Indiana State University Newsroom

Retired Wall Street executive, ISU alumnus shares tips for success

January 23, 2009

Steven Pruett returned to his alma mater Tuesday (Jan. 20) to share his professional expertise with students from the College of Business at Indiana State University.

Pruett earned an accounting degree from ISU in 1978 and went on to a career working with U.S. power markets. He retired in 2006 as managing director of Goldman Sachs, a global investment banking and securities firm.

During hs presentation, Pruett engaged students by encouraging them to ask questions and share their opinions. Topics discussed included ethics, commodities trading and the environment.

Pruett advised students to look at the market as a whole, which means understanding the financial climate not only of the United States but those in Europe, Asia and elsewhere around the globe.

"It's a global market," he said. "It's not U.S.-centered anymore." Ethical behavior is another key to success, according to Pruett. "Ethics is king," he said in response to a question on what role ethics plays in the business world. He added that employees should be willing to admit mistakes instead of trying to hide them.

Much of Pruett's career was spent working with power companies that supply the nation's energy. While new alternatives are being explored, Pruett said it will take time and careful research before any real change is made.

"I believe that technology has to change if you want to get away from fossil fuels," he said.

Pruett ended his presentation with tips for students as they work toward becoming professionals. He said it is critical to understand not just one area of a company's operations, but to know about market dynamics and the fundamentals of business. Key to that is gathering and then interpreting information.

"Information is not meant to be hoarded, it's meant to be shared among your compatriots," Pruett said, adding that sharing information can lead to a network of valuable relationships.

Ben Dye, a senior management and finance major from Paris, Ill., said Pruett's presentation gave him a lot of information to consider as he looks toward graduation.

"The information about Wall Street was enlightening," Dye said. "It's not every day you meet someone who has played such a big role in the business world."

Dye has been researching different companies and plans to use some of Pruett's advice in the coming months as he prepares to begin his career. "You just have to get a focus and work your way up," he said.

Pruett understands a thing or two about climbing the ladder of success. He was raised in rural Indiana where his father owned a service station. Though it was a long way from Wall Street, Pruett told the students he worked hard and wasn't afraid to take risks.

"I was fortunate to get the education and then take advantage of it," he said. "You've got to dream about your future. Then, when the opportunity presents itself, you have to decide if you're going to take it."


Writer: Emily Taylor, assistant director of media relations, Communications & Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or

Photo: Steven Pruett talks with a group of students at the ISU College of Business. (ISU/Justin Schwab)