Steve Boland, One of 75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America

Steve Boland, a 1990 graduate in organizational studies, rose quickly in the banking industry to become president of LandSafe Inc. PHOTO BY JOHN DLUGOLECKI
When D. Steve Boland (BS90) talks about what made him the successful businessman he is today, in addition to God he credits his family, his mother and his college education.

His family, he says, motivates him. "They are everything to me," notes Boland, who has been married to his wife for almost 11 years. They have three children.

His mother, he says, helped him to believe in himself. "She just thought there was nothing I couldn't achieve," Boland remembers.

And his four years at Northwestern gave him the knowledge and the skills he needed to successfully run a company. Boland is president and managing director of LandSafe Inc. "I use what I learned every single day," he says. Recognizing his success and influence, Black Enterprise magazine recently named Boland one of the 75 most powerful African Americans in corporate America. "It was an unbelievable feeling," he says about seeing his name on the list.

Boland came to Northwestern University after spending his childhood in Florida and Jamaica. After looking at the different schools at Northwestern, he decided on the School of Education and Social Policy because it offered a broad and flexible curriculum. "SESP has a great program because it gives you what you need to be successful in a variety of fields," he says.

Boland also chose SESP because he wanted to participate in the School's practicum, a quarter-long chance to work in the real world. The combination of real-life experiences and a liberal arts education is what enabled him to be so effective so quickly, Boland says.

"One of the biggest challenges young people face when coming out of school is adjusting to the realities and demands of corporate life," he explains. "I walked away from Northwestern with an understanding of how the real world works."

After graduating with a degree in organizational studies in 1990, Boland spent two years in Florida working at a small regional bank. It was there that he learned that lending was what he loved doing.

"There is nothing better than the reaction you get when you tell people they are able to own their own home or get the car they wanted or get the line of financing they need because their kid is getting ready to go to college," he recalls.

At age 36, Boland has risen rapidly in banking. First Nationwide Bank of Chicago recruited him in 1992 and quickly promoted him to a national job focusing on affordable lending. Shortly after that, he became the national affordable lending manager with Fleet Financial Group, and in 1997 he joined Countrywide Home Loans as first vice president and director of affordable lending. Two years later, he was promoted to regional vice president in its consumer markets division, and then within three years he was named president and chief operating officer of its LandSafe Credit company.

Boland says he had "dreamed of the day he would run a company," and he took advantage of his opportunity. In just three years, he reached his current job as managing director and president of parent company LandSafe Inc., where he oversees four business units with earnings of $85 million.

Although Boland would ultimately "love to run a publicly traded company," he says he is most successful when he focuses on what is currently in front of him.

By Katharine Duke
By Katharine Duke