What makes you passionate about entrepreneurship?
First, to define how I think of entrepreneurship is that it’s a mindset. Some people think it means starting the next Apple in their garage, and it can mean that, but it’s really more about the idea of ‘How do you recognize opportunities and act upon them?’ It’s exciting to me because entrepreneurship can be for everyone. The idea of entrepreneurial thinking can be applicable to anybody in many situations; it does not have to be a Silicon Valley startup. That is what makes it exciting for me and fun to be involved with.
Why is service learning and community engagement important?
I think in business courses it is important to bring in as much experiential learning as possible. In my mind, working with community organizations or nonprofits, which have a lot of the same issue as for-profits, is important. It’s valuable to use those skills you’re learning in the classroom to benefit these organizations. So if we can figure out ways to marry those two, it’s a great fit.
What project are you currently working on?
Global Entrepreneurship Week, started by the Kauffman Foundation, is made up of tens of thousands of events happening across 130 different countries at once the week of Nov. 18. People can form independent events and register them at KU. Our main event is Friday, Nov. 22nd at The Lied Center. Students compete to come up with a social innovation concept that could benefit eastern Kansas, which struggles with poverty and unemployment. Then a panel of social innovators and entrepreneurs will talk about how they’ve gotten their ideas, why they became entrepreneurs and why they became interested in social entrepreneurship. At the end, a free lunch will be open to anyone on campus.
What are your goals for the entrepreneurship program this academic year?
We are putting a focus on social entrepreneurship. I want to see more cross-campus involvement. I think we have a great presence and strength here in the business school. So, one of my goals with this is to bring in students to introduce them to entrepreneurship and how it can impact their goals across campus.
What courses in the entrepreneurship program do you most enjoy you teaching and why?
I teach three courses and I like them all!
-Corporate Entrepreneurship, it was just approved to be a permanent course. The idea behind it is how to apply entrepreneurship to a large established company.How did you get to where you are as associate director of entrepreneurship programs?
-Management of Small Businesses, it’s fun because we work as consultants with local small businesses. Students get to interact with business owners and help them tackle problems.
-Entrepreneurship in Practice, it’s exciting because it’s very untraditional. We work on a simulation throughout the course and on a major project. This year’s project is with Van Go, Inc., an art-based social service agency in east Lawrence.
My background is in industry. After getting my MBA in Chicago, I spent my time working for both small and large businesses in mainly strategy roles, as well as running my own marketing consulting firm. Then I learned about the entrepreneurship program here at KU. It just sounded like a terrific opportunity so I pursued it. Now it’s my third year here.
What are one or two of your proudest professional highlights during your time at KU?
I would say my Entrepreneurship in Practice class last spring. We did a big project with the Center for Civic and Social Responsibility. The project students worked on all semester was presented high-level KU administrators, including Sara Rosen, senior vice provost for academic affairs. I was really proud of the students and how hard they worked.
by Mackenzie Leander