An Interview with Luke Dantin: Project Management Director

Photo of Luke holding a sloth
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Luke, welcome back to Tulane. I know you did your undergrad here, and we are happy to now have you as our Director of Project Management. What did you study at Tulane? I studied Biomedical Engineering. Originally, I wanted to become a doctor, but I accidentally tested into high level Latin and didn’t want to have to take it for my language requirement. Engineering allowed me to skip a language requirement, and funny enough I ended up really enjoying and being interested in it.

Wait. How did you accidentally test into high level Latin? Well I studied Latin in high school, because I thought I would be a history teacher. Turns out, I hated Latin. When I took the language test for Tulane, I tried to bomb it so I could test into the lowest level class, and I accidentally got everything correct. They wanted me to take Latin poetry. It was a nightmare.

And what did you do after you graduated? My first job after Tulane was desktop support at East Jefferson General Hospital working the nightshift. The only thing scarier than Latin Poetry is cleaning computer monitors at 2am in the morgue. From there I became a software engineer, then an integration architect. After that I worked for GE as an agile software project manager for 4 out of 8 of their business units. Now I’m here.

We’re happy to have you here and to see what you bring. Can you tell us some of your goals? I’m excited to help the IT department become more agile.

Can you explain what agile means from a project management perspective? Of course. Traditionally projects are run in a way where you get the requirements, work, and deliver a project however many months later. In agile projects, you deliver small pieces of the project over small pieces of time, so you can make changes as you go.

Hmmm… I’m from Cut Off so I’ll liken it to gumbo. In traditional, “waterfall,” delivery a customer would ask for gumbo, and I would make it and deliver it. Then the customer would say, “I don’t like it. I wanted chicken gumbo and you made seafood.” In agile delivery, I would chop up everything, let the customer see what I’ve done and say, “where’s the chicken?” and adjust right away. It’s all about getting frequent feedback so we get more value to the customer.

Great explanation. Thank you. I’m also excited to learn more about the inner workings of academia. I come from big business and industry, so it’s interesting for me to see what goes into making the student experience happen.

Before we wrap up, can you tell us more about who you are outside of work? Your interests? Sure. I’m really into reading, especially ancient history nonfiction. I love classic movies like Sunset Boulevard and Doctor Strangelove. I’ve traveled to every continent aside from South America and Antarctica. Oh, and I’m a total foodie.

What’s your favorite restaurant in New Orleans? China Rose. Easily. Ask for the Szechuan menu.

Well everyone, looks like we need to check out China Rose! Luke, thank you again for taking the time to sit down with us.