2017 Best & Brightest: Benjamin Fouch, Notre Dame (Mendoza)

Benjamin Fouch

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

“A Hoosier from the Heartland who caught the business and startup bug.”

Fun fact about yourself: I am related to an original pilgrim from the Mayflower named John Smith!

Hometown: Brownsburg, Indiana

High School: Brownsburg High School

Major: Finance, Political Science

Favorite Business Courses:

  • Global Portfolio Management
  • Applied Investment Management
  • Corporate Financial Management

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Awards:

  • Fulbright Summer Institute Graduate
  • Hesburgh-Yusko Scholar
  • Kellogg International Scholar
  • Lilly Scholar
  • National History Club National Newsletter Contributor
  • Notre Dame PwC Case Competition Champion
  • Notre Dame Deloitte Case Competition Champion
  • Beta Gamma Sigma
  • Pi Sigma Alpha
  • Business Today International Case Competition Runner-Up
  • National Outdoor Leadership School Graduate
  • Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Language Award of Excellence

Extracurricular Activities:

  • Dark Horse Sports Recruiting / Founder

Note: This is a company I began here at Notre Dame. We help high school student athletes get recruited for college while also receiving academic consultations. We now have three employees and a partnership with one of the largest football programs in the country (National Underclassmen Combine)

  • Notre Dame Finance Department / Teaching Assistant (6 Classes)
  • Clay High School / Entrepreneurship Instructor
  • University of Notre Dame Admissions Department / Chairman and Founder of the Student Advisory Board for Undergraduate Enrollment

Note: This group consults the admissions department and helps them alter their admissions procedure to attract more high-talent and high-character individuals

  • Kellogg Institute for International Studies / Research Assistant
  • Mendoza Student Leadership Association / Chief Financial Officer
  • Knights of Columbus / Treasurer, Renovation Director

Community Work:

  • Robinson Community Learning Center / AmeriCorps Volunteer (3 Years)
  • Robinson Community Learning Center / Entrepreneurship and Advanced Skills Co-coordinator
  • Robinson Community Learning Center / Board of Trustees (3 Years)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) / Chicago / Management Consulting Intern
  • Nanovic Institute / Europe / Independent Researcher (Bitcoin)
  • Catholic Charities USA / Washington D.C. / Immigration Research Analyst
  • Offices of Congressman Todd Rokita / Indiana / Congressional Intern

Describe your dream job: My dream is to be a part of a startup company helping to run the organizational and strategic portions of the business. I would help the different parts of the organization cooperate, communicate, and adapt to maximize their performance and the chance that they ultimately succeed.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? Studying business in college (in my case finance) was liberating. Business gives you the tools you need to be successful. They give you the means, and it then is up to each student to discern what their own professional ends are. Studying business has helped me become literate and informed on topics that are essential to understanding how to build, sustain, and grow an organization. I leave college equipped with the quantitative and soft skills to be effective in whatever I aspire to do, and I didn’t feel like I had a set “path” I had to follow.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? I expected to leave college with a firm understanding of how businesses worked, and that was my main goal in studying business. What I have learned is far more important and valuable as a takeaway from my studies has been how managing and growing your relationships both professionally and personally can be the most critical skill for anyone looking to do something impactful. As humans we are naturally limited in our abilities, but when we learn to work and rely on others around us we can overcome these limitations.

Where would you like to work after graduation? 

  • Booz Allen Hamilton – Business Development and Corporate Strategy
  • Dark Horse Sports Recruiting – Cofounder, Director of Academic Services
    • I am working full-time while also working on my startup, Dark Horse Sports Recruiting, I am very passionate about.

What are your long-term professional goals? I would like to continue my work as an entrepreneur within the education space with the intent of eventually making it my full-time profession. I am extremely passionate about the development of young people, and nothing would be more fulfilling than being able to create an organization that helps young people meet their developmental potential and find what truly makes them happy.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…I saw the impact the financial sector had on my small Indiana hometown during the 2008 financial crisis.”

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…off in Finland, doing research for my history senior thesis on the effects of Russian intervention on Finland’s political development. I am a huge history buff, and have always found Scandinavian history to be particularly interesting.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…you can start as an entrepreneur at any time. College is an excellent opportunity to try radical business ideas because you have almost no other expenses or responsibilities. There’s no leaner startup than one that is started out of a dorm-room. You are in an environment where there are unbelievable amounts of free resources and people who want you to succeed. Find some pals, cook up an idea, and give it a shot. At the very least, it will teach you some invaluable lessons about people and business execution.”

What was the happiest moment of your life?The happiest day of my life was the day that my mother came out of retirement and accepted a job offer to be a teacher. She was an extremely talented and passionate educator as a young woman, but she gave up her love for teaching to raise me and all of my siblings. Her return to education was a result of over two years of hard work, and it was all driven by her desire to help young people find their way.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my company, Dark Horse Sports Recruiting, which I cofounded with my classmate Brandon Ruggles. It is so rare to find a business model that is financially sustainable with a serious social impact, but I believe we have found one. Working with my partner and our entire staff, we’ve managed to help hundreds of students get into their dream schools to play their collegiate sport. My hope is that their decision on where to spend their next four years, guided by our staff, will have a forty-year positive impact on their lives.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? If my brand was an animal, it would be an elephant. I am cautious, but can apply my strengths to achieve goals when I commit to a project. While I am not excessively social, I am extremely loyal and supportive within small groups and on an individual level. My professional and personal features taken together are a fairly uncommon combination that can be very powerful so long as they are applied in the right context.

Who would you most want to thank for your success?  I want to thank educators in general. I have had so many tremendous teachers, from my parents to my current college professors. Teachers are usually overworked, underpaid, and rarely appreciated. Yet those teachers who commit to their students lives can improve them tremendously for the better. They certainly shaped mine.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? I hope that my peers remember me as someone who was more concerned about service to others than service to my own interests.

Favorite book: Will the Last Person to Leave the Planet Please Shut Off the Sun? By Mike Resnick

Favorite movie: Blazing Saddles

Favorite musical performer: Regina Spektor

Favorite vacation spot: Helsinki, Finland

What are your hobbies? Retirement planning fascinates me. It is an intriguing attempt to predict the future and create a plan that is robust enough to meet your own personal goals. One of my favorite pastimes is teaching personal finance topics to my peers and others in the community.

I am an avid runner of obstacle course races, competing in numerous Spartan Races over the last three years.

My entire family bakes desserts and other sweets, and it is one of my favorite holiday hobbies. Our specialty is snicker doodles and zucchini bread.

What made Benjamin such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017?

Summary Comment: “What’s so remarkable about Ben is that he’s totally unconcerned with himself.  The moment he achieves something, or something comes his way, he only thinks about how he can leverage it to serve humanity, especially those in the greatest need.  Ben is the most impressive person I’ve ever encountered and I can’t imagine anyone who will do more good.”

Full Recommendation: “Benjamin Fouch is a remarkable human being.  I enthusiastically recommend him for admission to the Yale Silver Scholars Program. I have known Ben since I had the pleasure of teaching him Corporate Financial Management during his sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame. Ben has a dazzling intellect, is one of the most energetic people I know, and has a tremendous passion to help the underserved.

Ben produced spectacular work in every phase of our course. He was always thoroughly prepared for class, participated very actively, regularly visited office hours to discuss advanced concepts and interpretations, worked every optional problem and many that were not assigned, and consistently completed assignments well in advance of course deadlines. His highly relevant and extremely sophisticated questions contributed substantively to my knowledge of finance. The questions Ben asked in and out of class are the most perceptive I’ve encountered in my career. My course, rated as one of the most difficult at the university, came nowhere close to challenging Ben.

Also in our course, Ben distinguished himself in group projects, in which he earned the highest attainable score.  Ben’s peers reported that he was the driving force behind group assignments.  As Ben’s talent and leadership skills were immediately apparent, I intentionally assigned two of the weakest class members to Ben’s group. These students later remarked that the group assignments with Ben were their most positive experiences in the course. One tabbed Ben “the ultimate team player.” The other gushed “Ben inspired me to reach a level I could not have achieved on my own.” Ben’s skills were recognized by other class members. On the final case assignment, a huge percentage of the class asked to work with Ben!

In his junior and senior year, Ben served as one of my Teaching Assistants. I employ six Teaching Assistants per semester. Ben is the best Teaching Assistant I’ve ever had, always guiding students in a kind, clear, patient, and friendly manner. At his own expense, he often stayed beyond his assigned hours, to make sure students mastered the material.

Out of the classroom, Ben makes an even more astonishing impression. In leadership activities, conversation, action, integrity, his superhuman work ethic, an incredible record of extracurricular experiences and his passionate devotion to service, Ben shows maturity and accomplishments way beyond his years. Even at his young age, he has already performed an immense amount of meaningful service. And Ben and I have often talked late into the evening, about his plans to serve humanity. Ben seeks to substantially improve educational accessibility.  He has the energy, will and ambition to do it. And with training at Yale School of Management, he will have the knowledge. He is already running a highly successful educational business.

Ben is also a piercing thinker, and may be the most articulate individual I have ever spoken with. Ten seconds into a discussion with Ben, the conversation has real depth. Ben is one of very few students that when he approaches me in the hallway, my senses dramatically sharpen, because I know I will have to be at my best to meaningfully converse with him. He is also one of very few students I call on for advice, because I value his penetrating insight. On top of all this, Ben is the most pleasant person imaginable. He’s stunningly polite and humble, an outstanding listener, and generates enormous respect from others. Students across the university seek him out for advice, and he always uplifts them. Faculty and students are in awe of him.

Ben is accomplishing more than any other student at Notre Dame. It would be a rare student who could match his prowess in any of eight major areas — scholarship, leadership, keenness of mind, integrity, congeniality, work ethic, humility and passion to make an enormous difference.  I write today because I believe you should be aware of a candidate of such extraordinary drive, talent, character and promise. Ben may be the most impressive person I’ve ever encountered.  I can’t imagine a person that will do more good.”

Carl Ackermann
Nolan Professor for Excellence in Undergraduate Instruction
Department of Finance
University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business

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