Brian E. Luedtke (BSChE ’85)
Vice president, Asia Pacific region, global corporate communications and clinical education, Hollister Inc.
We are honoring Brian as a chemical engineer and executive who has improved life for patients with chronic conditions by supporting innovative technology development, effective partnerships with healthcare providers, and sustained community engagement.
What appealed to you about chemical engineering when your high school counselors suggested it?
What they told me—and I have found this to be true—is that if you want to challenge yourself and have the greatest impact in the world, you should become a chemical engineer. That was very aspirational.
How did you choose to attend UW-Madison?
I came from a little town—Wisconsin Rapids—and I wanted to go do something bigger. Madison was like the big city to me. The opportunity to get a chemical engineering degree from the No. 1 school: I knew it was going to open new opportunities and new doors for me. I’ve worked in and lived all over the world. I’m incredibly grateful.
How did your experience in the College of Engineering shape your career path?
What stands out for me about chemical engineering is that it teaches analytical thinking and problem-solving skills. It also gives a process and system orientation. So when you have those two frameworks, you can apply them and it doesn’t matter that you’re not doing engineering and you’re doing commercial leadership or whatever you’re in. Those those skills apply.
When you think about your classes, does anything or anyone stand out?
I remember Professor Crosby incredibly well, because he ran summer lab. How do you forget about summer lab? Professor Dumesic was my advisor. Professor Bird stands out because he would come into class and open all the windows in the middle of winter, turn the heat down, and tell us to put our jackets on, and get our core temperature down so we could all live longer. We thought that was crazy. But of course, none of us were ever going to say a word!
How else did you spend your time as a student?
My roommates were in the business school. They would go drink beer about 10 every night and I’d be sitting in the library with my study mate, Bill Monfre. He was also a chemical engineer. We went to a lot of football games, basketball, hockey, whatever happened to be in town.
What advice would you give to students today?
Follow your heart. Follow your passion. If you can graduate from Madison as a chemical engineer, the world the world is wide open for you. You have endless opportunity.
Any hobbies or interests?
I love to be anywhere in the outdoors. I love being on my farm, and fishing, hiking, things like that. And I love to play golf.
Anyone you’d like to mention?
My parents. My wife, Karen, of 33 years. I have two daughters. Kate, who went to the Wisconsin School of Business. And Hannah went to Butler in Indianapolis, where she played soccer.