Huntsman Alumni Magazine Fall 2011

Fall 2011

The Leadership Challenge: Steven E. Snow

By Christine Arrington

The Jon M. Huntsman School trains leaders to be ethical, effective, and entrepreneurial. People in top leadership positions face many challenges, a number of which can be considered under the rubric of “balance.” How much to invest, for example, balanced against how much to harvest. Aggressively seeking short-term growth, balanced against the long-term needs of customers and employees. We spoke to six outstanding leaders, who all have degrees from Utah State—five in business and one in engineering—to find out how they have balanced their leadership challenges and pressures, while creating value.

Steven E. Snow

1974 Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from USU, law degree from BYU, practicing attorney until 2001, member of the
Presidency of the Seventy in the L.D.S. Church since 2001. Click here for an extended biography.

The Scope of His Position

Elder Steven E. Snow has a job where his bottom line is measured not in dollars but rather in spiritual leadership terms. A former attorney, Elder Snow is now a member of the Presidency of the Seventy in The L.D.S. Church, and his responsibilities include shepherding nearly two million members of his church in Utah. In this role, he recently led a successful, but logistically challenging, change in the way congregations of young single adults, ages 18 – 30, are organized.

Critical Strategic Decisions

Before he left his private practice as an attorney in 2001 to serve his church full time, the firm he founded along with David Nuffer included 25 attorneys located in St. George and Salt Lake City.

In the 1980s Salt Lake firms wanted to establish branch offices in St. George with and through his firm. Instead, he and his partners decided to tap their own entrepreneurial instincts and see how their business model would play in Salt Lake. By 2001, their Salt Lake office successfully employed 14 attorneys.

Ethical Issues and Strengths

Elder Snow said attorneys receive extensive training in ethics that make the ethical path forward clear when it comes to legal
matters. He said sometimes people don’t understand why attorneys defend people who are guilty.

“We know, from our training and from the Constitution, that everyone is entitled to representation, so I have no problem with a vigorous defense of criminal defendants,” he said. “That makes the system work. If you or I were ever caught up in that system, we would want it to work for our benefit as well.”

Leadership Learning

He has served as the chair of the Board of Regents in Utah, the chair of the Western States Commission of Higher Education, and the chair of the Grand Canyon Trust, an environmental organization--all positions that required him to build consensus and make strategic decisions about where to invest limited resources. He said that building consensus and developing a shared vision delivers the best long-term results.