In December 1976, veteran George Lang was one of 28 students to graduate from St. Thomas’ first-ever MBA class, marking the beginning of a legacy that has grown into today’s Opus College of Business. Moving from a background in mathematics, Lang went on to transition to a longtime career in finance and real estate, start his own consulting company and most recently, join the Graduate Business Alumni Board this past September.
A lifelong resident of St. Paul, Lang says he got his start in the military in JROTC while still a student at Cretin High School (which became Cretin-Derham Hall in 1987). He went on to study mathematics at the University of Notre Dame, where he was a member of ROTC. After his graduation in June 1964, he spent two years in the army. He was pulled into a unit at Fort Lewis in Washington, landing in military intelligence, an area in which he would spend his entire army career. A year later, when President Johnson decided to move American troops into Vietnam, Lang found himself in the company of 5,000 men of the first infantry division, who sailed over to Vietnam to prepare the way. Lang described the experience as “not like the current day military, but not like the World War II military. It was, ‘Go out and try to eliminate the enemy,’ who was very clandestine.”
Upon his return a year later, Lang had already written ahead of time to apply for and secure a job with St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company, now known as the Travelers Companies. For three years He worked primarily as a computer programmer before getting into a research analyst position. Lang and a partner introduced the company to the first personal computers, as well as the first terminals, as the new technology spread to the public at the end of the 1960s. “Quickly, it appeared to me I had reached the top of where I was,” Lang said, citing that this was the time he began looking for a graduate business program that would advance his career.