Bartels Fellow, Shelley Stewart: “Things Aren’t Always Planned”

Liana Teixeira

Growing up, Shelley Stewart’s life didn’t exactly go according to plan.

Photo By Liana Teixeira
Photo By Liana Teixeira

Originally intending to major in journalism at Northeastern University, the Fall 2013 Bartels Fellow met the dean of the university’s criminal justice department and suddenly found himself with a new major and new path.

After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s in criminal justice, he prepared to go to law school. However, when he accepted a procurement job with an aerospace company, he discovered it was a good fit for his skill set. Soon, everything fell into place.

Stewart spent 20 years at United Technologies, and held executive-level positions at Raytheon and Invensys. He also served as chief procurement officer at Tyco. Today, he is vice president of sourcing and logistics and chief procurement officer of DuPont.

In 1990, Stewart went on to pursue his EMBA at UNH.

“I have two degrees in criminal justice, but I’m a business man…the route you take isn’t always straight. Where you end up isn’t always where you thought you would end up,” Stewart said.

No matter where the road may lead, Stewart said it is important to maintain, what he called, a “three-legged stool.” The legs represent career, community and family. Having a balance of all three is crucial to have a successful and happy life.

During his presentation, Stewart outlined his four Ps of success for students: prepare, perform, persevere and perspective.

Always be overprepared, Stewart said. “You need to want to be first.”

He also encouraged those performing a task or job to aim for the best they can be.

Stewart shared that during his time in the business world, the new generation, “millennials,” were commonly depicted as lazy and believed they should be rewarded for just showing up.

“Thats not what I see…,” Stewart said. “They are smart, ambitious, and they’re hard working. they defy the stereotypes and perform as the professionals that they are.” He urged individuals to find new ways for encouraging the new generation to contribute to the workplace.

The third P was persevere.Things may not always work out right the first time, but Stewart implored students to never give up, and learn how to do it right.

“Don’t be afraid to take risk,” he said.

Finally, Stewart asked students to gain perspective. Sometimes, he said, it is better to put the common interest over one’s self-interest.

Stewart ended his lecture by bringing back the three-legged stool and the idea of balance.

“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life,” Stewart said. “They’re totally different.”

While it is important to build a strong career, he said, it is equally imperative that one help within the community and foster a strong family connection.

“If you want a balanced life, in your career be prepared so you can be ready for good luck that comes your way, perform to the best of your ability by staying true to your moral compass. Persevere and trust your judgment in the face of obstacles because it won’t all be easy. And keep your perspective. Remember that you are part of a community…as you’re able to help others, it will become meaningful to you.”