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Eric Moraczewski, executive director of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation. Photo by Ron Klein

Eric Moraczewski was sitting in an Executive MBA classroom at Olin’s Knight Center on a spring evening almost exactly two years ago when he felt the phone vibrate in his pocket. He excused himself and answered the call from a board member at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

“It was a quick call,” Moraczewski said. “One of the board members said Maggie let us know she’s leaving. He said, ‘We’d like you to run the foundation.'”

Maggie Hales, then president and executive director of the foundation and Moraczewski’s boss, had resigned. So over lunch at Bobo Noodle House the next day, the board member and Moraczewski worked out the details and just like that, he assumed control over a $380 million project to renovate one of the country’s most beloved icons. After a brief interim period, Moraczewski took on the executive director permanently in October.

Just a few months earlier, he’d been hired as the foundation’s CFO—the result of another fateful phone call at 3 a.m., while Moraczewski was in Asia running his consulting firm, FDI Strategies. Then, a recruiter was on the line letting him know an opportunity was available.

“It was one of those opportunities that you only get once—if you’re lucky, twice—in your life,” Moraczewski said. “The Arch is one of those world symbols.”

EMBA Education Brought Confidence

A few weeks after taking the reins at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, Moraczewski received his Executive MBA from WashU. The experience supplemented the skills he needed to establish and brand his own consulting firm targeting companies doing business in Asia. And it also gave him the confidence to stand in front of a “who’s who” of civic leaders on the foundation’s board and provide mission-focused updates.

Eric Moraczewski, EMBA '16, interviewed at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation offices.

Eric Moraczewski, EMBA ’16, interviewed at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation offices.

“There are some intimidating people in that room if they wanted to be. They’re not. They’re great people,” he said.

The class connections are also invaluable. He’s recruited one of his classmates for the foundation’s young friends board and another—Eric Maddox, a former Army interrogator whose work led to Saddam Hussein’s capture—will be a featured speaker at the Arch’s Veterans Day event.

Moraczewski speaks highly of Sam Chun, Olin assistant dean and director of executive education, for the way he could “see how an idea grows into a business, how quickly he’d progress through that.” Frans VanOudenallen, director of career development, helped inspire Moraczewski to a wholesale overhaul of personal branding for his consulting business.

“I never really tried in undergrad or in high school. It came fairly easy to me. I didn’t get as much out of it as a I should have,” he said. “This was the first time I chose education as opposed to just going through the steps. It had a different meaning.”

A Time of Transition for the Arch

Since Moraczeski took over the foundation’s leadership, the milestones have come fast and furious for the project he manages with five other major stakeholders: the city of St. Louis, Great Rivers Greenway, the National Park Service, Bi-State Development, and the Jefferson National Parks Association.

Each has a piece of the project. One manages the park trails. Another manages the museum gift shop. One operates the tram to the top of the monument. The park service manages the grounds.

But it’s the Gateway Arch Park Foundation that raised the lion’s share of the funding—$221 million—to accomplish the massive overhaul of the park grounds, renovate the museum, and construct a park walkway over Interstate 44. That piece of the project opened on March 26.

“We oversee the design and construction of the project,” Moraczewski said. “But we’re transitioning into a conservancy role. A big reason I was brought in was to develop that strategy. We want to make sure it doesn’t fall into wreck and ruin after we’ve just spent $380 million renovating it.”

A year ago, Moraczewski shepherded the foundation—previously known as CityArchRiver Foundation—through a rebranding to better highlight its connection to the Gateway Arch. He’s launched a membership program at the Arch grounds offering early access to museum exhibits, free parking, free tram rides up the Arch, and other perks.

And he’s making it a priority to give regional residents more reasons to come to the newly revitalized venue. Most residents historically visit every six to 10 years. That has to change, Moraczewski said.

“They paid for this; they should use it,” he said. “What we’ve found is that if you grew up here, this is where you had your first date. It’s where you grew up. But if you’re under 40, you don’t have that experience.”

Launching the Blues at the Arch concert series in 2016 was one initiative designed to draw local residents—and it worked. In that first year, 4,000 attended. A year later, attendance mushroomed to 18,000.

Meanwhile, Moraczewski never tires of hearing stories from visitors about the first time they visited the 52-year-old landmark. As the renovation winds to its close and his team prepares for the July 3 grand opening for the fully completed project, he’s doing interviews with The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, national television networks, and other media outlets around the globe.

“It weighs on me more now than at any other time. Earlier, it was all about the excitement of the construction. Now that we’re prepared to open, we’d better not let down the community,” he said. “I have no doubt that we will not.”




Eric Maddox, EMBA graduate, 2016.

Eric Maddox has been a four-times-decorated US Army interrogator, known for bringing in the intelligence that led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. He’s an author, who detailed the five-month hunt for the former Iraqi leader in his 2008 book Mission: Black List #1. He’s a motivational speaker, consultant, and negotiator. He’s an Olin alumnus who earned his Executive MBA in 2016.

And he’s recently added a new item to his long list of credentials: He’s now a podcaster.

Maddox launched the first episode of his online show “Creating Influence” on January 4 with a nearly five-minute introduction that explains how he has moved from a military interrogator to a professional negotiator.

“I was taught to use interrogation techniques that were zero sum game—they were intimidating, they were harsh—but I quickly realized they didn’t work at all,” Maddox says in his introduction. “What I learned to do was to connect, collaborate, negotiate, understand, and work with my prisoners.”

Now, he says, after 15 years of negotiating and interrogating, talking and attempting to influence people, he’s learned a few lessons that he says will apply to anyone—not just military prisoners.

“The bottom line is that when you talk to somebody, your goal is to connect with them, get to understand them, build trust with them, in order that they make a decision to follow you, to believe in you, to partner with you,” he said. “But all of that, that decision they make, that comes from the influence that you give to them.”

Maddox explains that the weekly podcast takes a deep dive into the psychology of influence and how to hone skills that will serve individuals in their businesses and daily lives.

Episodes focus on themes such as “the single most effective behavioral characteristic a person can have to maximize influence” and, in his most recent episode today, “what helps fuel hope, which aids in perseverance.”




Transitioning from the military into a civilian business career means learning how to adapt your passion and apply existing skills in a new way, according to three Olin Executive MBA graduates who highlighted their own transition in a recent piece published by U.S. Veterans Magazine.

“In the military, you’re always looking for ways to become more efficient to provide the highest level of service to your country,” said Don Halpin, who served in the US Air Force for 20 years before earning his EMBA in 2016 and becoming healthcare systems engineer at Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center in Peoria.

“In healthcare, it’s a similar situation,” he said. “I love that I’m able to aid in bettering the lives of our patients, and the EMBA played a large part in that.”

Eric Maddox, who served in the US Army as an interrogator, found he could make connections between his experience and his business savvy now as a motivational and keynote speaker who tailors his talks to his audience, reflecting business trends he mastered in the classroom.

“I quickly realized how my experience in the intel world and war zone can directly apply to businesses and private organizations,” said Maddox, a 2016 EMBA alumnus.

“The EMBA program provided the perfect forum to tie together and finish off the leadership, strategic thinking, and management skills I developed through my years of experience in the military,” said Harry Schmidt, a 20-plus-year veteran of the US Air Force and Air Force Academy who is now president and CEO of Passavant Area Hospital in Springfield, Illinois. He also earned his degree in 2016.

Read the full story in U.S. Veterans Magazine online.

 


Eric Maddox, decorated Army veteran and May 2016 graduate of the Executive MBA program assisted in the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003. He will share his experience as an interrogator for a Special Operations Task Force in Iraq on the CNN series “Declassified: Untold Stories of American Spies” scheduled to air June 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

Maddox spoke at Olin’s Century Club lecture earlier this year and shared his interrogation tactics that led to crucial intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s location and his ultimate capture by U.S. forces. In an email, Maddox writes,

“The episode to air June 26 is called ‘Hunting Saddam.’ Last summer, CNN producers and crew came to my hometown and spent three days filming and interviewing.  I have since been able to view the final cut and am really proud of the job they did.”

Eric Maddox, current EMBA student, inspires the Century Club Speaker Series audience on innovation.

Eric Maddox, EMBA Class 45, addressed the Century Club in January 2016

While assigned to a Special Operations Task Force in Iraq, Maddox conducted over 300 interrogations and collected the intelligence which directly led to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

 




Confident in building relationships with the prisoners he was tasked to interrogate, Eric Maddox, current Executive MBA (Class 45) student and decorated veteran, credits innovation in interrogation techniques for the capture of Saddam Hussein. In 2003, while assigned to a Special Operations Task Force in Iraq, Maddox conducted over 300 interrogations and collected the intelligence which directly led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. Maddox shared his experience in Iraq at Olin’s Century Club speaker series on Jan. 28, 2016.

Capturing Saddam is about the inside story of Maddox’s role as an interrogator in the intelligence gathering operations that led to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Capturing Saddam is the inside story of Maddox’s role as an interrogator in the intelligence gathering operations that led to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

The first current student to speak at Century Club, Maddox talked about being sent to the Middle East after being trained as a Chinese Mandarin linguist. Assigned as an interrogator, Maddox quickly realized he needed to change his tactics to gather intelligence. The biggest change was becoming an excellent listener, a tool every good negotiator should have according to Maddox.

Maddox told the audience in Emerson Auditorium, that innovation can be applied to any field when you have a passion and confidence in  your mission. The challenge is finding out where to change the process, or “find the pain,” the obstacle that is keeping others from changing with you.

Maddox found the obstacle to changing interrogation techniques and gathering intelligence in the Army. He utilized that information and shared it with his team. These tactics not only led to the capture of Saddam Hussein, the “Ace of Spades,” but also changed interrogation tactics used the US military.

Maddox is now integrating knowledge gained from Olin’s EMBA program into his work as a consultant to corporations, organizations, and individuals on interrogation and debriefing techniques.

Learn more about the EMBA program here.

Learn more about Eric Maddox here.