses and seems to want to proceed cautiously. “I have said this to my wife: I thought I knew what love was before my daughter was born, but now it has a whole new meaning.”  He continues, “My leadership role at work is important to me and the amount of time it takes away from family can be frustrating.  I try to keep the proper perspective.  I drop my daughter off at school two a days a week and I try to attend all her functions.  My wife works Saturdays, so I spend all weekend with her.  We have annual passes to Disneyland and we go at least once a month.  We also go to the beach at least once a month.  And, there are our international vacations.”  He smiles and says, “I use all my PTO.”

To wrap up our conversation, I asked about organizations and activities he is involved in outside of work. Unbelievably, he starts almost apologetically, “I would like to do more,” he says. “I have been involved in Big Brother, Big Sister for about 8 years.  I teach at the electrical apprenticeship program on a voluntary basis.  My wife and I host an annual Christmas party to benefit Help of Southern Nevada.”  And there is more!  “My wife is an occupational therapist,” he continues, “and as part of her job she has to evaluate her patients’ home environment to ensure they have certain features in their home before they can be released to go home.  I help install things like grab bars in their homes so they can qualify to go home.”  Giving his wife the credit he says, “My wife is a very giving person.  We’re exploring ways we might be able to do more in that area, perhaps by forming a non-profit organization.”

I think I did start by saying this guy is really impressive!