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Washington University in St Louis Olin Business School

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Tod Stephens

There’s a time-honored maxim in the military – if you want to lead, you need to know how to follow.

Stephens lived by these words during his seven years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. “Even as a 21-year-old lieutenant, I knew that I had to do anything I asked my men and women to do.”

Stephens was deployed to Iraq three times, witnessing “firsthand the unquestionable courage and bravery of our soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors.”

Pursuing a dual-degree at Washington University

Graduate school was always part of his plan. He enrolled in Olin’s MBA program to learn “how to transition my military leadership skills into civilian ones.”

But it was the Business Law course, taught by attorney Donald Paule, that got Stephens thinking about a second degree.

“I was listening to his discussion on how Missouri business laws affect young managers, and I realized that lawyers bring a whole other world of skill sets, solutions, and creative approaches to the table.

“Combining the two disciplines has been extremely advantageous. I speak the language of modern business, understand the inner workings of a company and the mechanics of accounts receivable, and can read a balance sheet and profit and loss statement. Equally important, I know what to do with evidence when I see it.”

On the importance of critical thinking

“The critical-thinking components of Olin’s curriculum revolutionized the way I tackle problems. I approach each challenge with a blank slate, putting aside any preconceived assumptions. I consider my frames of reference. Then, I attack, test, and abandon solutions until I find the one that’s most effective. As a result, my decisions are shaped by actual facts on the ground.”

Tod Stephens, MBA/JD 2013

Career

Post-MBA: litigation attorney, Armstrong Teasdale, (previously St. Louis; attorney, Stinson Leonard Street LLP, Kansas City)

MBA Internship: Emerson, St. Louis

Pre-MBA: Infantry officer, U.S. Army

Background

Education: BA, German and Russian languages, United States Military Academy; West Point, NY

Hometown: Troy, IL