Stephen David has seen a lot happen at the UNL College of Business Administration from his time as a student in the late 60s to today as he serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board. He has seen the college grow and believes he knows a key to making it even better.
“I spend a lot of time each year writing down the things I believe,” David said. “Whether they are business or personal beliefs, it’s important I know things such as the skills I will need, the technologies I need to know and what’s happening in the environment that will make me successful.”
David, who worked most of his career at Procter & Gamble, including becoming chief information officer (CIO), spoke to an auditorium of business students during recent B-Week events at CBA and stressed the importance of students knowing their beliefs.
“My challenge to students is to start thinking about what they believe, because it will define their passions and give them clarity on things going on around them,” he said. “I spent many nights working at a punch card machine in college. I didn’t always enjoy it, but it taught me to think logically and learn you can’t skip any steps. It taught me to learn how things work and not deviate from the program.”
Along with the discipline, he learned in ROTC and spending two years after college in the U.S Army as a first lieutenant, David believes his college education at CBA was pivotal in shaping his beliefs.
“CBA really stayed with me the rest of my life,” he said. “Getting exposed to a multiplicity of topics from marketing to statistics to business law to computer classes, all helped shape me. It expanded the curiosity in me and I ended up working on innovation and IT business transformations almost all of my entire career, including starting Procter & Gamble’s innovation centers.”
David built his first computer at Procter & Gamble in 1976, though it was not until he started running company businesses overseas in the 1980’s that his eyes really opened.
David talks to business students in the Nebraska Union
“That opened the horizon to me that I could compete with anybody and do the job. My whole vision of what was possible expanded with the opportunity to run a business out of Athens, Greece, and later in Saudi Arabia.”
In his talk, David told students to remember they have the capacity to compete globally.
“I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, but I competed in my career with people from Sorbonne, CERN, Harvard and Yale,” David said. “You have the tools here at Nebraska to compete, and if you truly can be curious and dabble, you will be successful. There will always be someone who’s smarter, but it doesn’t mean you can’t compete and win. You just need the work ethic I see from many here in the Midwest.”
He also believes it is important CBA continues to become a leader in business education.
“I want every kid to have Nebraska as the first place they want to come to get a business education,” he said. “Donde Plowman brings that kind of passion to get that done. It will take time, but with the new building and putting together a holistic program, we can get it done.”