Darlene Steffen ’76 Stresses Resiliency, Relationships in Virtual Ceremony

A screenshot of the Zoom screen from the induction ceremony
The Manning School of Business inducted 40 undergraduate and graduate students into Beta Gamma Sigma during a recent virtual ceremony.

By Ed Brennen

“Resiliency” was the first key to leadership that Manning School of Business alum Darlene Steffen ’76 highlighted in her recent remarks to the college’s 40 new inductees into the Beta Gamma Sigma international business honor society.

Which was only fitting since Steffen was addressing the students virtually on Zoom this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic — a global health crisis that has tested the resiliency of many this year.

“As we all know, we’ve had a very unique year,” said Manning School Dean Sandra Richtermeyer, who thanked the chapter’s faculty co-advisors — Assoc. Teaching Profs. Cassandra Rohland and Michael Beers — for keeping the “Beta Gamma Sigma spirit alive and well” during the pandemic.

Beta Gamma Sigma student officers Taylor Kelley, Kaitlyn Riley, Thomas Stranberg and David Dugan — all senior business majors — presided over the ceremony, which is normally held in the spring at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center but was postponed because of the pandemic.
“This education you are getting at UMass Lowell is going to well-equip you to propel yourself, whether you’re launching a career or further developing your current career.” -Business alum Darlene Steffen ’76

Students logged on from as far away as Japan, where the Manning School partners with Abitus, a Tokyo-based executive education firm, for students pursuing their master’s of business administration degrees online. 

This year’s inductees were: Daniel Callahan, Magnus Campbell, Prudhvi Chandu, Tary Chateauneuf, Christine Daneau, Lucinda Hamilton, Norihito Honda, Satoru Igarashi, Toru Kofune, Sunhee Lee, Sidney Lewis, Meymey Lov, Frank Maher, Benjamin McEvoy, Danitza Montilla Tejada, Makiko Nagase, Kenichi Nakahara, Tsutomu Nakai, Andrew Narouz, Alexander Nelson, Martin Ngure, Yusuke Ohta, Taiji Ono, Danielle Oser, Rudra Pandya, Andrea Patino Galindo, Sami Reed, Timothy Riley, Katie Sanchez, Masaru Sasaki, Evan Schlosser, April Scott, Melanie Sunnerberg, Sayaka Tsuru, Ishimwe Nadine Uwase, Walter Valin Vazquez, Jose Vera, Teppei Watanabe, Zozo Yasuda and Taiji Yoshizaki.

Steffen, who earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting at UML and is a member of the Manning School’s Advisory Board, was inducted as an honorary Beta Gamma Sigma member.
Dean Sandra Richtermeyer speaks on Zoom during the ceremony
Manning School of Business Dean Sandra Richtermeyer welcomes attendees to the virtual Beta Gamma Sigma induction ceremony.

“This education you are getting at UMass Lowell is going to well-equip you to propel yourself, whether you’re launching a career or further developing your current career,” said Steffen, who worked at Deere & Company for 32 years before starting her own financial consulting practice, Life Planning Solutions, in 2008.

In addition to resiliency and risk-taking, Steffen told students that mentoring and networking have proven instrumental in her career.

“Relationships are key to developing yourself as a leader,” said Steffen, who encouraged students to find mentors both inside and outside of their organizations, while also building a network of people in their personal lives who can be sounding boards during challenging times.

“At some point, when you’re in an environment that just doesn’t gel with you and you’re not sure how to handle it, having these contacts at your fingertips, or at your Zoom screen, can really help,” Steffen said.

“We’re all human; we can’t do this by ourselves,” she added. “I realized that this is the area that I tried to do too much by myself, and it didn’t have to be that way. It didn’t have to be that hard. So I’m passing this on to you as probably the most important thing to help propel your career.”