(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a two-part series profiling Jack Studer, Interim Executive Director of Chattanooga’s CO.LAB, and the role the organization plays in the city’s vibrant ecosystem.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
The words energetic, passionate, enthusiastic, animated, and forward thinking come to mind in describing Jack Studer, Interim Executive Director of Chattanooga’s CO.LAB.
We had the opportunity recently to have our first-ever extended discussion with the Chattanooga native who has already established himself as a “key player” in the GIG CITY’s economic infrastructure at the ripe old age of 34.
Studer was a Co-Founder and Partner in the Lamp Post Group and Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder of Torch until he left both early last year. He’s been a General Partner in the Chattanooga Renaissance Fund for more than six years and became Chair of the Board of Erlanger Health System in late 2015.
“I feel really lucky,” Studer says. “What I’m able to do in Chattanooga is awesome.”
The Baylor School graduate headed to Princeton University in 2001 to study operations research and financial engineering and immediately headed to Wall Street where he worked for two years as an Investment Banking Analyst in the Technology Group at Credit Suisse. He helped co-found a start-up and was involved in other ventures before returning to his hometown in 2010.
“I had been involved in CO.LAB and its programs for a while as a volunteer,” Studer says. As such, when then Executive Director Mike Bradshaw left to accept the position of Director of the JENSEN HUGHES Academy, Studer agreed to step-in.
“I am truly trying to be the Interim Executive Director,” he says, comparing it to the role of an interim fiancée. “The ship is built, it’s sitting in the harbor, and we’re determining where it heads.”
Studer says the examination involves not only tweaking the vision of CO.LAB, but also determining the role of the Executive Director. That process, which involves input from many individuals, should be completed later this month.
“CO.LAB is so important to the community that this organization has to have the right leadership,” Studer adds. “We’re trying to have the best person and best vision for CO.LAB and the best thing for Chattanooga.”
Once the plan for the future is in place, he’ll determine if it’s something he wants to pursue and, more important, if he’s the right fit. If Studer decides that he wants to be a candidate, someone else will run the search. If not, he’ll most likely oversee the selection of the next Executive Director.
In the meantime, Studer is bringing his energy, passion, enthusiasm and forward thinking to the interim role.
NEXT: Some of the thoughts about Chattanooga that Studer shared with us.