2018 Best EMBAs: Stephen L. Pedron, University of Chicago (Booth)

Stephen L. Pedron

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

I am a passionate learner with an unstoppable work ethic.”

Age: 60

Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona

Family Members: Wife – Nicole, 7 children; Britney – 29, Kayla – 28, Shawn – 27, Chase – 25, Colin – 23, Mario – 20, Jack – 11

Fun fact about yourself: I spent a year as a commercial tuna fisherman shortly after high school. We fished with poles. You can see video of this craft on YouTube. Prior to 2001, I was petrified of overseas travel. Now, a trip from Phoenix to London is a simple commute.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Arizona – Bachelor of Science, St. Louis University – Doctor of Medicine

Where are you currently working? Valley Perinatal Services – Maternal Fetal Medicine Physician

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Medical Missions – Haiti & China

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Initiation of a continuing learning forum, a journal club for our class, “The Spark Club.” The learning only starts in school. It is codified and becomes part of our circuitry after graduation. We have to continue to lay down myelin to reinforce the basics we’ve been taught.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Maintaining the primacy of sanctity and respect for all patients, and every human for that matter.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is a tough one. The man who brought it all together was my macro professor, John Huizinga. The man who was the toughest on me, thus driving me even harder, was my financial accounting professor, Haresh Sapra. But the one who really hung in there through it all, and taught me the most, by far, was Kathleen Fitzgerald. Kathleen taught me a lot about everything, basically refreshing me what 2+2 equals. She always responded directly and quickly.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Macro. It answered a lot of questions about how the many facets of our learning explain the way the world meshes.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? Simple answer – to learn how the world really works. The University of Chicago’s history speaks for itself. This happened really quickly. Nicole and I decided to make changes. I heard a Wharton podcast that piqued me. I was busy. I asked her to look into business schools. She asked which one. I said the University of Chicago. This was in April 2016. Within a month I was planning for school in London. I had many helping hands from Booth, and in the rest of my world.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Learning a new language, economics, and prying open a part of my brain never before explored.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? I am not the smartest person in the room, quite the opposite in fact. This humility reminded me, once again in my life, that we all stand in the same line together.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I don’t know, it’s all kind of a blur. Wake up Saturday morning a walk with Nicole, Jack, and our German Shepherd, Addaeus. Study some more. Pack for London. Attend Jack’s play at 17:00. Go straight from the play to the airport to catch my flight Saturday night. Nicole and I followed some basic rules. Try to have a date night every week, try to pull my weight around the house, divide responsibilities fairly and wisely. Try to show up for Jack’s activities when I am in town. Truth is though, Nicole and Jack bore the brunt of this program, and Nicole did the heavy lifting for us. We wouldn’t trade the experience though. It has been transformative.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Choose the very best program and launch yourself head-long into it. Do not settle.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I had retained more math and stats in high school, college, medical school, fellowship, etc. No regrets about business school. I wish I had been able to spend more time with my family though.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Man, another tough one. So many of them were so bright. I am frankly dumbfounded by all of them and learning more about them than ever now that we are wrapping up.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…Nicole and I pumped the brakes and came to a full stop professionally two years ago. I had threatened to go back to school for years. We wanted to open new doors and begin a new adventure. Now we’re in it!”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…complacent.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Make a difference, be passionate, have integrity.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Hmmm.  Measured, hard-working, pulled his own weight, had good perspective.

Favorite book: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. If this book doesn’t resonate with you, you might be missing the big picture.

Favorite movie or television show: If I don’t say the movie, The Right Stuff, my family will think I am the biggest hypocrite ever. Love Actually is a contender though. So is On Golden Pond. Really, anything that evokes the mystery of relationships.  And Blade Runner.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Easy, attending the Grand Prix, Monaco, and any offshore ocean power boat race. Now, put me in the seat of one of those power boats, and you might as well just put a fork in me, I’m done.

What made Stephen such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“Steve is one exemplary scholar, a testament to lifelong learning. At 60 years old and after nearly three decades of practicing fetal medicine, Steve embarked on his Booth Exec MBA journey to rekindle his passion for new knowledge, new skills, continuous self-improvement and re-invented himself. Now armed with Booth MBA, Steve aims to contribute his expertise for the betterment of the US healthcare public policy.

Despite the initial challenges of managing the academics of a business degree program (which is typical for someone from non-business background), Steve never gave up. He took the challenges in strides, marched on and successfully completed his program a few weeks ago.”

Intan Chen
Managing Director
Booth Europe

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBA GRADS OF 2018