Q&A with New Faculty: Steve Strombeck 

A version of this article originally appeared in the spring 2024 issue of STILLPOINT magazine.

Steve Strombeck joins the Gordon faculty as a professor of business and marketing and has research interests in services marketing, branding and Asian business practices. He brings with him extensive industry experience in commercial real estate and consulting, where his past clients included United Airlines, American Airlines and Starbucks. Steve spent a number of years living and teaching abroad in Taiwan and South Korea. 

STILLPOINT: What sparked your interest in studying Asian business practices? 

Steve Strombeck: It’s a long story that goes back to when I was working in commercial real estate. I made friends who were Asian, and I started sharing my faith more and leading some folks to the Lord. Along the way I felt called to missions. So I left commercial real estate, and I got a doctorate degree so I could work in China long-term. I lived in Korea for three and half years and four years in Taiwan. I worked for a couple companies, and I grew to love the people, and eventually I started learning more about how people in Asia do business. It’s been a great, great journey. 

SP: Tell me more about the study abroad experiences you’ve led. What do you hope students who participate will learn? 

SS: This is probably the most exciting thing I do as an educator. I have a philosophy that good marines are not made in calm seas, so the trips are an attempt on my part to try to get my students out of their comfort zone. The goal is to help them prepare for a life where they may get sent to an overseas assignment by their company. How do you adjust yourself professionally? How do you adjust yourself as a Christian? There’s adjustments to the food, there’s adjustments to the climate. So the trips are to talk through those things. There’s also curriculum built into the trips that coincides with the companies we visit. So if we’re in Asia, let’s say we’re in Hong Kong, companies that we typically visit would be Federal Express, HSBC Bank and Monex. So the students will go through curricula related to each company and the history of the company. Then we update that with more recent news. And then once we land, we visit the companies for a couple of hours, talking with company vice presidents and presidents about what the companies are doing with products, what they’re doing to take advantage of emerging market segments. And I blend in cultural excursions and some sightseeing. But the guts of the trip is to try to get students ready for a career living and working overseas for a multinational corporation. 

SP: Corporate America doesn’t always seem like the most friendly place for Christians. What is your pitch, if you will, to Christian young people who are interested in a career in business? 

SS: Joshua 1:8 says (paraphrasing) this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that’s written in it, for then you’ll have success and then you’ll have prosperity. So the Lord is telling Joshua, don’t fear. The main thing I think for this generation is: Don’t be afraid. Don’t fear. Live your faith. Live it vibrantly, wherever God puts you. I think the Christian faith is in retreat in corporate America. I think everyone’s afraid to open their mouth or to say the name of Jesus in a meeting. I think the climate, especially in big cities, is show up and shut up. We don’t want your religion. We definitely don’t want Jesus in this company. I tell students to stand on your faith. Not every word out of your mouth has to be “Jesus,” but be courageous. Do your work unto the Lord, give God all the glory and don’t worry. I think that’s the critical thing for this next generation. I feel like part of my role here is to coach students, to get them ready. And part of the coaching is telling them, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry about your career. God will carry you through it.”