Peter Hambling '82
Cofounder and President
Digital Control Inc.
A gift for the Yale Center for Customer Insights and the Alumni Fund
I grew up in Seattle surrounded by aviation. My father was an RAF pilot and worked for British Airways and then Royal Brunei Airlines. I got a pilot’s license at 16 and studied aeronautical engineering at UW and then low-speed fluid dynamics and turbulence at a NATO grad school in Brussels. I got into a PhD program at Cornell, but I realized that it was more fun working with people than with computers, so I decided to get an MBA and SOM was where I wanted to go. It was a major change in direction for me and I just loved it.
I worked at a number of places after SOM, including NASA, SPA, 3M, and Orbital Sciences, and then in 1991 I started a company called Digital Control Incorporated that designs electronic tracking systems for the kind of drills that allow companies to install fiber-optic cable, powerlines, sewer, water, or other utilities underground. We have offices in the United States, Germany, Australia, China, India, and Russia. We’ve sold our tracking systems into 69 countries so far. We have 60% of the world market and the future for us looks good. The type of business I run now requires a range of skills, and I find myself coming back to lessons I learned at SOM. You can understand all you want about finance and accounting, strategic planning, marketing, and operations research and so on, but at the end of the day, almost every business is a people engine. I came away from SOM with a fundamental conviction that it’s all about whom you have on board and how you manage all that energy and creativity. If you have good people and you create the right environment, the company will be successful, and the money is almost a sideshow.
I feel a very strong allegiance to SOM and am grateful for everything the school has done for me. SOM is a special place, a forward-thinking school where leaders and not just managers are created. I want to continue to help the school build its excellence any way I can. I’m proud to be part of such a high-caliber institution.