“On my last day of my internship this summer, I came back from a coffee chat to find Ann Simonds at my desk. Simonds is the Chief Marketing Officer at General Mills International. She came to wish me farewell and thank me for the pastries I had made for the entire marketing department that day. I admire Simonds for her charm, drive, ability to motivate a large team, and commitment to her self-identity. She hugged me good bye on my last day of work. She met with me over coffee to discuss the challenges she faces as a CMO and her goals with the position. She did a cartwheel while dressed like a punk rocker during a fun GMI marketing event. Originally from Colorado, this woman has stayed true to herself throughout her entire career. Her passion for people and desire to improve is evident in the way she treats her employees and coworkers. I’m honored to have met Simonds, blessed to consider her one of my mentors, and thankful to have learned from her. She inspires me to achieve and never feel inadequate for a position due to my limitations. Limitations are only an obstacle, an obstacle that can easily be overcome with determination and hard work.” – Ashley Martinez, Indiana University (Kelley)
“Sean Duffy is the cofounder and CEO of Omada Health, a leading digital health platform that inspires lasting behavior change in anyone at risk for chronic disease. His past record as an MD/MBA candidate for Harvard and employee at IDEO and Google, paired with his genuine passion for making a change in everyone’s daily habits for healthier lifestyles, has made him such an admirable figure for my personal career pursuits.” – Larissa Purnell, University of Southern California (Marshall)
“Other than the obvious answer of Elon Musk (because he is an entrepreneurial machine), I would have to say Yancey Strickler. Not only is he a William and Mary alum, but he co-founded Kickstarter, a website that allows startups to gain funding for their projects. This site is becoming more popular year-after-year and is promoting the startup culture and innovation everywhere and in every field.” – Erica Amatori, William and Mary (Mason)
“An entrepreneur that I admire is Dominique Ansel. Beyond the fact that I’m a big dessert person and am amazed by his culinary creations, I admire his ability to have a great vision and execute it effectively. The baked goods market is a highly competitive one (especially in a city like New York), but his creativity and constant innovation has allowed him to turn his bakery into one of New York City’s most popular tourist destinations. I also praise his ability to cater his products to the market in which they are sold. The ability to understand one’s customers is essential to being a successful executive/entrepreneur, and Dominique Ansel has succeeded at offering products that are well-suited to his customer’s needs and wants.” – Cristina Gutierrez, University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)
“This past year I had the opportunity to go to an event where I met Amy Rees Anderson. Amy is an amazing entrepreneur. She started from humble beginnings but created a life for herself through hard work and dedication. Amy’s story and advice will continue to inspire me throughout my life.” – McKenzi McDonald, Brigham Young University (Marriott)
“There are too many inspirational social entrepreneurs today, so I cannot pick only one. I have two:
Alex Klein, Cofounder, Kano: Alex was challenged by his six-year-old cousin to invent a computer that was as simple and fun as LEGOs. Because Alex saw a need and a potential, he created Kano, a do-it-yourself hacker toy, which provides an introduction to computer hardware and programming for children. Alex took the product to Kickstarter, and raised over $100,000 in only 16 hours. As Alex says, “You don’t have to be an expert to do something cool. You don’t have to have letters after your name or lines under it on the resume to go out there and explore the world and start reshaping it.”
Curt Bowen, Cofounder, Semilla Nueva: Curt grew up on a small organic farm in Idaho, and he received a degree in Philosophy. Although he didn’t major in business, he understood the power of business, and therefore, founded and created a company that has led environmental and rural development in Central America for over nine years. Curt’s company helps further develop the economy by creating more efficient processes and providing more sustainable technology.
– Ethan Muehlstein, University of Notre Dame (Mendoza)
“The entrepreneur I admire most is my mother. Before she could get a college education, the Vietnam War tore apart her home and she was forced to escape to America and confront the reality of raising a family in a foreign country without any of the resources I have today – English fluency, an American upbringing, and a lifetime of education. Despite all of that, mom always had a natural business acumen. That allowed her to start a frozen yogurt chain and now a restaurant in south Texas, allowing her to not only provide a comfortable life for me and my brother, but also employment and healthy eating options on the Texan border. It was the first time I really learned about the huge implications business has on our society. In the broader sense, business is an agent to transform the community and revitalize the economy. In the very personal sense, it is a vehicle for a smart, passionate woman to build her future despite incredibly challenging circumstances. Finally, I most admire Mom for her work as an entrepreneur because she defined her business in her own terms and taught me how to stay hungry and humble, against all odds.” – Rachael Huynh, University of Texas (McCombs)
“There are two entrepreneurs I truly admire: co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, and founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation, and Co-founder of Atlas Mara, Ashish Thakkar.
Reid Hoffman clearly has his fair share of accomplishments and successes, but what I truly admire is his vision for the world and the importance of connectivity between people. These were crucial facets in his ability to launch Paypal and LinkedIn. I admire his ability to be successful through meaningful relationship building.
Ashish Thakkar is simply an inspiring individual who has surpassed all odds to be among the world’s most successful businessmen. Despite witnessing endless tragedy as a child and growing up with little to his name, he channels his success towards revitalizing the African continent, where he grew up. His tenacity, compassion, and social ambassadorship truly awe and inspire me on a daily basis. I admire his constant ability to support others while being successful in his own life, and his vision for the future of Africa and our entire planet.
– Samir Goel, New York University (Stern)
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