March 16, 2022
Want to become a leader? Find opportunities to lead – they are out there, Steve Pelch, BS ME ’87, told students in an engineering leadership course earlier this week.
“Don’t be afraid to lead,” he said. “You won’t get it perfect or right the first time. Recognize that you’ll have successes and failures along the way. You’ll learn from both of them and become a more impactful leader because of the experience.”
Pelch is Senior Advisor of Radial Equity Partners and former global corporate executive who was a recipient of Mizzou Engineering’s 2020 Missouri Honor Award. This week, he is sharing his expertise with students, including those taking ENGINR 2001 Engineering Leadership and Strategic Communications. The course was created this semester and connects students with some of the College’s most prestigious alumni.
While Pelch thinks the class is helpful to juniors and seniors preparing to enter the workforce, he also hopes it inspires younger students to look for opportunities to practice leadership, such as joining student organizations.
“The best way to learn about leadership, doesn’t come from reading books, it comes by actually leading. he said. “Put yourself in leadership positions. It requires work and effort but comes with a lot of satisfaction.”
Over his 34-year career at Emerson, Pelch served in a number of leadership roles, including Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Mizzou helped lay a foundation for his success. While Mizzou Engineering taught critical thinking and decision-making skills, similarly, the campus offered a plethora of student-led organizations. Pelch went on to say that he benefited from being around students in other top-notch disciplines such as business and journalism. “Interdisciplinary collaboration is critical to making wholistic strategic decisions in today’s world,” he said.
“That’s really what Mizzou has to offer,” he said. “There are numerous great pockets of excellence that are most impactful when they meld together. It takes the arts and science working together to solve problems. If we can get students thinking in those terms, we’ll produce more effective leaders no matter what path they choose. They’ll be better for it, and we’ll be better for it.”
Outside of work, Pelch is active in the St. Louis community where he is a member of the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement and the Board of Trustees for Eisenhower Fellowships. He was past Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Ronald McDonald House Charities and is currently co-chairing their capital campaign.
He says it’s also important for him to invest time at Mizzou Engineering.
“I want to give back to the school,” he said, “that helped put me on a trajectory I didn’t think possible.”
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