Innovator Article

Rob Loranger Goes the Distance
Software Consultant Helps Clients Accelerate Productivity and Innovation

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It takes focus, commitment and endurance to train for and finish a marathon—the same qualities that help Rob Loranger excel at work and in the classroom.

Loranger started running in college as a way help stay in shape. He ran his first competitive race, a 10k, about nine years ago, and has steadily stepped up his training. At the Big Sur International Marathon in 2009, he finished four seconds under his goal of four hours. Over time running has evolved from a successful fitness strategy to teach Loranger some larger life lessons.

Having the experience of an MBA combined with a solid foundation in business will open doors and provide me with options in my future professional life. –Rob Loranger

On the race course, says Loranger, his competitive side kicks in, “allowing me to see what I have, how I stack up against other people.” He’s learned to think and act strategically, keeping his eyes on the prize. Running “has taught me what it takes to accomplish something that might not offer an immediate return,” he says.

A first-year student in the Bay Area Working Professional MBA program, Loranger has been a software consultant at Embarcadero Technologies, Inc., in San Francisco since 2005. The privately held global software firm has more than 500 employees in 29 countries and annual revenues north of $100 million. Embarcadero serves more than 90 of the Fortune 100 companies, and 97 percent of the Global 2000 companies. It has more than three million users in thousands of companies in demanding vertical industries, such as health care, technology, entertainment, finance and education. Embarcadero’s tools enable its customers to leverage all of the industry’s major database platforms, operating systems, frameworks and programming languages.

Loranger uses his problem-solving skills and technical know-how honed as an electrical engineering major at the University of California, Santa Barbara, to make life easier for developers, architects and database administrators. He helps them build IT environments that enhance staff productivity, optimize costs, streamline compliance and accelerate development and innovation.

Pursuing his MBA, he says, is expanding his skill set to become a product manager, which he compares to being a business owner within a company, with ultimate responsibility for a product’s success. As a product manager, he says, he would work with a cross-disciplinary team, including the software firm’s marketing department to convey the product’s value to customers, as well as with the sales and finance departments to set price points. He sees a product manager experience as a stepping stone to prepare to run his own company.

Loranger chose the Working Professional MBA program in part because it allows him the freedom to tailor his courses to his needs, rather than forcing him to choose one area of focus. “Having the experience of an MBA combined with a solid foundation in business will open doors and provide me with options in my future professional life,” he says. There are both immediate and longer-term returns.

The core marketing course has opened his eyes to the bigger picture. “You should look at your product not as a set of features and functionality but rather as what kind of value the customer will derive from it,” he says.

In his spare time, Loranger volunteers at the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, which runs the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. “It’s fun to be there,” he says. “There’s good energy at the market.” Loranger once considered becoming a chef and worked in the restaurant industry as a catering assistant, bartender and waiter. He enjoys working close to food, supporting the local economy and organic farming.

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