Students in field

Building Effective Personal Relationships Key to Success in Business

October 7, 2019

Taste of Success Steve Szuber Alumni

Former NAFTA Regional Lead at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles speaks with Finlandia students


With a successful career at Fiat Chrysler now behind him, alumnus Stephen Szuber (’77) understands that much of his success depended on his ability to work with people and develop successful professional relationships. That was one of the topics he discussed when he recently spoke to students as part of the Taste of Success alumni lecture series hosted by University External Relations.

Szuber spent over six years as the NAFTA Regional Lead at Fiat Chrysler in downstate Auburn Hills, MI before retiring a few years ago. In that role, he was responsible for converging the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles IT Service Management processes across the globe to drive efficiencies to the business. His goal was to standardize IT processes while still keeping regional flexibility in consideration in order to better manage and enhance global performance of IT services.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was not only a merger or two companies, it was a merger of two companies with distinct national cultural differences. Therefore, Szuber stressed the importance of being able to overcome cross-cultural communication challenges as well as the other particulars of doing business globally such as differences in work cultures, legal issues and even time zone differences. Along with working with Italian colleagues, he also regularly interacted with Fiat Chrysler’s international divisions in Latin America and elsewhere.

“You need to be able to effectively work with others” Szuber said. “Managing these relationships will be key to your success.”

This is as true today as it was 20 years ago. However, the widespread dissemination of new communication technologies has made it quite likely that tomorrow’s managers will regularly have to manage such relationships across borders and even continents.

To prepare our future business professionals for this market reality, the International School of Business requires a course in leadership and team skills for all business students. A course in cross-cultural communication is also offered for students to better grasp an understanding of the challenges of working in a cross-cultural environment. Through these and other courses, students can learn to be better prepared for the myriad of relationships they will need to manage in their future careers. In addition, students will be able to apply these skills and gain valuable real-world experience through their business internship in their junior or senior year.

As a bit of final advice to the students, Szuber emphasized the importance of saving for retirement now.

“It’s never too early to begin saving for retirement,” said Szuber. “You should begin to do this immediately upon landing your first job after graduation.”

To learn more about Finlandia’s International School of Business, visit https://www.finlandia.edu/academics/business/.


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