Mark Ritz is a 1972 graduate who went on to a successful career in the international automotive industry. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Mark decided on Purdue based on a combination of its engineering reputation and the value that it represented.
In high school, Mark was inspired by the emerging manned space flight program, so he enrolled in Air Force ROTC and aeronautical engineering at Purdue to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut. He partially funded his Purdue education through a combination of campus jobs, an academic scholarship and student loans.
While attending Purdue, Mark thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Triangle Fraternity. As a senior, he was editor of the Purdue Engineer Magazine. In addition to several engineering honor societies, Mark was selected for the journalism honor society and the Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society.
Over the course of his college career, Mark’s ambitions changed. He dropped Air Force ROTC and took elective courses in large scaled systems. Upon graduation, he accepted an offer from Ford Motor Company as a systems engineer in product development in order to acquire engineering work experience before attending graduate business school.
To further his education, Mark attended night school while working full time for Ford and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1975. He then took an educational leave from Ford to attend Harvard Business School full time, receiving his MBA in 1977. His previous editorship position at Purdue helped him land a summer internship with Newsweek magazine between his first and second years of business school. He returned to Ford in product planning, contributing to the development of Ford’s new line-up of compact trucks including the Ranger, the Aerostar and the Bronco II.
Later, Mark transitioned to the automotive supplier industry, focusing on electronics products. As Director of Product Planning for Bendix Electronics, he implemented their first product planning process. Following the Bendix acquisition by Siemens, Mark was made Director, Business Planning for two newly formed Siemens divisions during their start-up. Subsequently, he was responsible for strategic planning for the entire global automotive business.
He then became Director of Sales, Marketing and Planning for the automotive electronics division of United Technologies Automotive. He had responsibility for sales to GM and Chrysler as well as divisional marketing and strategic planning.
After UTA was acquired by Lear Corporation, Mark was promoted to Vice President Marketing and Business Development for the electrical/electronics division. He developed marketing plans as well as executed strategic partnerships with outside companies. This work led him into Lear’s mergers and acquisitions group as Vice President, Business Development.
In addition to executing acquisition and divestiture transactions, Mark was also responsible for corporate oversight of more than 30 international joint ventures, including the creation and start-up of several joint venture businesses. He sat on the boards of directors of seven JV’s, including several with Japanese and Korean partners. Mark retired from Lear at the end of 2008. He is now considering an encore career based on his interest in renewable energy.
“I am an example of the career flexibility provided by an aeronautical engineering degree. Opportunities are not limited to the aerospace industry. The degree doesn’t close any doors for future careers” Mark commented, “Aeronautical engineering is special because it not only teaches the engineering fundamentals and problem solving techniques, but demonstrates how these principles can be applied to awe inspiring designs such as jet planes and rockets.”
Mark and his wife Lee Gorman have been married for 21 years, and reside in Ann Arbor, Michigan with their two dogs. Lee has two business degrees, a BA & MBA, from the University of Michigan and a BSME from Lawrence Technological University. After a career in strategic planning and product development, primarily with Ford, Lee has run her own business, Barton Consulting Services, for the past three years.
Mark and Lee have given a very generous unrestricted gift of $300,000 to the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Our motivation was a combination of giving back and paying forward. We both place a great deal of importance on education and have created bequests for all of our alma maters.” Said Mark about his donation. “My Purdue engineering education was a significant factor in my ability to generate income throughout my career, so I’m returning a portion of my earnings to the school. Our bequest gives us the satisfaction of knowing that the funds will enable future students to pursue their dreams after we’ve passed on.”
Photo at left ~ Mark Ritz with the solar panels he installed in 2006 that provide approx 2/3 of his household electricity needs
Photo at right ~ Mark Ritz & Lee Gorman