College of Business: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Building Value for Your Company, for Yourself


Steven Strobel.“You have an experience tool box on your back, and you should put as many tools in there as possible.”

Steven J. Strobel, senior vice president and corporate controller for Motorola, reflected on his experiences at Motorola and throughout his career, during the Alan M. Hallene Lecture for undergraduate students in The Hoeft Technology & Management Program in mid-February.

Strobel told the students, faculty, and community members that initially he did not know what direction his career would take. “I had no idea,” he said. The 1980 graduate of the University of Illinois advised students that in order to build value as an employee, you have to understand the way the company works. “Your job is to become a preferred employee,” he said.

He explained that the way that people “keep score” in business is by assessing market capitalization, and that this is done by measuring sales growth and consistent improvement in return on investment. Strobel advised that the role of management is to drive employees to work as one company, to have the right people in the right jobs, and to offer an overarching vision. Strobel asked each audience member to think “What am I doing and how does it fit into the larger company vision?”

Motorola recently launched their i’MOTO program that encourages employees to see one Motorola with a shared vision for the firm. Acknowledging that “the bedrock of the company is the technology we have,” Strobel also noted that all the staff have to “be there to win.”

"You're in charge of your employability."Strobel insisted that students build strong working relationships and keep their toolbox filled with experiences in order to be successful. He said that the long-term is merely a series of short-terms, and you should establish the larger framework and work towards it, one step at a time. Strobel completed his lecture by fielding questions from the audience about his experiences in management at Motorola. With each response, he stressed the importance of working toward a series of short-term goals within a larger company vision. “You’re in charge of your employability,” he said.

Steven J. Strobel received a BS in accountancy from Illinois and an MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago. He began his career in 1980 as a certified public accountant and has held positions at American Hospital Supply Corporation and Kraft. Before joining Motorola in April 2003, Strobel was the vice president of finance and treasurer for Owens Corning.


--Melissa Paraf

UIUC College of Business