In early May, Oregon MBAs and the Lundquist College community welcomed six of the brightest entrepreneurial minds in business today to the Lillis Business Complex for a day of learning and engagement. The group included:
- Nicole Bassett, Co-Founder of The Renewal Workshop
- Tim Boyle, CEO of Columbia Sportswear
- Pete Hixson, CEO of Pistil
- Andy Laats, Executive Chairman of Nixon
- Jason Levin, CEO of Dos Gringos
- Saundra Pelletier, CEO of Evofem Biosciences
Scott Kerslake, CEO of PrAna and James F. and Shirley J. Rippey Professor of Practice, hosted the business leaders on campus as part of his Oregon Advanced Strategy course made up of second-year MBA students. During the morning session, teams of MBAs pitched and discussed their business plans with the CEOs in four sessions with one CEO at a time for twenty minutes.
“Having the opportunity to both pitch to and brainstorm with current CEOs was a high point of the Oregon MBA program, professionally and academically speaking. It highlighted our cohort’s growth over the past two years and affirmed all of our hard work,” reflected Kelly O’Shaughnessy, MBA ’17.
The afternoon portion of the day was the second Oregon Advanced Strategy and Leadership Symposium of the term. Each entrepreneur presented on their journey starting their respective organizations and then participated in a panel discussion moderated by Kerslake about entrepreneurship and strategy.
“It was very surreal to be talking to six entrepreneurs of such high caliber all at once. I appreciated their candor and insight, especially when talking about the risks they took and the challenges of transforming an idea into a full-fledged company,” Anna Raithel, MBA ’17 commented.
Raithel, who will graduate with a concentration in sustainable business practices, was particularly moved by the impact-oriented missions of the companies represented.
“I was inspired by how Nicole Bassett and Saundra Pelletier combined their business savvy with a partnership model to access new markets and drive deeper impact. They created new products and new companies to address pressing environmental and social issues—namely, waste in the apparel industry and access to non-hormonal birth control.”
The entrepreneurs displayed common traits of not being afraid to fail, persistence, and genuine love for the work that they do.
“Overall, it was great to hear the different perspectives from each of the CEOs during the symposium. They were from a variety of industries but there were commonalities across the board when it came to how they went about developing the strategic plans for their companies,” said Evan Tanaka, MBA ’17.