Mechanical engineering was rigorous on its own. But the school emphasized having a broader perspective and being exposed to more than just your curriculum. All of that has paid huge dividends over the years.
If you talk to Lance Fritz ’85 about his time at Bucknell, he will tell you about teamwork, grit and bonding, not to mention fellowship, responsibility and accountability.
His first three comments are testaments to his years on the University’s crew team; the latter are lessons ingrained through his membership in Delta Upsilon fraternity. Fritz juggled these activities while pursuing a mechanical engineering degree.
Today, Fritz has quite a bit more juggling to do as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Union Pacific, an iconic $21.8-billion freight railroad company based in Omaha, Neb., that is among the largest railroad franchises in the nation. Union Pacific operates 8,500 locomotives across more than 32,000 miles of track in 23 states.
“Freight railroads like Union Pacific are the vascular system of our economy,” Fritz says. “We have such a rich heritage, and you can see it and feel it in our team. It’s an exceptional group of people.”
Fritz joined Union Pacific in July 2000 after stints at GE; Cooper Industries, an electrical-products manufacturer; and Fiskars, a consumer-supply company. He became president and chief executive officer in February 2015 and chairman eight months later.
Fritz — who earned his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management — also chairs the board of directors of the United Way of the Midlands in Omaha and serves on the boards of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Omaha Symphony and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.
A founding member of Bucknell’s crew team, Fritz says he and his teammates scrounged for rowing equipment, a ride to the river and even a coach for the team. Most important, at Bucknell he met his wife, Julie Crenson Fritz ’85, with whom he has two children.
Fritz says his Bucknell pursuits played a critical role in shaping the way he leads Union Pacific. “Mechanical engineering was rigorous on its own. But the school emphasized having a broader perspective and being exposed to more than just your curriculum,” he says. “All of that has paid huge dividends over the years.”
Check out the Speaking of Success video series, where Lance Fritz talks about his career experience and discusses how Bucknell prepared him to lead.