Michael Costello: Local International Attorney Now Teaches Business at UMSL

Olivette resident fluent in various languages and puts that skill to good use. Part 1.

This is part 1 of a two-part interview with Michael Costello, University City resident who moved recently to Olivette. Costello talks about his teaching duties in the business school at UMSL.

Michael J. Costello is a life-long St. Louisan who has made his mark in international business. A graduate of St. Louis U. High, he holds a Juris Doctorate (law degree) from Saint Louis University, and has served s general counsel for Agribrands business and was international counsel for Monsanto Co and Ralston Purina.

Costello, age 60 moved with his family from Ames Place in University City to Covington Lane in Olivette three years ago. In semi-retirement, he is an assistant teaching professor at UMSL in the College of Business Administration, and is a soccer official in St. Louis with his limited spare time.

Patch caught up with Costello for an extended interview recently.

Patch.com. What was the primary focus of your professional business career.

Michael Costello: I earned my bread and butter by doing international commercial work for companies like Ralston Purina and Monsanto. Basically, I’ve worked in just about every part of the world. I’ve done work as mundane as organizing a new company to as serious as dealing with a terrorist event. We had operations in 16 countries on 4 continents and we had a number of serious events. It was always something different every day.

I’ve taught now in Kuwait and in the Middle East and I just came back from Beijing and Southern China. Many of our students at UMSL are from the immediate area and have not had the opportunity to travel very far. One of the strengths of our business department is having the students to have more of a global vision and be prepared for engaging with the world.

Patch: Are business trips over seas sight seeing trips too.

Costello: When you travel to foreign countries for work for big companies. I describe it this way: I’ve been almost everywhere int he world. You fly into an airport, you are picked up by a car. You are taken to a hotel. You eat dinner in the hotel restaurant with the managers. You spend a day in the office with them. You go out into the field and see a plant. You may see the distribution sites and a couple of customer sites, you get back on the plane and head to the next country or home. That’s it.

I used to leave home with my wife (Lindl,  a technician at the Olivette Vetnary Clinic) taking care of young children. There is no time for sight seeing.

Patch: What inspired you to retire and go into the academic world.

Costello: We sold a couple of companies and I was fortunate enough to be a corporate officer and get a couple of packages. My children were in high school at the time and there were no 100 percent international jobs in St. Louis so it was time to do something else.

One of the benefits of being a professor--you get 50 percent discounts if your children go to one of the Missouri state schools and my daughter (Christina, 23) happened to be a Division I athlete (equestrian) earned a partial scholarship to go to Kansas State and my son, Andrew, 22 had a scholarship to go to Mizzou so it worked out pretty well.

Patch: Do you enjoy the UMSL side of your life.

Costello: I do. For one, its my opportunity to share my passion for international business  and love to play with my languages with the foreign students we have and get the American students into using languages and fun to stay with young people.

Costello is fluent in Chinese and has some awareness of Dutch, a modest conversant in French and is presently studying Arabic.

I do head up the campus Old News Boys effort each year. I have three goals at the university: Encourage the students to be the following:

  • more globally aware
  • Be leaders
  • Be ethically minded

Old Newsboys encourages students to step out, and do something for someone else. Students may think they are poor at UMSL, but compared to the rest of the world, they are wealthy.

Tomorrow, Costello discusses his connection to the world of soccer.


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