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Steven Krebs' 2019 Student Awards Banquet Acceptance Speech

Wednesday, April 3 2019 11:24am

On March 22, 2019, Steven Krebs '92 was honored with the College of Business' R. Budd and Janet Kelsey Werner Executive Service Award at the 2019 Student Awards Banquet. Below is the speech he gave to the Nelson Commons crowd.

Tags: Alumni

Accepting the R. Budd and Janet Kelsey Werner Executive Service Award:

Thank you, Dean Sherman.

College of Business Administration, Faculty & Staff… Mr. Ron Calhoun, Janet Kelsey Werner, honorees, parents, and other special guests. It is great to see you all gathered here tonight in this special place called Athens, as we honor the accomplishments of so many hard-working students.

Ladies and gentlemen, what is service?

Merriam Webster defines "service" as the work performed by one that serves… or contributes to the welfare of others.

So, while service is defined technically as doing good for others, I can tell you that the opportunities I have had to serve others have likely done more for me than them!!! I think others, including my colleagues here tonight from the Dean's Executive Advisory Board will tell you the same thing. More to come on that …

I am humbled to be recognized by the College of Business for MY service, which rests deep in the shadows of what Budd Werner and Janet Kelsey Werner have individually and collectively have contributed to the organizations they associate themselves. For example:

Besides a successful professional career and being a family man, Budd Werner has been:

  • a member of the Financial Executive Institute
  • a member of the Lakewood (Ohio) City Council
  • a member of the North Muskegon (Michigan) School Board
  • a board member of the Appalachian Community Visiting Nurse Association, Hospice and Health Services
  • a member of the Interfaith Alliance of Southeastern Ohio
  • a colleague of mine on the College of Business Executive Advisory Board

Budd also served as an Executive-In-Residence at our College of Business, keeping it real for students and faculty alike by committing his personal time to educating students on content… but more importantly grounding them in how to apply that content in the workforce they would eventually enter.

Mr. and Mrs. Werner established the R. Budd & Janet Kelsey Werner Scholarship for undergraduate students enrolled full-time at Ohio University majoring in Accounting or Finance.

And, not only have they supported the Community Foundation of Lorain County and the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, but in 2002, R. Budd Werner and his wife, Janet Kelsey Werner committed to an estate-related gift of $500,000 to Ohio University's College of Business.

The Werners have been recognized by Ohio University numerous times for their continued service… and this is why the award I am receiving tonight carries their namesake. I had the pleasure of sharing stories with her last evening, and all I can say is: thank you and Budd for setting a high bar… and for leading by example, Janet Kelsey Werner.

Those of you who attended Ohio University and who have moved away from Athens, completely understand what a special place Athens is, and what a special institution Ohio University is. I am reminded of this every time I return to campus. In fact, I feel myself starting to grin as I start down that last hill on Route 33 behind Nelsonville, anticipating that sweeping view of the Hocking River, the South Green dorms, and eventually the football stadium and the Convocation Center. For those who have only been here for brief visits, you might not be able to relate, but I guarantee for those of you who are graduating, you will realize and understand what I just said in a matter of months after moving away and starting the next chapter of your life.

So… when should you begin your service to the College and the University?

How should you give back?

When should you start?

Should you wait until you are the president of your company?

Should you wait until you have a million dollars in the bank?

Should you wait until you retire and have more "spare time" on your hands?

The answer to each of these questions is an emphatic "NO"!

In some ways, I feel like I am preaching to the choir in speaking to this room tonight, because after reading through your accomplishments, most of you have already started your service to Ohio University: You have participated in student groups, clubs and events. You have been a leader in campus organizations. You have already given your time, money, and love to the things that mean something to you. And… in return you have likely traded-off some downtime or sleep in exchange for the feeling of accomplishment and reward. And, through your efforts, you have in some way touched the lives of others… directly or indirectly.

Don't stop!!

Just because you will walk across the stage at graduation and move away from Athens doesn't mean you should stop giving and caring about Ohio University and your College of Business. Don't allow the legacy of service and giving that you have already established fade or end abruptly. The university needs alumni like you to continue the journey you started at some point during your undergrad years. Trust me… you will receive a multiple of personal rewards back for every effort you put in.

Please let me provide you a few personal examples from my life:

In retrospect, I can now consider my string of efforts to support Ohio University service, by the definition of the word. But it started with a single event: my first employer approached me and asked: would you be willing to recruit for us at Ohio University? Let me think. Two years out of OU and living in Knoxville, Tennessee. I am unattached, in my 20's and I am making money. A free trip back to Athens? Yes of course, I will – I am in! But, on the way here, I realized that the trip provided me the opportunity to identify and enable the next generation of graduating Bobcat. And that reconnected me with Ohio University in a very meaningful and personal way. It wasn't work, but rather was a labor of love to travel and spend a day listening to Bobcats try to convince me why I should take them to the final round of interviews.

A few years later… my girlfriend, and now lovely wife Tricia, and I found ourselves in Boston, a city large enough to support an alumni chapter. We participated in local events and connected with some passionate Bobcats, whose names were synonymous with giving and service: Leona Hughes, a 1930 Bobcat, and Bob Axline, a 1957 Bobcat. Over two years, their actions showed me what good looks like and inspired me to become a better Bobcat.

Next, as newcomers to Austin, Texas, based on our experiences in New England, my wife and I worked to establish a new Ohio University alumni chapter in that small but growing city. We created and ran social events all around town, trying to connect with other Bobcats as we found our way in place far from the Appalachian foothills where we both grew up.

Then, somehow while working at Dell, I hit Frank Zammataro's radar screen. Frank was a 1963 Bobcat and is a long- standing member of the College of Business Executive Advisory Board. As his career was winding down, he served the College as an Executive-in-Residence where he helped organize and direct the Ohio University Business Fellows, a mentoring and leadership development program that has evolved into the Select Leadership Program. Frank called me directly and asked me to consider hosting a Business Fellows visit to Austin at Dell. That first presentation and plant tour in 2003 led to others, and it provided me with the conduit to begin identifying and recruiting College of Business students in to Dell's fledgling Finance Rotation Program. I personally opened the door for five Bobcat hires from the College of Business, and fast forward 10 years, the legacy continues: Dell has hired close to 20 summer interns and graduates.

A fun fact is that Austin Texas-based Dell has hired more Bobcats in to their accelerated rotation program than Texas A&M, which is only a 2-drive away from Austin, Texas.

Finally, after a long stint in Austin with Dell, I became restless and tried to build a broader professional network. I will never forget a Bobcat-enabled introductory meeting with Rick Hawkins, a 1974 Bobcat. We met for a drink one afternoon after work and after exchanging niceties and shaking hands, Rick said: "what can I do to help a Bobcat?" And while we talked about my career goals, I was blown away by this man's generosity and willingness to help a complete stranger. But we were not strangers – we were connected as Bobcats… a deep and somewhat familial bond.

I have at least a dozen more Bobcat stories… but I will stop on that high note.

My challenge to you, the high-achieving honorees of the College of Business, is what will your legacy of service be to your alma mater? I implore you to engage within the first 6 months of your departure from Athens:

  • donate $19 to the Foundation to honor your 2019 graduation year. Then, do that every year after.
  • Or, if you live in a location that supports an alumni chapter, make the time to attend one event per quarter… meet new Bobcats and find out how you can become an active part of the chapter.
  • Or, become an active member of the Ohio University College of Business Society of Alumni and Friends – the S.A.F.

There are so many easy ways to engage… to take your first step of what will become your legacy of service to old Ohio.

So, Bobcat: go make an impact!

Contribute to the welfare of the University … make time to touch the lives of others – they need you … and continue to feel the sense of accomplishment you will when you look back over your time here in Athens.

In closing, I want to thank Ohio University for giving me the start to my professional career, Dean Sherman for providing me with the opportunity to actively engage with and support the College of Business, and my wife Tricia for her love and support over the years.

Go Bobcats!!!