Seventeen million emails a day delivered to 200,000 computer clients. A half terabyte of data per second pumped through an optical fiber network. Storage of 10 quadrillion bytes of information. And making sure that business-critical info flows unimpeded within banking giant JPMorgan Chase is Eric Ludwig ’93, vice president and manager of global core wide-area-network engineering.
Overseeing a team spread out at six locations globe-wide since 2008, Ludwig makes flow a part of his leadership, through what he calls “snowplow management.” “I clear the roads of all ‘administrivia’ so my engineers can come behind me and focus on the quality and technical work,” he says. “It’s a form of servant leadership that increases the success we can have as a team.”
Ludwig isn’t a hands-off leader, though. In January 2008, he flew to assist a JPMorgan Chase team in India in upgrading its network. Within days of Ludwig’s return home, a major network cable in the Mediterranean was cut, disrupting the web worldwide. “But because of the resiliency we built into our network, our stuff was up,” he says. “I thought, ‘I was a part of that. I helped get it approved, up, and tested. Our bank’s running, our customers can pick up the phone and get us, and our employees can keep working.’ It feels good to do something that makes a difference.”
Making that difference may not have happened if not for a game of pool. After moving from chemical engineering to math at Lafayette, Ludwig found himself shooting around the table with his academic adviser. “I asked him if he needed any help for the summer, and he found a place for me at the academic computing center,” Ludwig recalls. “A guest lecturer from AT&T gave a series of lectures on networking, which opened my eyes that computing wasn’t all about writing code,” he says. “I thought this could be something I make a career of.” An internship in computing, switching to a computer science major, and a new direction for the future resulted from that chance game.
Years later, that change in direction has taken a déjà vu course. JPMorgan Chase’s partnership with the University of Delaware gave Ludwig a chance to step into a guest lecturer role. “Maybe someone 20 years from now will have the same story as mine.”
Creating a balanced work/life flow matters to Ludwig, so he values the occasional opportunities that working from home give him with wife Amy Hohmann Ludwig ’93 and their son and daughter. He also balances the course of his life elsewhere, having served as an elder at his church and as a local night school instructor on single malt Scotch whiskies. He organizes Scotch tastings and once spent a week learning to create Scotch at a distillery in Scotland, which he claims was like “a Scotch fantasy camp.”
“Everything I have I really appreciate,” Ludwig says. “I’ve been blessed.”