Brad Stevens worked at Eli Lilly upon graduating from DePauw University in 1999. The article below gives a sense of how competitive (and ultimately dry and unrewarding, in my opinion) a career at Eli Lilly might be: analyzing sales numbers for a pharmaceutical giant, and giving presentations for employees in St. Petersburg, Florida. Brad Stevens was good in front of crowds, and equally adept at analyzing the numbers (a rare combination). He was unafraid to steamroll through a set of PowerPoint slides for the corporate masses. Instead, he took the plunge into coaching as an unpaid assistant at Butler, and now, thirteen years later, he’s leading the Celtics. People often say, “Follow your heart,” but they rarely do it themselves. Stevens did. Here’s the opening to Mark Viera’s New York Times piece from April 1, 2011.
Years before he stood on the sideline, Brad Stevens stood on a stage in St. Petersburg, Fla., speaking about employee compensation to a gathering of almost 400 of his co-workers from Eli Lilly. Not yet 25, he was an up-and-comer.“I just remember he had a lot of polish,” Philip Hutchison, a consultant in corporate finance at Eli Lilly, said in a telephone interview. “He was going through the slides, standing in front, without a lectern and without any notes.”
Stevens’s second career, as the basketball coach at Butler, has been chronicled in headlines and highlights. But he arrived in coaching after a little more than a year of conference calls, meetings and projects, a recent graduate starting in the corporate world.
Stevens was a promising marketing associate at Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company based in Indianapolis. Relied upon for his mathematical skills, he took on complex projects and did not need instructions twice, his former co-workers say.
Stevens wrestled with leaving his well-paying corporate job for an unpaid assistant coaching role at Butler in 2000, but his decision to leave was a transformational moment. In four seasons as Butler’s coach, Stevens, 34, has taken the Bulldogs to two Final Four appearances and into living rooms across America.
“I’ve looked back on it many times,” Stevens said. “There have been many a days in coaching where I’ve said, What was I thinking? Because it is not the easiest job in the world. But it is very fulfilling, not because of the results you achieve but because of the relationships you build.”