[00:00:01] Sean Goheen (Host):
Greeting scholars and welcome to Following the Gong, a podcast of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State.
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Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our Scholar Alumni to hear their story so you can gain career and life advice and expand your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Scholar Alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rang the gone and graduated with honors and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Sean Goheen, class of 2011, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back.
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Patrick Lucas, Class of 2013, is an Analytics Success Manager at Nike in Boston, Massachusetts, where he works in product management to design and roll out inventory analytics products for internal Nike users. Previously, Patrick was working at a small Boston startup called select that developed inventory analytics tools for retailers before the company was acquired by Nike in 2019. Prior to select, Patrick worked for Accenture in Management Consulting for several years. He earned his BS in industrial engineering with honors from Penn State's College of Engineering in 2013. Patrick joins following the Gone to talk about his experiences as a second generation Penn Stater, entering the college as a third year student, playing championship level club sports, and leveraging on campus recruitment opportunities for internships and coops. Sean: He then explains how he took his IE background to first consulting and then data analytics management, and how he used corporate charitable giving matching to become a major gift donor to the college as a young alum. While certainly useful for scholars interested in these areas from business to baseball, this episode is helpful for any scholar looking at internships, coops, or jobs in any field, as well as alumni looking to make a difference for scholars or in their communities. His full bio and a detailed breakdown of topics discussed are available in the show notes on your podcast app. With that, let's dive into our conversation with Patrick Lucas, following the Gong.
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[00:02:16] Sean: Joining me here today on following the Gong is supply chain leader Patrick Lucas. Patrick, thank you so much for joining us all the way from Boston today.
[00:02:24] Patrick Lucas: Hey Sean, it is great to be here. And just I want you to know before we start, I have been listening to a few of the previous episodes and just want to say that you are really good at this. You have a talent with this, so I know it's your side job, but kudos to you for keeping this going.
[00:02:39] Sean: Well, thank you, I appreciate that and glad to add you to the amazing roster of stroller alumni that we've been able to feature here on the show and hear your journey. And I'm excited to dive into some supply chain data analytics and some other things with you today. But I always like to start and you know this as somebody who's listened to some past episodes about how you first came to Penn State and eventually into the Shire Honors College.
[00:03:00] Patrick: Yeah, so for starters, my dad is a Penn Stater as well, so I'm a legacy Penn Stater, and he graduated in 80 and 82 from engineering and then his MBA after that. And so, like any good Penn State dad, we grew up, me and my brothers grew up coming to campus. I always enjoyed those trips. So that's really what got me in the door, and that's what got me into the application process. But then ultimately, when it came time to make that decision, penn State or elsewhere, it was really for the combination of education, athletic opportunities, and overall campus life. I had applied to be in the Honors College as an incoming freshman and wasn't admitted, definitely, always sort of left me with a slightly sour taste or feeling somewhat shortchanged, and in some cases both figuratively and literally, as we can talk about later. But I tried not to let that bother me too much at Penn State's. An excellent school and lots of opportunities came in as a freshman, lived in a typical freshman situation, east halls with a bunch of other 18 to 20 year olds, which was an absolute blast. Went on to pursue athletic interests, joining the baseball club team, pursuing some academic interests outside of the Honors College in engineering, and then so going through that process and having those math and science courses, I actually ended up enrolling in several honors courses during those first two years. They're open to any student to enroll so long as there's space available. And so I always made it a point to try and get into one of those courses because they also had smaller class sizes and typically had well reviewed professors. So for me, that was something that was a no brainer. Like, why wouldn't I take advantage of that even though I wasn't part of the Honors College? And so I'd been doing that for a year and a half or so and had been doing very well and eventually started talking with one of my professors in Mechanics.
He was surprised that I wasn't actually an honor student. And we got to talking and he said he would be willing to write a letter of recommendation to apply as a Gateway Scholar is what they called it at the time. And so I reapplied and decided to make it official.
[00:05:06] Sean: That's awesome. And if you go back and listen to my interview, I had a kind of a similar situation. I didn't apply to the college coming in like you did, but I think it's such a great opportunity for students who are demonstrating that they want that extra engagement, they want that experience. And so kudos to you, Patrick, and glad that you were able to get in. And so if there are students who are listening who did come into the college as a current Penn State student like both of us, what advice would you give them specifically to make the most of their time in the college knowing that it is shorter than the time that a student who may be coming in straight out of high school would have in the college.
[00:05:39] Patrick: Yeah. So the advice I have here is probably more to do as I say and not as I did. Having joined going into my junior year, I definitely had already developed my own friend circles. I had other interests, other outside of academic interests, competing for my time. I definitely shied away from some of the resources and opportunities that the Honors college can provide. And so for me, there was probably a few events that I was able to attend. It was anything that was related to career development, or there was probably a few information sessions or companies that were coming specifically to talk to Shrier students. And so for me, those would be things that I probably went to, but I definitely didn't follow up and stay connected with a close circle of other scholars. And so my advice to anybody is to do the opposite and really try to look for those opportunities, because I know that you and the other folks and the staff do a really great job creating those opportunities, getting those alumni to come back, getting companies to come and have time that's exclusively for scholar. And a lot of the community around Schreyer can be so helpful in providing those resources for the scholars that every scholar should be trying to take advantage of all of them.
[00:06:55] Sean: Absolutely. I will certainly echo that. And thank you for the compliments. And if you're a scholar listening, make sure you come talk to us specifically. Matt Ischler our Director of Career Development. He is a great resource for you in addition to all of the opportunities you have in your home, college, or campus. Like Patrick said, there's specific opportunities just for Schreyer scholars, so make sure you take advantage of those while you are currently at Penn State. Now, Patrick, you mentioned a class in mechanics. Specifically. Was the class that you had a connection with one of the faculty members that got you into the college. What was it about the mechanics? And you majored in industrial engineering. So what was it about that major that you picked out of the boatload of majors that you can opt into at Penn State?
[00:07:36] Patrick: I mean, so for me, I was always sort of predispositioned towards engineering. Strong in math and science is typically how that happens. And so for me, I was definitely interested in exploring what was out there. I remember talking with a bunch of other engineering students at the time, and when engineering majors talk about their majors, they always do it in abbreviations. So there's me EE, Civi, Chemi, and industrial engineering is referred to as Ie. And I remember there was also talk of Ie being somewhat easier than the other engineering majors, which I think is I definitely don't fully agree with that. Maybe there was one fewer chemistry course or something, but to me, it gets joked about as being an imaginary engineer. And I couldn't find that to be further from the truth.
It was definitely challenging. But for me, what drew me in was the combination of bringing business processes and using math and science to create efficiencies or find ways to put systems together in better ways that created better business outcomes. So I really viewed it as the engineering of a business, right? So applying engineering practice into business processes to make better outcomes. And I brought up the imaginary engineers because I know Disney actually does a lot of recruiting for industrial engineers at Penn State, and they actually call their engineers at Disney Imagineers. So it sort of comes back full circle.
[00:09:00] Sean: That is funny. And obviously, Imagineering is its own kind of cool subfield within engineering and all the great things that not only their parks, but theme parks more generally and those immersive experiences. But I think that's pretty cool that you looked at it specifically through a business lens. And was that inspired at all? You said your dad got his MBA here at Penn State in addition to an engineering degree. So was there any kind of family inspiration in that?
[00:09:23] Patrick: Sure, yeah, I think, you know, it was something that I would have talked to him about at the time too, and discussed the different options. And he probably would have definitely pointed me in that direction too, especially sort of thinking through it like that, finding those interests in combining business and engineering. Yeah, that's definitely a factor, for sure.
[00:09:41] Sean: Now, you mentioned that there was an unfortunate stereotype that this may be an easy engineering major, but there is no such thing as an easy engineering major at Penn State and other top schools like ours. And so I'm imagining that was pretty stressful. But you mentioned athletic opportunities. How did you use those to de stress and take your mind away from those academic rigors and focus on some personal passions?
[00:10:06] Patrick: Yeah, so I always played baseball growing up, played through high school was pretty good. And so when I went looking for colleges, I was hopeful to continue playing. And there were some other schools, these smaller D schools, where if I had gone, I probably would have played. But I didn't really want that as my college experience. I wanted something more besides just being able to play baseball. So when I decided to go to Penn State, I took a chance that maybe I could meet the baseball coach. Maybe I could try and earn a walk on spot on the team. As it turns out, that was a bit too optimistic of me. But penn State being so big and drawing so many talented individuals to campus. There are also plenty of other good baseball players at Penn State that also weren't good enough for the Penn State baseball team. And so therefore, we have club sports and there are actually two club baseball teams at Penn State. So I tried out in the fall of my freshman year and made that team and ultimately got to continue playing baseball for all four years while I was at Penn State. And so for me it was really great because I grew up in the Boston area, too, where I live now. But coming to Penn State my freshman year, I knew nobody. There wasn't any other person from my high school graduating class that went to Penn State, and so I had gotten lucky. I mentioned east halls. I made some friends very quickly there, but club baseball through Volleball and the tryouts that they'd run allowed me to make even more new friends and then making the team. Going through midnight practices on a Friday night at Haluba Hall, going through traveling, playing three games every weekend in the spring in the northeast spring weather, which is one time we were literally playing in the snow.
So having those experiences really helps you build bonds. And these are some of my best friends to this day. Really good opportunity for me. I wouldn't necessarily call it relaxing all the time, but it was a really great way to get out of the classroom and sort of take your mind somewhere else. And I think the craziest part is actually how successful and competitive club baseball ended up turning out to be for me, at least, at Penn State. As of today, the club has won three Division One club national championships and a Division Two club national championship. In 2010, which I was a part of, we actually beat the University of Wyoming in extra innings at 02:00 A.m. After many rain delays, and the Wyoming team was actually worried they were going to miss their flight out because they had booked to fly home that next morning. When it finished at 02:00 A.m., they had the sad drive back to the airport and they did actually end up missing their flights. But we were able to get that final out at 02:00 A.m. And take home that national championship, which was amazing.
[00:12:42] Sean: That is awesome. And if you are an athletics fan, would recommend going back and checking out some past episodes if you like football, we had Stefan with Newste at one point on the show along with his wife Hillary. If you are into basketball, highly recommend checking out our episode with Caroline Fitzgerald, who played club level like you did Patrick, but in women's basketball. And if you're a baseball fan and potentially a prospective scholar, that sounds like a great option if you want to come and check out the club baseball level here at university park. And if you're looking at the campuses I know penn state abington and Penn state berks have great baseball teams at the D three level. And Penn state Du Bois is a national powerhouse at their level. I don't quite know what level that is, but I know they've won several national championships.
[00:13:22] Patrick: So.
[00:13:22] Sean: Penn State Baseball School. You heard it here first.
[00:13:25] Patrick: Yeah.
[00:13:26] Sean: Patrick, changing subjects back to career development, you mentioned those were some of the opportunities that you did leverage within the college, and we both recommend that to our current so, you know, we've talked about your major life on the diamond, but what about internships? How did you start preparing for those professional roles and getting those critical pre professional roles while you were at Penn State?
[00:13:48] Patrick: I was actually able to do, in total, sort of three internships, two co op rotations, and one regular summer internship. The College of Engineering also had a lot of career development events and several recruiting events throughout the year where companies would come in and host information sessions. And I did try to go to as many of those as possible, too. I think it was the night before the Big Penn State career fair. I had attended a presentation in the industrial engineering building from a company that I hadn't heard of at the time called Accenture, and they were looking to recruit industrial engineers into their consulting co op program that specialized in labor and workflow optimization. And so through their presentation, I got interested in the work, and the lifestyle sounded really cool. So I got a chance to talk to their representatives that night and ask them some questions and sort of make a small impression, but an impression nonetheless that night. So that when I did show up the next day at Big Penn State career Fair. They were there again, and I was able to talk to them again. And they were so glad to in the sea of hundreds and thousands of students at that big career fair to see a recognizable face. They ended up talking with me again for quite a while. And so one piece of advice there is to go to these sessions and sort of build that relationship early and build a rapport up with some of these recruiters in a way to stand out, right. Because if you're in their shoes at those career events, it can be overwhelming for them just as much as it is overwhelming for students in those situations. But so anyways, I was applying with them for a summer internship co op so I wouldn't have to take any time away from school. But through the interview process with Accenture, I found out they were actually looking for fall semester co ops. I was a little hesitant about missing a fall semester, obviously, football season. Who wants to miss that? It ended up being a great decision for me to go for it. So I spent that junior year living in Pittsburgh but traveling four days a week to a client site in Virginia with the other consultants on the team. And my project was to document and model labor standards for various manufacturing operations on the factory floor. So it's probably not the most typical or the cushiest assignment, but it was really exciting to get out there and sort of put into practice some of the Ie things that we'd been learning in the classroom. So a really great experience overall. I then went back and did a second rotation with them over the summer. So this more typical timing of an internship and had a more conventional consulting assignment at that point in time. And we were doing an assessment for a retailer and I was traveling every week again, mostly working in an office this time, but occasionally would go out and make some observations in the field as well. And so this project culminated in a set of recommendations to improve store labor efficiency. And I say that's sort of a typical consulting assignment is to do an assessment and provide recommendations and then the third one. So because I had taken a semester off for that first rotation with Accenture, I entered my senior year with three semesters still to go. And so most of my friends were preparing to graduate and start their full time job the summer after senior year. I wanted to use that to do another internship and get to experience a different company. And so I had interviewed and offered two different opportunities. One was with Nike in Oregon and another was with Capital One in Richmond. He's going to see Sean. If you have any guesses as to which one I might have taken.
[00:17:09] Sean: I'm trying to guess based on the on brand apparel that it might have been Nike.
[00:17:14] Patrick: It was not Nike. So this is a funny story that I tell people at Nike today too, but I went and worked at Capital One for the summer in Richmond in their network operations, looking at the process for whether it's adding or removing or modifying their ATM network. And so that was a really interesting experience as well.
[00:17:36] Sean: That is really interesting and I would not have expected that. And I do want to talk a little bit about more with consulting, but we're in your senior year here in your chronology, and so of course we have to talk about your thesis and how that's impacted your experience as both a consultant and in supply chain operations, data analytics. So tell us about your project, but more importantly, what you took out of that experience.
[00:18:00] Patrick: I remember at the time feeling as if it was really haphazardly thrown together, but in reflecting back on it, it almost sounds as if there was actually a bit more structure and thought out, like fairly well planned out in actuality. So I went back to look it up, the actual title, I might say. This was probably a working title and I missed the opportunity to give it a more exciting title down the line. Probably pretty typical for most thesis and academic publications, but it was called Use of Inventory Management for Large General Item Retailers. So, yeah, very exciting. So I had spoken to my advisor about doing something with inventory policies that I had learned about in his class, and he said that would make for a good honors thesis, but I would need to get a data set to be able to apply this inventory policy. So I had made a connection with one of my Accenture clients from my co op rotations and reached back out to see if she'd be willing to go to her bosses and get approval to share a data set with me that I could use. I think I would have been fairly stuck had she not been willing, but fortunately for me, she was willing to get me a sample set of data that I could use. And so I had that maybe, I want to say, a year before I needed to actually turn it in. And so I spent the next several months doing things other than writing my thesis. Naturally. Then when I did get serious about writing it again, there was definitely some long nights in the computer lab. I had, I want to say about four weeks to go and my progress still wasn't as far as it probably should have been. I had been writing, but it wasn't there. I did force myself to apply some external motivation and I decided I wouldn't shave my beard until it was done and I had rung the gong. So those last four weeks were definitely looking more like you, Sean. Not quite, not quite. Yours is far more impressive at this moment. But anyway, so I decided I wouldn't shave. And then just before Thanksgiving break, I did finish it up because I was graduating in the fall, I finished it up and as like a weird form of celebration, I shaved it into a horseshoe mustache for the football game that weekend and was able to celebrate in sort of a weird way there.
[00:20:04] Sean: So, Patrick, kind of jumping ahead a little know, I think it was interesting you were able to leverage your internships and co ops into your thesis. Then how were you able to take the thesis and what you learned doing that analysis and research into your career today?
[00:20:18] Patrick: It's funny how applicable it actually is. I actually just looking it up for this. I need to go back and reread it start to finish because I probably haven't read it start to finish since I turned it in. But I think there are a lot as I was going through it, I had done some commentary on the 2008 financial crisis being sort of a catalyst for retailers that were looking to cut costs and better manage their inventory. And if you think about the pandemic and the supply chain issues that came out of that. We're sort of back in that mode where all sorts of retailers and companies are trying to better manage their inventory and get more resilient in their supply chain. It's funny how it's sort of cyclical in that way and it is very applicable to some of the work that I'm doing today. But, yeah, I want to go back and take another look and see if there's other nuggets that I can pull out from that.
[00:21:07] Sean: Before you graduated, you did your internship in the banking industry, but you also had done these co ops and internships with Accenture and you ultimately decided to go into that consulting path. So what was it about the consulting path over all the other things you could have done that really drew you in? Because we do in Schreyer have a student group dedicated to pursuing careers with firms like Accenture, Deloitte McKinsey and the other big know what drew you there and what advice would you have for students once they go into job one with these firms? And it's a full time gig, you're no longer a student, but you're the nominally 40, but let's be real, 8100 hours a week consultant with firms like this.
[00:21:46] Patrick: It can be a really great career path, whether it's for five years, two years, 20 years or more. Some people I worked with had been there for 25 plus years because it is a grind, right? And so I think the important thing to know is what you want from it, because it will take over your life if you let it. And some people do want that. Some people are like, I want this to be 80 hours weeks. I want to live and breathe this client work. And that works for them. It's probably a smaller portion of the population. Most don't want that. And so finding out what your boundaries are and setting those clear expectations with others was a super valuable lesson that I learned. Nobody else is going to set those boundaries for you. So you have to be really clear in what it is that you want out of it that'll make it so that you can have a long, extended career in consulting if that's what you ultimately decide to do, which is not.
[00:22:39] Sean: What you've chosen to do. So how did you know that it was time to look for job number two outside of Accenture?
[00:22:47] Patrick: Yeah, so I had had some success in consulting and I'd been promoted twice in five years. But I did feel like I was at sort of this stall out point. So on a personal level, I knew I wasn't going to stay for I wasn't going to be a 25 to lifer, but I wasn't also committed to leaving immediately. But my now wife and I had just moved in together, and I felt like I was sort of missing out on certain things at home, both with her and our other friends who were here while I was traveling four days out of the week and then combined that shortly after my latest promotion. I wasn't particularly excited about the work that I was doing. That happens in consulting when you sort of go through different assignments that some are better than others in a lot of ways, and there's a lot of different aspects of it that you can say, like, oh, well, I like the team I'm working with, but maybe not the project works so much. Or I'm liking the location, but the project isn't what I want. Or I really love the project, but it's sort of in a strange part of the country and hard to get to and all that. So you have sort of this balancing game, but I was in a situation where I didn't have enough of those balancing out for me and so I wasn't really enjoying the project work. And I also felt like I was missing out on opportunities to actually go and grow and learn in other areas outside of consulting. And so I knew I needed to do something. I've been looking at other opportunities on and off for maybe the better part of a year before I finally got connected with a startup company in Boston called select that was doing inventory analytics for retailers. And so I had been working with retailers at Accenture, and so for me it felt like the perfect fit. And so I decided know, I'm going to just jump 2ft into that opportunity.
[00:24:33] Sean: So that must have been a pretty radical change, right? Going from Accenture, one of the big four firms, to a startup. So give us some insight on what it's like working in both of those settings, things you liked, things that maybe are a bit challenging, that students as they're trying to figure out what path they want to pursue, what insight you could share.
[00:24:52] Patrick: Both are so valuable and so rewarding in different ways. I think the grass tends to always be a little greener when you're looking across those two different opportunities. For example, at Accenture, I rarely actually worked with anybody else that was located in Boston. We have teams that have people coming from all over the country into that client location and then spread apart at the end of the week. And so I felt like I wasn't making enough connections in my local office. There were other things that they would do for networking events and stuff to get the people that were local together, but it always felt like there was sort of like that part of it was lacking. Whereas at select we had some fully remote members, but for the most part everybody was in the same fairly small space. I sat within shouting distance of our CEO, head of HR, members of engineering, Sales, Data science. So it was a lot different to be able to sort of build those connections and have. A local group of people that I'm working with and made some really good friends that way too, that I stay in touch with today. And we were able to sort of turn our working relationship into friendship and stay connected that way. So it's just sort of two very radically different environments. I also definitely needed the new challenges that come with working at a smaller company. At Accenture, I would get put on a team working on a small phase of a project with a client that has multiple Accenture projects going on at any one time. You definitely can feel like this sort of cog in the machine and sort of get lost in the enormity of it. You're so hyper focused on the one area of the client project that you're working on. And then at Select, I was responsible basically for the full implementation of a client system. And so I would end up wearing many hats, and if they had an urgent question or concern, it was me. I was the one that they would be reaching out to. And so I got to own that success or failure of a project. In total, to me, having that experience of owning that outcome and owning that client relationship was very valuable.
[00:26:54] Sean: That is awesome. And speaking of being valuable, your company must have been pretty valuable because you were acquired by yes, yes.
[00:27:03] Patrick: And to be honest, it was a little shorter than I would have liked because I didn't get to see a lot of those projects through. I was only at select for about six months before Nike came in and bought us up. It was a pretty surreal moment, and it can be a little scary because, you know, as the listeners would know, not everyone who is working at the old company gets acquired into the new company. But once I found out that I was also being acquired, it was pretty exciting. I'll say specifically, being acquired by Nike is truly awesome.
[00:27:32] Sean: Well, let's talk about that, your current role. And we're just trying to lump select and Nike into your current window since it was so short, and let's talk about that in the business analytics that you're you know, we've talked a little bit about sports. You're a baseball player, which we never actually said. What position did you play?
[00:27:49] Patrick: You could say I was a utility player. My strength was definitely at the plate, and I could hold my own in the field in most positions. So it was really wherever we needed me that day, I would play. So I did some outfield first base. I stopped playing third base and shortstop in high school, but I might have gotten inning or two over at the hot corner at third. So really I was in there for my bat, primarily, and then plugged a hole in the field wherever I could got you.
[00:28:15] Sean: And there are so many statistics that have been invented in baseball for fielding, probably are most likely to know batting average, on base percentage in these things. And you hear these terms, analytics, thrown around, particularly in baseball, but every sport now seems to be dominated by the old school gut feeling or the new era analytics. And how do you blend these two things? But also you hear it a lot in the business context. So can you explain what business analytics actually is and what you do to support Nike with this tool in the 21st century?
[00:28:48] Patrick: Really, like, whether for baseball or business or anything else, really, analytics is all about finding and leveraging patterns in data and then using them to create better outcomes. At simplest, that's what we're doing. And so in business, take an organization, Nike, or really any company that's producing and selling products or services in multiple locations. They aren't just creating those products, they're also creating data. Each time that product is transitioned to a finished good, or it's moved from one location to another, or it's sold to a customer somewhere, there's information about all of those actions that gets recorded or even inactions.
[00:29:25] Sean: Right. If it's sitting, yeah, good catch.
[00:29:27] Patrick: Because those are the ones that get missed more frequently. Right. So it's really easy to look at the sales log and see which products are being sold, but which ones aren't being sold. Right. So in any case, the larger the organization, the more complex and varied that data becomes. And it can be really a big challenge to get all of that data sort of organized and together and put in the right way so that it can be analyzed so that we can observe some statistically significant pattern. And then I'd say the hardest part is actually finally getting the business to act on these patterns. Right. And so for me, that's actually where I end up playing the biggest role, is I'm not as deep into the data science components, or the data querying, or transformation, or writing code. My job is really to understand enough of how those things can come together and help piece them together in such a way that we can confidently go to our business partners and say, this tool, this piece of software, this process that leverages these analytical patterns will create the outcome you're looking for.
[00:30:32] Sean: So is there an example from the past that's maybe been resolved that isn't overly, you know, Penn State is a Nike school. Is there any examples of how your work might have supported the Nittany Lions and intercollegiate athletics? Or more specifically, probably the fans purchasing Nike attire to show their support of the team?
[00:30:51] Patrick: So I would say there's a lot that has to happen from if you think about where the Penn State shirts are being produced overseas, they come into the ports in the US. And Nike has a lot of different customers, including its own Nike Direct stores. Right. So between all that Penn State stuff, that comes in needs to be sort of allocated out to those different customers. That's something that my team's working on today. How do we do that in a way that honors those commitments but puts those products in front of the right consumers? How do we get the Penn State gear into the Nike store in Philadelphia so that our Penn State fans can buy it? So doing that in a way that is cost effective and capturing all the revenue and all the demand that is out there is really what my team is focused on.
[00:31:40] Sean: You know, you definitely want to see the Penn State gear at the Dick's Sporting Goods, right in Erie or in Pittsburgh, but maybe not. I don't know if the one in Columbus would necessarily want Penn State attire showing up in their loading dock.
[00:31:52] Patrick: Yeah, you never know. You never know. There might be a Drew alller fan out there. He's from do.
[00:31:57] Sean: We do recruit the Ohio quarterbacks Sean Clifford. Now, drew aller So you know, they.
[00:32:03] Patrick: Have some family and friends that might be interested in some Penn State clothing.
[00:32:06] Sean: I would think so, but there's great options here, like the Penn State bookstore, the family clothesline, mcclanahans and others downtown. None of these are sponsored.
[00:32:15] Patrick: They and they do for the most part, all carry Nike product. I want to say, yep, I think.
[00:32:19] Sean: Lions Pride I've definitely seen there as well, another major player downtown. So give love to as many of them as I can remember off the top of my head here. Again, not sponsored. You know, Patrick, very few jobs have a typical day, but if you had close to a typical day or maybe what is it like preparing a presentation or report for a senior executive? Because you did say the hardest part is not the actual data. It's getting people to understand and use it correctly.
[00:32:46] Patrick: Yeah. So that is where my focus is. And I think it's a good way to apply a lot of the industrial engineering education from Penn State, too, because what my role is, is to design those systems and processes so that the business can act on those patterns that we've observed and that we expect to play out over time. So I'm often on calls discussing our analytics based solutions with our business partners and helping break down that black box of what is this analytics machine? And sort of talk them through how we can lean into those decisions. And they're not always perfect, too. You see this in baseball and basketball. So there is a balance, but being able to strike that balance with our business partners and on the other side, too, because it goes both ways. I also spend quite a bit of time with our data scientists and the engineers figuring out how we can take that business process and transform it and figure out sort of like, what is possible. How are we not leveraging analytics enough in this space? And ultimately come up with usually a software product, but could be a variety of things, but something that makes it faster, easier, better for those business partners and execution teams to act upon those patterns.
[00:33:59] Sean: So is it fair to say that if I were to try and sum up what you do, you're a bit of a translator for internal and B to B clients, is that accurate?
[00:34:09] Patrick: Yeah, that's definitely a translator role. Sometimes a negotiator, sometimes an empathizer. It's really trying to understand what can we do with the technology and really understand either the pain points or the current sort of things that are holding us back in the business process and trying to work through with some other very smart partners to figure out what the right solution is and how we can leverage data to make better decisions.
[00:34:36] Sean: Now for scholars who want to do something like what you do. Or maybe they want to be more on the analytics, the data science, like the hard computer side of things, or even consulting. What kind of experiences or skills should they be working on now while they're at Penn State? They're in the honors college. That can help them kickstart their career in these areas.
[00:34:57] Patrick: There's honestly so much and there is a need for a variety of skill sets. There's those with the more deep specialties, whether it's in statistics theory or data engineering and software engineering, we need those deep specialties. And so focusing on those, if that's what you're interested, is a great thing. But we do also need some of the more general. We need people with sort of enough knowledge in each one of those areas that can sort of bring them together. And in either case, whether you're going deep or where you're going to have a general understanding of several of these things, it's always good to think through the application and think through how is this going to make someone's job easier, better get more sales, right? So whatever it is, I work with a ton of really capable, really smart people, but it really is the ones that can sort of do both and sort of think like, hey, I have this deep expertise, but I'm also thinking through how it's going to be applied and you just get so much better outcomes when that is the case. Even if you are going deep in specialty, having a little bit of knowledge of what's sort of upstream and downstream from you can be just so valuable.
[00:36:04] Sean: Absolutely. I think that's important to know that nobody works in a vacuum. Even if your project might be some individual contribution work, it does play into a bigger system no matter what line of work you're doing. And speaking of gears, I'm going to shift gears here a little bit, Patrick, to talk to something. I think based on how you describe this to me. We're going to call some mythbusting here. So a good number of our past guests, not all of them, but many of them have been donors to the college, and you, I'm very happy to say, are part of this group. So thank you for that. Patrick, can you talk, though, about how you leveraged opportunities around you to support our current Scholars who came after us, even though you are still really early in your career? And in your own words here, this is from the questionnaire, and this is in quotes. You are not the founder of a tech unicorn.
[00:36:48] Patrick: Yeah, I am not. Spoiler alert. No. I think it is something that most people don't take advantage of and really understand that is there. So I'll back up a little bit. I got reconnected with the Honors College, I want to say, like 2018 19, and got to talking about the different experiences that we're trying to create for current Scholars. And a lot of those really resonated with me. Like I said earlier, I came in as a junior into the Hunters College, and even before that had mentioned I felt a little shortchanged about not getting in as a freshman because I'm sure all the numbers have changed. But I think the process is still the same where the incoming freshmen get a scholarship very well deserved and as come in as a junior or sophomore or later than your freshman year, you're not eligible for that scholarship or grant just that one.
[00:37:38] Sean: I do want to point out that all Scholar are considered for all of the other scholarships beyond the academic excellence, no matter what point you begin. But that one is reserved for first year students.
[00:37:48] Patrick: Yeah, good clarification for me. I was demonstrating at Penn State that I was capable of being able to complete the Honors.
I had signed on to make it official, write my thesis, but I wasn't getting sort of that same benefit that my peers were getting. And so that did sort of leave me in this place of, well, do I have such a strong connection with the Honors College as maybe somebody else does? And in 2018 2019, when I was reconnecting with the college, we were talking about some of those experiences, and I had been interested in providing something for those students that join the college after their freshman year. And so I wasn't in the position of giving so much money that every student would get the same amount that the incoming freshman students got. But I thought being able to even just add a small piece into those students would be a really good thing to do. And so we had talked about doing I think it was maybe a five year commitment of just a couple of year, and that all that money would go directly to a student. And that was great. But what I learned about through that discussion and through that process was the ability to endow a scholarship. And what that does is it requires a larger lump sum contribution upfront, but it grows interest over time and is able to provide in perpetuity scholarship funds to students. And so in addition to learning about that, I also being at Nike. Now, Nike does employer match on contributions, and once a year on Giving Tuesday, they actually do a double match and there's a cap on what that is. And so we actually designed a donation schedule where I could donate more than I was initially interested in. So had to sort of work through that and set aside funds for that, but take advantage of that double match. To really, basically triple the impact and over the course of two years, fund an endowed scholarship that can then last in perpetuity for scholars to come for generations. And so to me, it was a no brainer in order to take advantage of this opportunity presented by Nike and provide the most benefit to students, that to me was totally worth doing and something that I don't think a lot of people in a similar position in their careers as I'm in have considered or fully leveraged. And so I want those young alumni and future young alumni, current students, to sort of think through that and know that that's a possibility. We would love for that to continue to go to Schreyer, but really it's with whatever you're passionate about and whatever you're interested in, leverage those opportunities because it is something that goes so underutilized the corporate match.
[00:40:28] Sean: Absolutely. Thank you, Patrick, for your support of our scholars and specifically ones like you and I who started in and aren't eligible for the Academic Excellence Scholarship. And if you have any questions about financial aid, come talk to our student aid counselor, Austin. She's fantastic. You know, if you have questions about FAFSA or just anything with student aid, she's dedicated to helping Schreyer Scholars through the process, so she can help answer any questions that you have that Patrick and I definitely can't because we're not experts on these things. But I do want to harp on what you said there, Patrick, which is corporate matches. A lot of the companies that you may go and intern with and get your 1st, 2nd, 3rd jobs with, they have matching programs sometimes one to one, two to one, three to one. It's a little less common than three to one, but take advantage of those to support things that you care about, whether it's the honors, college thon, or different community organizations that matter to you, especially if they have bonus days like Giving Tuesday. So Patrick, kudos to you for recognizing that and fully leveraging that to not only your benefit, but the benefit of our scholars.
[00:41:27] Patrick: Most companies offer some, whether some match and also other benefits that go crazy underutilized, like education credits for you to go back and take continued ed. And so for me, it's an obvious thing. They have this money set aside. If I don't use it, nobody will. And so I'm going to use it for something that I'm passionate about.
[00:41:48] Sean: Absolutely.
[00:41:49] Patrick: Yeah.
[00:41:49] Sean: Take advantage of all those benefits from those employers that you go out to, whether it's the education ones, if you're considering any kind of a master's or PhD, get somebody else to pay for it. You paid for your bachelor's degree here at the Honors College. Get somebody, whether it's a ta research, if you're going more traditional route, or if you're going back, get your employer to pay for it and max out those retirement benefits that they give you. So great advice, Patrick. Now we're at the very tail end of our conversation and I just want to ask, are there any questions about club sports consulting, supply chain, retail analytics, baseball that I should have asked? But I'm not an expert on these things as much as I'm a long suffering Phillies fan that I didn't know to ask about. So another way to ask this question, what are questions that you get from student mentees or your interns that you work?
[00:42:39] Patrick: You've you've definitely hit on all the questions that I get asked and some ones that I don't normally get asked. So I want to say that we've covered. There's nothing there's nothing coming to mind that we haven't touched on.
[00:42:49] Sean: Well, that works out pretty well then. And if you're thinking of something, we'll ask Patrick in a moment how to get in touch with him. But first I'm going to ask you, what would you say is your biggest success to date? So take advantage of this moment.
[00:43:01] Patrick: To brag a bit, my biggest success in my mind is actually the endowment of it's called the Lucas Family Honor Scholarship. Again, I think it's just such an amazing way to give back and give especially to the student population that you, Sean, and I were both in in terms of putting in that extra work and being able to get some financial assistance because of it. For me, that's been a really big success point.
[00:43:26] Sean: Well, I appreciate that, especially considering you won a national championship and if that surpasses it, that's pretty cool. But on the flip side, Patrick, what would you say is the biggest transformational learning moment or mistake that you've made in your career and what you learned from that experience?
[00:43:40] Patrick: I had been up for a new role, actually fairly recently, and I had thought that the success in my current role was sort of apparent and I definitely underestimated the need for me to be able to tell that story of my successes. And so I've learned that people tend to trust stories more than the facts that are somewhat apparent. But I've definitely had some successful projects that over the years that have gone underappreciated or in this case, didn't get a role that I wanted because I wasn't able to craft and tell a really good story around it. So one thing that I've learned and continue learning and working on is being able to craft that story and tell a compelling story about and sort of really just conveying that passion and those moments that I learned throughout those processes, that's what really sticks and resonates with people. And being able to do that well is a way to move up in your career and achieve your goals a lot faster. So something that I'm still currently working on is to be able to know when to craft and tell that compelling story.
[00:44:49] Sean: I think that's a challenge for a lot of Schreyer scholars. To be honest, Patrick, you are not alone in that. I think humility is a common trait among our group of people, and most of the time that's great, but there are times that you need to set it aside because you are your own best advocate. So whether that's in your performance reviews, job interviews, those sorts of things, nobody will be a bigger advocate for yourself than you. So I think that's a great experience to learn from our scholars, from you.
[00:45:15] Patrick: Patrick, and it takes some practice and some time, and even both of us who have been out of college for ten plus years, this is something that we both recognize, that is something that you still need to learn and practice throughout your career.
[00:45:29] Sean: Absolutely. You do need to put the hard work in, but the gift wrap around it really does make a difference. So one thing we haven't actually talked too much about on this episode, so here's an opportunity to fit it in. Here at the end is mentorship, which is the whole purpose of this podcast. So how do you approach mentorship? You're still early in your career, so you're at a place where you're probably both mentoring younger employees and interns, but also you're still a mentee yourself to more seasoned professionals. So how do you approach that? And what advice around mentorship do you have for current scholars?
[00:45:59] Patrick: I think when a lot of people think about mentorship, they think about finding one person who is going to be your mentor throughout your entire career. For those that have that, that's amazing. I think that's really hard to find, but that doesn't mean there aren't other mentors that can coach you through certain parts of what you're facing currently, or even whether it's professionally or personally. But I think the key thing for me is to be open about it and ask for it when you need it, because again, nobody's going to do it for you. So being able to seek out those opportunities and to approach them with actually some humility in this case, and say like, look, I'm not achieving whatever it is I thought I should be achieving, and being able to ask for that help is super important. And then I've found it's how I approach mentoring myself. But I've found that anytime I've asked someone, they've always been willing to provide that mentorship in small or bigger ways. Right. So it doesn't always have to be like, again, this lifelong commitment. But I've found that I'm always willing, if someone were to ask me, I'm always willing to provide my advice. And really, I think they're going to get out of it what they put into it. Right. And I view this to my mentors as well, but if you don't sort of keep fostering those relationships, they will ultimately probably fizzle out. And so if it is something that you want to keep going, you have to keep putting that energy and time into it to keep it going.
[00:47:27] Sean: I could not agree more. It's like a garden. You got to tend to it, and if you don't yeah.
[00:47:31] Patrick: And sometimes it's okay to let it. Yeah.
[00:47:34] Sean: There are sometimes mentorships that I think both parties get out of what they need and circumstances change and you move on, and others that are for life. And speaking of people, Patrick, so we're kind of in the fun questions here at the end. Are there any professors or friends from your days at University Park that you want to give a shout out to?
[00:47:52] Patrick: Yeah, so I mentioned East Hall, so I'll just give a shout out. Not that they're listening, my buddies from Third Floor Packer and then any baseball, both that would have played with me or that came after me, before me, even. Any club baseball folks out there. Big shout out. And lastly, I did mention my thesis advisor, professor Robin Drone. He has since retired, but was definitely a big help in getting my honors education across the finish line.
[00:48:18] Sean: Having a good thesis advisor is huge. And I also want to give you a shout out to the club baseball. I don't remember everything from undergrad, but one thing that stuck out was they had one of the coolest Thon fundraisers I ever remember. I actually remember buying a raffle ticket they had one year in the Hub, a signed Chase Utley. It's either a jersey or a bat or something that they were raffling off for Thawn and I was like, okay, you got me on this one. There's so many Thon fundraisers that happen, you can't participate in them all. But I was like, all right, I'm going to buy a ticket for this one. I didn't win. But I always thought that was really cool that they were able to snag that as a fundraiser. So kudos to that group for that, like twelve or 13 years ago.
[00:48:56] Patrick: Yeah, and they're still fundraising today. I know. Actually, I logged into their website just to get some facts about what they've done lately, and they have a whole page for their Thon fundraising. So definitely support them if you're going to donate.
[00:49:09] Sean: Absolutely. There's so many great groups around for Thon. Find the one that fits what you're interested in if you are an alum and want to support their efforts for the kids. Now, Patrick, as we're wrapping up. What is a final piece of advice that you would have for students that didn't come up organically in our conversation based on the questions I already asked?
[00:49:28] Patrick: I actually gave this piece of advice to a family friend of mine that's looking to land her first job. And actually, we spend so much of our I think most people at least spend so much of their early career trying to fit in through college into their early working career trying to fit in. And it was only pointed out to me, sadly, only just recently, that we should be spending a lot more time trying to stand out. That's what gets you the promotion, the accolades, whatever it is that you're seeking, it's because you're standing out and not because you're fitting in. And so whatever it is that you can do to sort of say or show up differently, there's small things you can do. There's big things you can do. But whatever it is that you think helps bring the bet, show up as you in your unique way, that's what you should be doing.
[00:50:15] Sean: Absolutely. I think, especially in a Western American UK kind of context that is absolutely critical in our cultures. So that's a great piece of advice there, Patrick. Now, if a scholar wanted to reach out to you, they had questions that I didn't ask and really wanted to connect with you more and dive deeper into these topics. How can they connect with yeah, so.
[00:50:35] Patrick: LinkedIn is definitely the best way to get in touch with me on a professional basis. Fairly responsive there, as long as I can tell you're not one of the Bots or sponsored people. I'm very responsive there. So please reach out. If you have questions or just want to connect, that's fine, too. Don't be shy about pushing that connect button on LinkedIn.
[00:50:54] Sean: Just don't lead with the great offer that you have.
[00:50:57] Patrick: Exactly.
[00:50:59] Sean: And speaking, we've talked a little bit about retail, and obviously, Penn State has a very special retail outlet in the Berkeley Creamery ice cream. We always wrap up here by asking, if you were a flavor that you would find at the Penn State Berkeley Creamery, which would you be? And most importantly, Patrick, as a scholar, Alum, why would you be that flavor?
[00:51:17] Patrick: Once again, Sean, just absolutely killer transition, really. You are very good at so it happens to be my favorite flavor from the creamery, so I had to basically try to fit it in. Why it's me. So it's the WPSU Coffee Break, and I think it's me mostly because I'm always up to go grab a coffee, take that break, reset. So that's definitely mine. But yeah, definitely the best flavor, in my opinion. Just like the really thin chocolate chunks that they put in there. Just the perfect amount. It's great.
[00:51:49] Sean: Excellent. We have another for Team WPSU coffee break? After doing 50 some of these, Patrick, we've identified there are three. Teams of ice cream answers there's WPSU Coffee Break, Alumni Swirl, and the rest of the menu. So we've got another one for Team WPSU Coffee Break, but I think that is definitely the first answer like that one. So everybody has a different answer, which is really awesome. So I think that's a good one and probably how you got connected with the college in the first place, I imagine was probably getting a cup of coffee with our then gift officer, Jason Ganitez.
[00:52:18] Patrick: Right? Well, we actually connected at a Meet the Dean event in Boston and so it was in the evening, so I wouldn't have been coffee. But I think we did connect the next several times. Yeah, we would grab coffee for sure.
[00:52:29] Sean: Or maybe virtual coffee because during the pandemic.
[00:52:33] Patrick: Yeah.
[00:52:34] Sean: Well, Patrick, you provided a lot of helpful insights on everything from club sports and club baseball to consulting and know, breaking myths about the ease of engineering majors and being a donor at a young age, and data analytics and working at Nike. So I really appreciate this. If you're listening, I hope at this know we're right at the end. I hope you appreciated this conversation as well with Patrick Lucas. Thank you so much for joining us here on following the Gone, Patrick.
[00:53:02] Patrick: Yeah. Thanks, Sean. Thanks for once again for doing what you do and spreading the word of Schreyer and our alumni network and doing this for students. It's really great.
*GONG SOUND EFFECT*
[00:53:18] Sean: Thank you Scholars for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show proudly supports the Schreyer Honors College Emergency Fund, benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at raise.psu.edu/schreyer. Please be sure to hit the relevant subscribe, like, or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the College on Instagram and LinkedIn to stay up to date on news, events, and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or are a Scholar Alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on Following the Gong, please connect with me at [email protected]
. Until next time, please stay well and We Are!