Since graduating with master's degrees in public policy and business administration, Luke Lindberg MPP ’13 has made use of both of his interests throughout his career. After working in international business for a company in Sioux Falls, S.D., Lindberg recently served as the chief of staff and chief strategy officer for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) from 2019 to 2021, putting the versatility of his degrees to use.
“The ability to clearly and articulately write memos that are understood by executives in a timely manner has been incredibly vital to my day-to-day job,” says Lindberg. “I frequently go back to the one-page memo concept that we developed [at SPP] and use that sort of template and model to effectively communicate.”
During his time at EXIM, an independent federal agency that helps U.S. businesses finance and facilitate the export of their goods and services, Lindberg served as the agency’s second-highest official, which included managing EXIM’s nearly $60 billion portfolio, running day-to-day operations, and overseeing the communications, external engagement and congressional affairs departments.
While Lindberg also oversaw the policy team at EXIM, the agency itself is not as policy-oriented as many other parts of the federal government — instead they focus on supporting business transactions. Despite this focus, he frequently relied on the problem-solving techniques he learned at SPP.
“There is a problem-solving or process orientation you learn at SPP that gives you a firm understanding about how the policy gets made,” explains Lindberg. “When I was in classes, I genuinely tried to learn and understand the policy process from the professors, and in doing that, I gained a better grasp of how these things work.”
Lindberg also cites his dual master’s program as integral to his success in the international sphere. Through the two programs, he gained complementary skills which helped him to develop a career in the private and public sectors.
“The more international your business is, the more you have to understand policy to be effective,” says Lindberg. “Each market, each jurisdiction, each government has a different set of policies and rules you have to play by. The ability to adapt the policy concepts learned at SPP to the business basics that I learned in my MBA program has been the key to a lot of my success.”
For policy students and professionals interested in Lindberg’s career trajectory, he recommends focusing on developing strong leadership skills. In particular, Lindberg remembers his mentor Associate Dean Nina Harris as a major influence in his career.
“I was a Rawlings Undergraduate Leadership Fellow,” Lindberg says. “The leadership skills I learned in that program are very applicable every day, from managing a large number of people and understanding how people function in group dynamics to effectively managing conflict.”
Lindberg encourages students to reflect on their relationships with peers and genuinely celebrate the success of others. While it is important to be goal-oriented, Lindberg advises against an overly competitive attitude.
“Be driven, but not competitive,” says Lindberg. “You should take a look at the people around you and find ways to stay in touch with them, so as you pursue your goals, you can help them pursue theirs. The idea that you can have personal success while also helping others success is incredibly valuable in today’s marketplace.