Alumni Service Award: William C. Steinmetz (KSM74)
Many speak in generalities when they call their college experience “life changing.” Bill Steinmetz can get specific. Hand him a map of Northwestern’s campus, and he can pinpoint two locations where his life took momentous turns.
The first took place at Scott Hall in 1968, when Steinmetz was an undergraduate student. He went there to meet his brother Frank (McC69, KSM77) and Frank’s fiancée for lunch when he made an unexpected acquaintance.
“I remember walking in and seeing them both in a booth with an attractive young coed in a Scottish kilt skirt and knit top,” he recalls.
That co ed was Gail Ayres (SESP 70), who now goes by Gail Steinmetz. After she graduated, Bill followed her to California where they married and he finished up his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Irvine. He returned to Northwestern, however, to attend the Kellogg School of Management.
That move set the stage for his next chance encounter, this time at Leverone Hall (now part of the Donald P. Jacobs Center). It was Steinmetz’s second year at Kellogg, and he was unsure if he should pursue a second degree in law or look for a job. As he walked down a corridor, he was stopped by Associate Dean of Administration Pete Henderson.
“He knew a few investment banks had asked me to interview, so he suggested I talk with a Wall Street firm that had asked the school to send them a few people to interview,” Steinmetz says. “That turned out to be the first 15 years of my career.”
Steinmetz parlayed that nudge from Henderson into an impressive three-decade career in investment banking and private equity investment.
Equally impressive has been Steinmetz’s unyielding service to Northwestern. His numerous volunteer activities include membership on the board of the John Evans Club (he also served as chair), the Northwestern Alumni Association board, the Music Advisory Board, and the Kellogg School of Management Alumni Council.
In 1994, Steinmetz was honored with Kellogg’s Schaffner Award, which recognizes alumni who are preeminent in their fields and who have provided outstanding service to the school. He was also named to the Pete Henderson Society, which honors those who have helped make Kellogg a leader in management education.
Bill and Gail are also active supporters of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other Chicago area philanthropic organizations.