Mark Lucas Takes the Wheel as CBA Career Services Director
After 15 years at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) USA, Mark Lucas decided it was time to shift gears in his career. His plan was to find a strategic planning position at another company, but just when he was starting to seriously consider making a move, he learned about the new Director of Career Services opening at LMU through networking. He had always had a strong interest in recruiting and served as one of Toyota’s MBA recruiting leads for over seven years, interviewing hundreds of candidates from many business schools and acting as a mentor to new hires.
“The more I learned about the position, the more I fell in love with it,” said Mark. “I have a genuine passion for recruiting MBAs and helping them succeed. This is a great fit for me because I can also bring an employer’s perspective to the process. I know what employers are looking for when hiring MBAs and how the recruiting process differs between industries. On top of that, LMU is a wonderful university, and I’m very proud to be part of the CBA’s continued rise in prominence.”
Mark officially joined LMU’s College of Business Administration in January and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in strategy, planning, management, business and product development, marketing, research, and recruiting. His most recent role at Toyota was to establish a new group to serve as the marketing strategy liaison between product planners in L.A. and engineers in Michigan, injecting “voice of the customer” directly into the vehicle development for the first time. (Fun fact: In 1999, Mark led the team responsible for the naming of Toyota’s Sequoia and Highlander SUVs. “If you don’t like those names, you know whom to blame,” he confesses.) Prior to Toyota, Mark worked in the Planning & Evaluation group at Atlantic Richfield Company’s global headquarters, in addition to doing planning and engineering for the U.S. Air Force and working at a boutique consulting firm in Southern California.
“Mark is a wonderful addition to the College of Business Administration and has already added a great deal of value to students and alumni as we capitalize on our phenomenal ranking,” said Jack Gregg, Associate Dean and Director of the MBA Program.
A native of Los Angeles, Mark says he had two passions as a kid: airplanes and the military. He completed his undergraduate studies at the United States Air Force Academy and California State University, Long Beach, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering along with membership in Tau Beta Pi and Pi Tau Sigma engineering honor societies. Mark went on to earn his MBA from USC because he wanted to expand his business foundation and “do something more strategic.”
Toyota ended up being a perfect fit for Mark because he was able to do strategic planning in an industry he thought was fun and interesting. For six years, he led the Lexus strategy group, where he and his team were responsible for all aspects of strategy and research for the brand, its competitors and the luxury/affluent market. He had a number of proud moments during his tenure at Toyota, such as helping to create the Scion brand and reinvigorating the Lexus brand as younger and sportier. Mark is drawing on his vast experience in strategy and business as he prepares to take the MBA Career Services program to the next level.
“In order to have a successful career services program, we need to be able to meet the needs of four constituents: students, employers, alumni, and college administration,” says Mark.
In only a few short months, he’s managed to successfully reengage graduate business students through networking events, student-alumni mixers and career-related panel discussions. Response has been very positive from MBA students who are looking to make new connections and learn more about their chosen industries.
“Many MBA students told me they would like to see more career-related events,” said Mark. “Career Services is planning exactly that, and the key to making that happen is active MBA student participation: the more students who attend, the bigger, better and more diverse the events we can offer – and more importantly, the higher number of quality companies and individuals who’ll want to come to LMU and meet our MBAs. We will have more events in the fall, and I look forward to seeing even more students, faculty and staff joining us.”
Mark says his biggest challenge is engaging more employers to actively recruit LMU MBAs. In the past, this wasn’t as big a priority for Career Services since MBA students working full-time tended to stay put after graduation. That’s no longer the case.
“Dean Dennis Draper made it clear that one of his biggest priorities for me is to expand the recruiting base," said Mark. "In some ways, that’s challenging because our MBA program is smaller than others in Southern California, and we don’t have the sheer quantity of students for which some employers are looking. At the same time, the very personal and flexible nature of our program appeals to other firms. Fortunately, LMU already has excellent relationships with many of the best and most sought-after companies in California, and it will be great partnering with them.”
One thing’s for certain: it didn’t take long for Mark to fit in with the culture at LMU. His sharp wit and creative vision have ignited fresh energy into the MBA program and he’s already made strong connections with a number of MBA students.
“I love working with people and MBA students are especially enthusiastic about their future goals,” says Mark. “I like to think of myself as an optimist and I am incredibly confident in the future of this program. Thanks to Dean Draper and Lesley Adams, my Assistant Director, a lot has been done already to set the foundation in place. That said, there’s so much more that can be done, should be done, and will be done – and we’re going to have a lot of fun in the process.”
Fasten your seatbelts, folks.