Mike Lamach Shares a Lifetime of Wisdom in the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series

Dr. Alphonso Ogbuehi, Mike Lamach and Chasity Boyce

Charlotte, N.C./April 24, 2024 - Mike Lamach is the retired CEO of Trane Technologies and a member of the JCSU Board of Trustees. On the evening of Wednesday, April 24, 2024 he was the featured speaker of the Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series, sponsored by the Johnson C. Smith University College of Business. Chasity Boyce, Managing Director of US and European Business Management Barings, LLC, served as co-moderator of the conversation, alongside Dr. Alphonso Ogbuehi, Dean of the College of Business.

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Dr. Alphonso Ogbuehi and Mike Lamach

Mike Lamach, a heavy-hitter in the corporate world, grabbed the attention of students, staff, faculty, and community members gathered inside the New Science auditorium.  He offered a meditation on the early days:  Motor City in the 1960s, hard-working parents, an  immigrant grandparents.  When Mike was six years old he endured what he called, " a devastating loss." His father - Mike's hero -  passed away. To fill the financial void, Lamach's mother worked overtime. 

The autobiographical recounting came with lessons. The early years of struggle set a foundation for life.  Hard work can hasten opportunity, providing a step up and way out.  

"In my business career, I took on many challenges. We moved 13 times. I kept saying 'yes' to different opportunities."

As a young adult, Lamach said "yes" to love, too.  First came love, then came marriage.  In the middle, there was one hurdle: the $2300 price tag on the ring.  Mike, as a young executive, worked hard and achieved the goal. While hard work paid off, goal-setting created incentive. Over the years through hard work and goal-setting, Lamach became what he calls "an accidental CEO."

 Dean Ogbuehi wanted to know the recipe: "What are the strategies you deployed to reach success?"  he prodded.

Lamach says his core strategies were instilled in him by his parents and his grandparents, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Poland. The message can be drilled down to core values and soft skills. "Saying yes, thank you, and you're welcome.”

For example, during the first 90 Days on a job, especially as a leader, Lamach says it is important, to stop, look, and listen. "Go out to visit, listen and understand what we were doing and what it's all about." Imagine the future and then go get it. "Create a vision that is aspirational but doable"

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JCSU students who attended the event

For his part, Mike Lamach dreams big. During his time at Trane Technologies, he created a way to eliminate 99% of carbon emissions from  commercial systems.  The team launched the $500 million plan in the marketplace.  "It was so successful," Lamach confessed."1 billion metric tons out of the universe."

For the former CEO and dedicated family man, it was important to be the change.

"In the next 20 years, I think about how the company will fundamentally change global warming. We were one of the first companies to have a scientific goal to eliminate carbon emissions."  For the team, the professional win supported the greater good. 

The greater good notwithstanding, Chasity Boyce wanted to know about the challenges. Lamach volleyed back. "Without a doubt it was Covid." It was an event that paralyzed US society across the board. For his part, Lamach established a goal was to balance long term earnings with short term objectives to keep people safe: 1) balance supply and demand 2) create aspirational and attainable goals 3) pivot and adapt. 

In the end, Mike LaMach maintains corporate values must intersect with good stewardship, lessons he learned at work and at home. Embrace respect, courage, integrity and inclusion. Everything else will fall into place.

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