Recently, alumnus Todd Deibel, MBA ’97, took a few moments to catch up with Olin Alumni & Development. Check out Todd’s thoughts on how his Olin education helped prepare him for his career:
What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?
I recently acquired and manage a company called Second Sight Systems, and I can honestly say I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had in my career. This can largely be attributed to the high-tech industries we serve (utilities and communications) and the incredibly talented people I get to work with every day.
Our company focuses on three areas: utility engineering services, industrial wireless systems, and communications tower services. We have positioned Second Sight Systems to be at the forefront of supporting customers who are investing in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) through our partnership with General Electric. We are also a tier-one supplier to Ameren for their Smart Grid modernization program. If you’re a technology nerd like me, there is absolutely no better place to be!
Olin certainly shaped me in a way I didn’t see coming. Through the Weston Career Center, I landed an internship at Texas Instruments and found my calling in the technology space. Upon graduation, I took a position at Intel Corporation and had the fortunate experience of living and working in Silicon Valley, Germany, and the UK. I can guarantee you none of this would have happened had I not attended a nation-wide leading MBA program like Olin’s.
What Olin course influenced your life most, and why?
Operations with Dean Kropp is where I really felt like I hit my stride at Olin. Relative to my impressive classmates (kudos to the full-time MBA’ers of 1997!), I honestly felt over matched in just about every other class I attended. However, Dean Kropp had a presentation style and message that resonated with me, and it just clicked. To this day I think he’s one of the most brilliant, charismatic instructors I’ve ever come across, and his operational philosophy stuck with me as I managed multiple companies over the years.
(Quick side story: As I was getting to know him during my first year at Olin, I constantly addressed him as “Dean Kropp” (by his full name) and eventually I realized he was in fact not the “Dean” of the school but rather, “Professor” Kropp! He never let me live that one down…God rest his soul!)
How do you stay engaged with Olin?
I have remained involved with Olin in several ways, but the two areas I focus on are mentoring students and providing scholarship funds. Mentoring both undergrads and graduate students of Olin is a humbling experience.
The talent level in these students is truly impressive and at times while I’m meeting with students I’m not exactly sure who is mentoring who!
I can guarantee you I get just as much out of our discussions as they do. It’s a great experience to get back on campus and to hear the stories of these students, and to act as a sounding board for career opportunities. In addition to this, my wife Jeni and I established a scholarship fund, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to get to personally know the students who are impacted by these funds.
Why is an MBA education important?
An MBA will force you to confront your weaknesses and help round out your managerial skillset. There is nowhere to hide in an MBA program. For example, no matter how long you put it off, you will eventually have to sit through a Statistics class! (Believe me, I tried my best to dodge that one.) But once you get after it, you begin to realize how quantitative theories are applied in just about everything we do in running a business. An MBA has a way of not only rounding you out, but also opening your eyes to a bigger world with bigger opportunities, especially coming from an internationally diverse program like Olin.