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News and Events

Warren Stippich: A proud and involved alumnus

Oct 19, 2016, 04:15 by Gies College of Business
On a busy afternoon in the Business Instructional Facility, Warren Stippich ’90 ACCY looked around at the students who filled the tables in the BIF Commons to talk with friends and classmates, enjoy a quick afternoon beverage or snack, or meet with the corporate representatives who had set up an information table. Seeing the bustle surrounding him and the engagement of the students and staff in the Commons, Stippich asked, “How could you not be proud?” warren-stippich_2 Pride in his College of Business degree and his undergraduate experience is something Stippich has felt since the time of his graduation. It has kept him coming back again and again to interact with the College and with its students. Stippich’s career has been exemplary. He is currently the Global Co-Leader for Business Risk Services for Grant Thornton International, Ltd. and the National Managing Partner for Quality and Risk for Advisory Services at Grant Thornton LLP, a world leader in audit, tax, and advisory services. Before joining Grant Thornton, he had worked for such leading companies as Arthur Andersen, DEKALB Genetics Corporation, and American Express. Throughout his career he has focused on the areas of accounting; internal controls; governance, risk, and compliance; and internal audits. He is a recognized expert in the field. Yet, when asked about the achievements that give him the greatest pride, one of the first things he turns to is the interactions he has with the College of Business. Since joining Grant Thornton, Stippich has served as the lead relationship partner with the University of Illinois. He has striven to improve the brand perception of the firm among students. “Grant Thornton has been recruiting here for maybe forty or fifty years, maybe even longer, but our brand recognition here when I took over in 2003 was not as well-known as it needed to be,” he said. “So I have worked hard over the last thirteen years with the Grant Thornton team to close that gap and to really brand us on campus as a unique place to have a career.” Stippich grew up in Ingleside, Illinois, in northwest suburban Chicagoland, in a blue collar family where his mother was a homemaker and his father, a mechanic. Stippich knew his educational opportunities were somewhat limited, even though he had been valedictorian at his high school. “Going to an out of state, high-tuition school wasn’t really in the equation,” he said. The University of Illinois, with its highly regarded programs, was a great solution. Many family and friends encouraged Stippich to attend Illinois. It seemed a good opportunity to get a great education for a reasonable cost. In the end, said Stippich, “I think I only applied to Illinois.” With a strong interest in business, Stippich enrolled in what was then named the College of Commerce and Business Administration. It was a decision he does not regret. The College gave him the skills—both academic and social—that he needed for success in his career. “ taught me to take risks and step out of my comfort zone, first and foremost,” he said. As the first in his family to attend college, “I really had no role models of what it meant to be a college-educated professional, and what a college degree meant. I had to come from that point of view and really grow.” This willingness to step out of his comfort zone served Stippich well in his career, which has taken him throughout Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and Canada. This willingness to take risks extends to his personal life as well. He and his wife, Dawn (’90 Journalism), and children Warren III and Samantha enjoy whitewater rafting and international travel for family vacations. The College of Business also gave Stippich the opportunity to hone his leadership skills. “I became president of the Accounting Club. That was a watershed moment of my time at the University of Illinois. It allowed me to build relationships. It taught me the importance of relationships not only with students and the University but also with firms,” he said. A regular visitor to the College, Stippich has embraced many opportunities to talk to students and share his insights. Stippich remains grateful for the openness faculty and students have shown for him to give presentations and talks in the College. Over the years he has given guest lectures in courses, talked to student groups, and presented Lyceum lectures, as well as visiting to recruit graduates. When talking to students, Stippich tries to provide information that complements the training received in the courses. He leaves the content to the instructors, and focuses other aspects of the post-university professional life. “I’ve talked about the importance of attire and the culture,” he said. “I tend to lecture on what it means to be a business professional. How do you become a highly motivated and highly engaged business professional? It’s very rewarding to share my story or topic back with the students. That is a big piece with keeping me engaged.” “I’m very proud to be an alumnus,” said Stippich. “I’m very proud to be a graduate. I’m very proud of the programs that the College and the university have grown.” And with his son a freshman this year in the College of Business, he has yet one more reason for this pride. Stippich is on the board of trustees for the Institute of Internal Auditors’ Internal Audit Foundation and is a recently retired board member, treasurer, and chair of the Audit Committee for Gateway Foundation, Inc. in Chicago. An enthusiastic supporter of the College of Business, he is a board member of the College of Business Alumni Association and an advisory board member for the Department of Accountancy. He is also a member of the Dean’s Business Council, whose members provide advice to the College dean and serve as ambassadors of the College to outside stakeholders.
Warren along with several other College of Business were featured in our #IAmIllinoisBusiness video.