I had the opportunity to interview the successful Rutgers Alumnus Marvin “Marv” Schlanger over the summer. Marv has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Rutgers University and an MS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts. He received the Medal of Excellence Award from the School of Engineering in 2016 for his outstanding accomplishments. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of UGI Corporation, a natural gas and electric utility company, though he is transitioning out of this role to prepare for his well-deserved retirement in January. Marv started his career with Mobil and moved to ARCO Chemical Company in technical roles and ultimately became CFO in 1989, COO in 1994, and President and CEO in 1998. Marv transitioned into these essential business roles without even obtaining an MBA; he did so by working hard to learn the material and by learning from his knowledgeable teams. He knew from the beginning of his career that he wanted to be “close to the action” in terms of business administration and he made sure that he always was by making good impressions on his supervisors and putting in the work needed to get promotions and move up ladders. As a Chemical Engineer, Marv saw the principles of material energy balances in his work even in business; when looking at financial statements he was always able to point out things that even the most experienced businesspeople had missed because he saw everything as a flow rate. We discussed the role of luck in a successful career; though Marv recognizes that luck certainly counts in career advancements, he also believes that it is essential to put oneself in a position to be lucky. For example, he had the choice to move across the country at various points in his career to work for businesses that those around him doubted. By trusting his instincts, he made these difficult choices that put him in the position to succeed as much as he had.
Marv’s advice was extremely useful to me as I have been questioning my post-graduate plans recently. I have been debating getting a technical graduate degree and with Marv’s advice and perspective I feel better equipped to make this difficult decision. One piece of advice that I found most useful were his Six Rules of Career Management, which are as follows: 1. You are responsible for your own career 2. Set objectives for yourself 3. Set up plans to accomplish these objectives 4. Never take a job just for the money 5. Never take a job that you’re not interested in because you think it will put you in a position to get a job that you are interested in 6. Be the go-to person, put the score on the scoreboard. These rules can apply to so many situations and I can start to use them in my life even now as an undergraduate. He also told me the importance of resilience – people will say no to me and it’s important to make sure you handle it when they do. I am thinking differently about my current goals based on these standards and think that his advice will make them stronger and make me better capable of achieving them. Marv and I also got to discuss his charity work with the Palm Beach Jewish Community Relations Committee and the Jewish National Fund as well as work with Rutgers Hillel where I serve on the student board. Marv has such confidence in Chemical Engineers and hearing about his experience and successes I feel confident as well. He is an excellent example of what a Rutgers graduate can do with their degree and I am proud to have him as a professional mentor and role model now. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to speak to Marv and look forward to maintaining the connection in the future.
Written by Grace Herdelin, CBE '22