Graziadio Business School | MBA 2001, PKE 106
Chief Executive Officer, Smile Brands, Inc.
Steve Bilt is the cofounder and chief executive officer of Smile Brands, which supports approximately 500 dental offices throughout the United States with over 5,500 providers and employees. The company has been recognized as the top multisite healthcare employer in the US for the last three years by Glassdoor and as a Top 10 Large US Employer for Diversity by Comparably in the last two years. Additionally, Steve is founder and chair of the Smiles for Everyone Foundation, which has established international outposts serving six countries in South America, Asia, and Africa and conducts ongoing events throughout the United States.
What does being an honoree of the Outstanding Alumni in Healthcare campaign mean to you?
This is a very special honor for me. Being recognized by Pepperdine, given its incredible history of purpose and care, is truly touching. The most important part of my role to me is creating an environment where people who otherwise may not or could not access care are able to do so. I very much appreciate Pepperdine for taking note of our progress in that regard.
Describe your road to success.
I began on the financial side but was always interested in the healthcare arena. I had a chance to take over operating a small dental turnaround coming from the CFO position. I simultaneously was beginning the Presidents and Key Executives (PKE) program. The timing was auspicious as the program gave me the opportunity and guidance to dig into every aspect of the business and effect a change in its trajectory.
Who has helped you achieve success in your career?
Dr. Wayne Strom was a big influence on me. Dr. James Wilburn was also very impactful.
Describe a lesson you've learned from a challenging time in your career or life.
Our current COVID-19 crisis and social unrest have provided unlimited lessons. Chief among them are to always bring people along the journey and to always continue moving forward no matter how difficult and halting the steps may become.
How do you prepare for a busy day?
A morning workout (and coffee!).
"The most important part of my role to me is creating an environment where people who otherwise may not or could not access care are able to do so."
Steve Bilt (MBA '01, PKE 106)
What's next for you?
I hope to continue pounding my little dent in the healthcare universe.
What is your mantra or favorite quote?
"We will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends." - Martin Luther King Jr.