Directing the BYOBiz Program at Champlain is arguably my third career. Upon graduating from Cornell University with a liberal arts degree, I tried to start a magazine business targeting college students. Although the venture failed, I was hooked on a business career. The experience helped me to "know what I didn't know", and I concluded that I needed to fill in a few blank spaces in my business education.
I earned my MBA from Harvard Business School and embarked on a career in the corporate world focusing on marketing. My first job was assistant product manager for the Kool-Aid business at General Foods Corporation, now part of Kraft, Inc. My career seemed to take off when the division president walked by my cube at about 7:30 one evening and noticed that the calculator on which I was pounding away was smoking. "That guy has potential", I heard him mutter as he walked by. That career culminated with a five year stint as the senior marketing and sales executive for Marriott's worldwide hotel business, and being named one of the "Twenty-Five Most Influential People in the Travel Industry" by Business Travel News.
I never lost the entrepreneurial bug during those years in the corporate world. In fact, many of my corporate assignments had a strong entrepreneurial flavor - new products, developing new hotel brands, repositioning existing brands, new technologies (in the early 90's, I secured the URL "Marriott.com" before any of us knew what to do with it).
From Marriott, I embarked on my entrepreneurial career in earnest, co-founding a highly successful satellite services company and several others that were not as successful. Along the way I also made a number of "angel investments" in young companies and served on their boards of directors.
One thing I learned about myself throughout my career was that I consistently derived a great deal of satisfaction from developing and mentoring younger managers, many of whom I still count as friends. That insight made the decision to join Champlain College as the first full time director of its innovative BYOBiz program an easy one.
In BYOBiz, we put the focus on helping student CEOs create and build their businesses while helping them gain confidence making decisions, taking action and leading their companies. We augment and complement classroom learning and help young entrepreneurs apply that learning to their businesses.
BYOBiz students become more adept at assessing and accepting risk, and learning how to "fail quickly and cheaply", a key foundation for entrepreneurial success.
More than anything, we help students develop and nurture their entrepreneurial mindset.
When I am not working with student entrepreneurs, I enjoy spending time with my wife Nancy and my three grown children doing outdoor activities like skiing, hiking and gardening, working on land conservation issues as a board member of my community's land trust, angel investing and working to promote entrepreneurship in Vermont. But most of all I enjoy riding my motorcycles.