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Dean Sreenivasan Kicks Off a Series of Roundtable Discussions Featuring Notable Alumni

Retired CEO of Lockheed Martin shares advice with students

Robert J. Stevens, Dean Sreenivasan and Students

Introducing Robert J. Stevens at the year’s first Dean’s Roundtable event, Dean Katepalli Sreenivasan described him as exemplifying “the best that our school has produced.” Stevens, the retired CEO of the Lockheed Martin Corporation, earned a master’s degree in engineering and management in 1985 from what was then known as the Polytechnic University of New York. He came to talk to a select group of students about his time at the school, his storied career, and anything else they cared to ask.

The students — who earned invitations to attend the luncheon based on their academic performance, service to the school, and recommendation of their professors — listened raptly as Stevens, a natural raconteur, told of working full-time while attending night school. “I was always focused on the next shift and the next assignment due, so I never had time to see the bigger picture,” he recalled. “But now, looking back, I can really appreciate how valuable those experiences were and how important everything I learned was.”

He does not like when people refer to him as a self-made man, he explained. “I had a lot of help,” he asserted. “I had great parents; my time in the military, which taught me the importance of service to others; and a wonderful education, like you’re getting right now.”

Asked for the most valuable advice he could give, Stevens had a list at the ready, including:

  • Acknowledge that you may not be as good as you think you are and commit to improving.
  • Try a little time travel: look to the future, discern what might be important then, and test all of your hypotheses.
  • Be an evangelist for needed change.

Above all, Stevens exhorted the students, be good at what you do because the world is going to need you. “The future is right here in this room,” he said, gesturing to the table, “and you’ll all need to be at the top of your game.”

It was weighty advice to take in over lunch, but the students seemed invigorated and expressed hope that they’d be invited back for another roundtable in the future.

Upcoming Roundtables:

Monday, October 31
Cliff Friedman (Class of '81, '83)
Managing Director, Raptor Group Holdings

Friday, November 18
Nairobi Kim (Class of '03)
Founder and CEO of Blossom Beyond

Thursday, December 1
Joan Tully (Class of '74)
ExxonMobil