My view on the role of Entrepreneurs in a “booming” ecosystem

Oriana Torres, MBA Student Babson College
December 20th, 2012

“ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM? Another academic jargon-  you might say. I wonder how many Entrepreneurs know the concept … and if they actually should know it from a technical perspective. Probably not. But what I wonder is, if Colombian Entrepreneurs are aware enough to NAVIGATE such ecosystem and make the most out of it – genuinely and strategically.”

Fist of all, I want to open making the disclaimer that I am not an entrepreneur, although, yes, I opened a restaurant in northern Bogota (Colombia) as a side business back in 2010. The business failed and the reasons why it failed are crystal-clear to me today. I guess this is a “fashionable” thing to share nowadays that our culture finally starts to understand that failure is inherent to innovation and entrepreneurship. But this post is neither about my “low-growth” previous entrepreneurial try, nor about me. This post is about all those privileged, real, High Impact Entrepreneurs out there. And even if I just stated that I am not an Entrepreneur, I have spent lots of time around them to the point that I am more than confident to write the following thoughts. 

It’s a good moment to be an Entrepreneur in Colombia, specially if you are a Dynamic, High-Growth, High Impact one – “label” it however you want: it’s a good moment to be a visionary leader, who identifies an uncontested market space, captures the extraordinary value around it and makes sure such endeavor GROWS healthy and sustainably.  And it’s a good moment because since couple of years things are changing and a solid  ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM seems to be emerging in our country.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP ECOSYSTEM? Another academic jargon, might you say. I wonder how many Entrepreneurs know the concept … and if they actually should know it from a technical perspective. Probably not. But what I wonder is, if Colombian Entrepreneurs are aware enough to NAVIGATE such ecosystem and make the most out of it – genuinely and strategically.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, I was born and raised by Endeavor. Great parents, I must say. Right now I’m entering the adulthood thanks to the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project and  Babson College where I am doing my MBA (which included a summer sabbatical at iNNpulsa Colombia, the National Agency for Innovation and Dynamic Entrepreneurship in Colombia). And because I have been a lucky apprentice around those who are trying to figure out how to stimulate a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem for Colombia, I would like to offer you Entrepreneurs some advice on the role that you are encouraged to play in such a booming ecosystem.

 Make sure you understand YOU are the center of the model

All the institutions and policies around the topic of entrepreneurship exist for a reason: to make sure more and better High Growth Entrepreneurs scale to a point where  - apart from fulfilling their personal dreams - the entrepreneur’s companies  move the needle of the economy in terms of economic capital (jobs, contribution to GDP), intellectual capital (innovative solutions, patents), cultural capital (powerful narratives, role modeling), among many other societal benefits. So, YOU, Mrs/Mr Entrepreneur, please remember that you are the end consumer, the ultimate beneficiary of the system. Live your role. Claim your place. Often I see Entrepreneurs rather “intimidated” by the organizations that support entrepreneurship, scared of knocking doors or full of paradigms about how those catalyzing institutions work. Rescuing an amazing quote from Wences Casares, an Endeavor Global Entrepreneur, he said that “Theory is when nothing works & we know exactly why, practice is when everything works & we have no clue why”. You Entrepreneurs are the practice, you are the living proof of what works and what doesn’t, and while the best thought leaders in the ecosystem have been entrepreneurs and/or investors, is it you, Mrs/Mr Entrepreneur, who needs to expose yourself to the system so that it always remembers why it was established in first place. Don’t be concerned about  “fitting” in a movement that is precisely meant to understand and catalyze you.

Differentiate the “great” from the “not that great”

An ecosystem is an emerging structure, no matter how oxymoronic it sounds when we say that “we are working to build it”. It’s a living process where at times it’s very hard to answer the question weather if policy, programs or access to capital precede the existence of great entrepreneurs or viceversa. But the point that I try to make is that, because it’s an emerging system there are not “gates” to it and it’s hard to control who is in there and therefore, as an Entrepreneur you will be likely to find “great” and  “not that great” actors out there. Use your criteria and be wise. Not every program will be well thought. Not every “mentor” will act as a real a mentor. Not every capital offer will be “smart” for your business. And this advice is particularly relevant since some of the programs out there are extremely attractive because they are easily attainable or “free”, to the point that entrepreneurs feel tempted to just participate in whatever they find as a manifestation of the well known “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out). Set your priorities, look for strategic fits and be selective in terms of whom you work with.

Good things come with a price, so do the homework

Often I meet entrepreneurs that just do not want to do the homework. As H. Roark once said, "to get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences".  Even if institutions in the ecosystem are doing a great job marketing who they are and how they operate (and in my opinion few of them even “babysit” entrepreneurs!) you must put in the hours to do what it takes to benefit from the system. And this goes from basic things such as following the relevant social media channels of institutions to be informed of opportunities, over doing quality applications that really do reflect the reality and plans of your company, over networking to make sure you really understand what the ecosystem as a whole has to offer. You, Entrepreneurs, are thousands and the leading organizations are probably only tens, so there must be standard procedures in place for these organizations to interact with you and you need, if applicable, to commit to those. It is understandable that an Entrepreneur’s main responsibility is to “take care of her/his company” and that time is the one of the scarcest resources, that’s why the key is to a align with those organizations and programs that really fall into your own agenda, so that they become leverage points, rather than “extra random tasks” in your TO DO list. Be organized and proactive.

Help the ecosystem institutions be better

Here is the catch: Because our country is in diapers in terms of an entrepreneurship ecosystem, many of the institutions that foster entrepreneurship are also start-ups and scale-ups themselves. They might be under the umbrella of strong global brands or even under the government, but things are being “professionally figured out as they happen”, these institutions are pivoting too! That means that YOU, as the end consumer, play a key role offering candid feedback though formal and informal channels to those organizations on how to SERVE YOU better. It’s very easy to criticize when we are upset about the content of an event, or about the requirements or outcome of an application process, but it adds more value for all to come back and express what should -in your opinion- be different. Dare to do that, it’s one of the most important roles you can play.

  Give Back

Something that I admire particularly from the Entrepreneurs of Endeavor is their fierce commitment to “Give Back”. For them, giving back means belonging to a network where they play a role of a “member” rather than the sole role of a “receiver”, despite their clear condition of benefiter. Giving Back in a genuine attitude and manifests itself in many forms and moments. Here is an example. Few months back I was collecting data from entrepreneurs (applying a survey) that was very relevant for a research I was running for iNNpulsa Colombia: the few entrepreneurs that took 15 minutes of their time to answer my questions were giving back to the ecosystem. Yes, surveys are boring, but do you see the bigger picture of what could be accomplished by that and how this can benefit all of us? Giving Back could also be something way more rewarding such as mentoring/investing in a younger entrepreneur, or doing a public presentation telling your Entrepreneurial story to society. Don’t underestimate the power of your narratives, they might well be the only real driver of change an ecosystem has. At this point my message does not go towards what specifically to do to give back (this can be an interesting whole new reflection), but towards the importance of seeing your “residence” in a particular entrepreneurial ecosystem as a two-way process.

One of the things I loved about the last visit of iNNpulsa Colombia to the President of Colombia Juan ManuelSantos was the fact that they brought along Entrepreneurs, whose stories were actually in the spotlight of the meeting. To me, that sent a strong message, which is the same message I felt like passing through this post. You, Entrepreneurs, are the reason for this entire boom. This is about YOU, not about we, that talk about it.

If there is a moment to become and High Growth Entrepreneur in Colombia, it’s now. Dance with the ecosystem, be bold!

Disclaimer: Opinions presented are my own and do not represent the organizations that are named in this article.


Surviving change Vs. being the change

A short refection on this article
http://www.economist.com/node/21542796 ... warming up for my Strategies for Innovation & Growth Class, this saturday.

After reading the article, one "extreme" and probably naive reflection came to my mind:  surviving in a changing environment is all about forgetting "who you are" and simply ensuring that cash comes through the door. Let me explain what I mean.

I might have anchored too much in the example of how Fuji used its capabilities in chemicals for films, to move into the cosmetics space (but I'll still use it). From the technology point of view, the application of the antioxidant "technology" used in films to a skin care products makes a lot of sense. However (besides the technology we just talked about) - what do a  film making firm and a cosmetics firm have in common? 

Fuji's reaction to the imminent change is indeed impressive, however I see its merit around "staying live", rather than around re-shaping its industry or space. They simply created another business, being smart enough to leverage in an "inheritance" (call it cash, technology, or even a market). And by the way, this new business is not necessarily innovative, from a buyer perspective (despite the detailed features described) to me Astalift looks very similar to what Este Lauder, Clinique or any of those cosmetic companies offer). I am not trying to undermine the brilliance of Fuji. The stories I am trying to contrast is the one of "Fuji moving into new spaces because its space is dead" Vs. "Fuji/Kodak adding smart phone capabilities to their cameras". The first story is about substitution of revenue streams, the second is about real evolution or transformation of your industry.

Any thoughts?


Last July 18th of 2012 was the public launch of "Manizales Mas" ("Manizales Plus", in english), the first initiative of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project in Colombia. 

As described in a recent article by Newswise, "the project will seek to enrich the city’s entrepreneurship ecosystem to support ambitious entrepreneurs in rapidly starting new ventures, while accelerating and scaling existing ones". Manizales is a city in central Colombia, capital of the Department of Caldas and part of the region of Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis.

Seeing the project becoming a reality was extremely special for me, not just because I am a Babson student from Colombia, but also because the project is one of the manifestations of how the understanding of what entrepreneurship really means is slowly changing. Four particular things called my attention during the launch ceremony:

  • The "lingo" is changing: Before coming to Babson as a student, I used to work at Endeavor Colombia. The more I learned about the concept of High Impact Entrepreneurship thanks to my job, the more I was exposed to the difficulties that our national ecosystem faced to even understand the term. However, seeing local entrepreneurs, politicians and of course the local project leaders in Manizales giving speeches where expressions like "self-employment is not entrepreneurship" or "is all about sustainable growth" were used, made me positive about key actors now getting the difference between the diverse types of entrepreneurship and their completely different impacts in the economic development of our country.
  • An example of team work: A quite impressive moment to me was seeing on stage all actors of the project  symbolically committing to the project, pasting "+" signs on the main project wall: there were private sector reps, university reps, government reps, among others.  Colombia has always been known as a very creative, enthusiastic and hardworking culture, but in my opinion collaboration hasn't necessarily been our strength, specially when  it comes to entrepreneurship development projects: there is lots of redundancy and thus, inefficiency. That's why seeing people focusing efforts on a winning project, together, gave me a lot of hope.
  • The power of the regions:  There is the common say that "Colombia is a country of regions", however main entrepreneurship development efforts have been focused around the capital. Even if my home is half  "manizaleño" (being my husband from there and knowing through him the potential of the city), Manizales wouldn't be on my top of mind of cities where you would expect an entrepreneurial revolution to happen. But "Manizales Mas" is proving me wrong. The spotlight is now on Manizales and all Colombian regions have an eye on it to learn from this truly pioneering experience.
  • An "Entrepreneur-centric" model: Despite the multiple players involved "Manizales Mas" is very emphatic about the entrepreneurs being the reason and main beneficiary of the project. I loved that. 
The platform is set, the citizens excited, the actors committed. Good luck to "Manizales Mas" and I look forward to witness and support a first in class bet in Colombia.


Rwandan Entrepreneurs of all kinds

And here I am, in Kigali, Rwanda in a very “comfy” leather couch in a coffee shop where there is fast enough to blog WIFI and - for the record - “the best ginger honey lemon” tea of the world.

Yes, I have been since last 24th of May in Rwanda mainly living in the countryside in a small town called SAVE, in the south of the country.  I have tweeted a lot always using the hashtag #WLPRwanda2012, which is the Program though which I am here: the Babson Women’s Leadership Program.  Yet nor the Tweets neither the pictures I have managed to post of Facebook are enough to capture all what has been lived.  Luckily despite the technology, we humans will always have hearts and minds where all can be stored forever.

There are too many angles from which I could write about Rwanda, and hopefully I will. But being a Babson MBA student, of course I need to start with our DNA topic: ENTREPRENEURSHIP. Specially because just few minutes ago I finished a pleasant Sunday morning meeting with one of them, and get so motivated that remembered that I needed to blog.

Babson celebrates Entrepreneurs of ALL kinds and my short stay in Rwanda has been a playground to meet Entrepreneurs of all kinds. I want to introduce you some of them.

1. Alphonse, the evidence of the power of Corporate Entrepreneurship

I might be over-excited with the whole idea of Corporate Entrepreneurship as one of the most effective ways to create high impact ventures, just because I just started (my first ever!) independent academic research called: “Anatomy of the Colombian High Growth Entrepreneurs: making the case for Corporate Entrepreneurship”, supervised by Babson Professor Jay Rao. The research is inspired in the need of  Innpulsa Colombia, where I will be doing an internship in the second half of my 2012 summer.

But coming back to Alphonse, he is just one of the many cases we expect to find in my research. Alphonse (who is the father of the only Rwandan undergrad student at Babson!) worked for 15+ years in big organizations, being Heineken one of them. He has done Talent Management, Marketing and Corporate Development functions and now he is focusing in developing a conglomerate of Education/Career Development companies, as I see it! Partly with support of Babson he launched already a Business Language Institute in Rwanda, which he put into action right after a team of Babson students helped him with the Business Plan some years back. Heineken is being a true Anchor Firm for him, not only was Heineken his first client, but also they even gave him space in their premises to host the business. “I talked directly to the CEO and he loved the idea”, “I have the network” – are some of the aspects he shared with me and show the powerful role of Anchor firms.

Now Alphonse wants to move on with a Career Development firm, by the way totally in synergy with his current a Business Language Institute. We meet to see how I could help him developing the product and we do have a roadmap for that! I was too passionate since I am also passionate about Education and the opportunities in this space in countries as Rwanda and my own Colombia are infinite. The developed world has so many models that are just waiting to be adapted to our realities, and as Professor Isenberg says, many times is all about “minnovation”.

Me and Alphonse, in Kigali

2. Geraldine, First Rwandan Woman in the Supreme Court

Geraldine was the first Rwandan leader we met after we landed in Kigali. Ben, one of the country directors of the Babson Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center whispered to me after we sat in the table in Heaven Restaurant with Geraldine the following: “She is a very modest person, but she has an amazing story behind being the first Rwandan Woman making it to the Supreme Court”.

My lesson from Geraldine: Balance and family. Although you expected her to talk about all what it took her to make it to Harvard despite her humble origins, she was very emphatic sharing her conscious effort to be a “A” wife, “A” daughter and “A” mother. “I shower my kids, just to make sure every day there is nothing wrong in their bodies”  - she said. And her agenda does look like the one of someone that is even in town enough to do that, but she does. Another inspiring aspect is how she talked about her parents, even if not with her, everything she does is oriented to make them proud.

Me and Geraldine

3. Robin Smyth, The social Entrepreneur behind African Bagel Company

Robyn, a nurse by profession, and his husband moved from the USA to Rwanda with their 4 kids to drive social change. I can’t find a simpler way to describe it. She had her family had always been involved I social initiatives to support Africa but at some point they felt they could and needed to do more. After few visits before to Rwanda, they decided one day that they would stay for a longer period of time to see if they could adapt and establish there. And they indeed did adapt and establish. 

Roby founded the AFRICAN BAGEL COMPANY (ABC), that is “THE” place to go in Kigali if you want “American style” bakery goods, specially bagels, doughnuts, cakes, chips, sandwiches and all that goodies that seen “common” to us but a rare treat when you are an expat in Rwanda. You have to see how full this place was on saturday. Insane!

Well, but that's not the real success of ABC. Behind ABC there is an institute to train and empower Rwandan women in cooking and customer care - Rwandan hands are the ones that bake, package and sale the goods and they have found in this new activity a gateway out of poverty. It is still a relative small model in terms of the quantity of women supported, yet the more I am in Africa the more I realize the High Scale Change is an oxymoron. You start with a small community and then you replicate. And this is more and less how Robyn sees it happening. 

My lesson from Robyn: Impact is to be done in the ground and if you feel that the place where you are at is not close enough to that playground, you need to find ways to get closer, even if it implies leaving your whole life behind for a while. Understand first the people you are trying to help, only through doing that you will be able to support and empower them better. 

The Babson WLP Team with Robyn

Life is good. When you are around role models anywhere in the world, nothing can just go wrong.
Hope to have time to blog even often, since certainly the list of entrepreneurs to talk about goes on. For now, it’s time to pay for the delicious tea and go back to my students!


Let’s keep Social Media real: insights from a Social Media User

During the second “Global Connections Through Technology” (GCTT) class at Babson College, Professor Bala Iyer asked the provocative question: “What do you use social media for?” As a student sitting in his class, I answered that to me the use of Social Media was an extension of my purpose. This answer was in contrast to students’ answers such as “to stay in touch with friends”, “to obtain the latest news” or “to get exposed to potential employers”. My answer might seem pretty “philosophical” but represents what at least to me, matters most while interacting with someone on Social Networks.

I am not a Social Media expert (especially when it comes to the corporate sector). Despite the education I am receiving at Babson, my personal ambition is not to become a Social Media expert. I am though a heavy user of Social Media since the early days and I enjoy introducing friends and family members to the basics of the Social Media world.

With so much emphasis put nowadays into the role and “do’s and don’ts” of Social Networks, I am disappointed about Social Media turning into a space of unreal individuals. Here are some of my concerns:

“But, I do not know what to tweet!”

That’s what many people new to Twitter (as an example) tell me. My automatic reaction to this is that it’s not about what to tweet: it’s about what you are inspired by and ultimately, about who you are. Talking about your purpose on Social Media sounds like a scary and complex concept, but let me give you a real life example that proves it is not.

The mother of a good friend of mine is a housewife. She blogs and tweets about how “to make everything very special” – which also happens to be the name of her blog. The difference between her and any other user, is that she truly narrates stories on how she carefully selects each detail for each occasion in her home (a meal, a gift, a decoration, a medicine), what inspired her to do so, what her family thought, and in general, how she sees a value in making extraordinary things to unite her family.  
Her purpose is not to post heartless “meal recipes” or “craft instructions” which you could find in any website or magazine.

To unite her family. That is her purpose.  

When you are genuine about your purpose, a community starts to build around it. That’s how followers, contacts and friends arrive.

Social Media is an attitude, not a strategic plan

As much as I value the exercises that we are doing as part of the GCTT class on Personal Digital Presence, I believe that interest for Social Media is not something that you gain by stating it in a written plan, although it’s certainly a start.

Let’s assume the clarity on your purpose is checked. Is that enough? My answer to that is no. More than a plan you need to have the right attitude. When your mind and your fingers are ready to tweet, or to “pin” on Pinterest, or when paragraphs flow while writing a blog post without even thinking of steps and rules. You realize that you not only have the attitude but the habit of Social Media.

Everyday I un-follow and un-friend at least 1 person. The main reason is that those people created a profile, but never cared to share anything. Why follow a “dead” profile? I tell friends that they should not have a Social Media presence if they are not going to care of it.

Attitude for Social Media also means being open to embrace the implications of expressing your purpose, such as critiques on your opinions and loss of followers. When people stop following you on some networks should not always be seen as something negative, because it could be the best evidence that your audience is adjusting based on the topics you chose to share.

The risks of building an image of someone that you are not

Recently during a visit back home, I sat during an 1-hour bus ride next to a person that I know but that I had not seen for a very long time. I have been following him on Twitter and Facebook, so was not an issue to track what this person was up to.  As an icebreaker, I asked him to tell me more about an article he recently posted on Facebook about a topic that I also happen to be highly engaged with. “Oh yes, that article” – he said.  “I put many links out there, but I rarely read them myself”.

After hearing that, I totally lost my respect for this person.

I want to follow real people, not images of what they want others to see of them. Everything we share or support on Social Networks, should be a mirror of aspects that we are ready to discuss in person.

“Yes” to humanization of brands

My favorite brands on Social Media are those that while interacting with them feel as if I would be talking to a human. One unforgettable example that I have is Coca-Cola.
Last year when doing grocery shopping I discovered a new presentation of Coke on the shelf: a tiny, beautiful can, which I had never seen before and instantly captured my attention. Still in the grocery store I took a picture of it and uploaded it on Twitter, sharing how much I liked it. To my surprise, within minutes, CocaCola had already answered my Tweet, even mentioning my first name.

Evidence of my Coca-Cola Twitter conversation back in May 2011

What a different feeling is to get such a warm response versus getting “automated replies”. I am not intending to say that all companies must have thousands of human beings just dedicated to engaging with customers over Social Media, but in the spirit of “keeping Social Media real” brands should consider including elements that go from static self promotion into an ongoing conversation with clients. And yes, that has a real impact in their economic bottom-line. Coming back to my Coca Cola example, since the day our little Twitter interaction happened, I have NEVER asked for a Pepsi when Coke has been available. Since that day Coca Cola is MY FRIEND, not just a vendor.

As a user which engages with like-minded individuals and brands every day, I can’t stress more that what gives people and companies the edge on social media is keeping a real tone. Social Media is not a shop window, where only a one-way communication happens. Social Media is a playground where thoughts and feelings are exchanged and for that, authenticity is the key.


One day (or a short refection on kindness)

"all my life I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
for the people to say
that we don't wanna fight no more
they'll be no more wars
and our children will play"

This song video by Matisyahu is everytwhere in the social networks. When I finally opened it (sometimes I am skeptical about the quality of the stuff that is overly shared on Facebook) I understood the reason for such hype. It's beautiful.

Where the heck do you learn to be kind? How the heck to you teach to be kind? How do you scale simple acts of kindness as the ones seen on the video into a higher level of reality? And actually, would our world be better if ...?


First set of lessons from the first quarter of the Babson MBA

25 % of my MBA time is over and few lessons have been learned. You can scale technology, operations, a business … but the toughest thing to scale is the human brain. BABSON offers you intelectual transformation, personal transformation, professional transformation.

One of three sections of the Babson MBA Class of 2013
Lesson 1: “Academic success is all about strategy”. Despite the overall satisfaction I have with my academic experience and performance (measured not just by a GPA but by the real skills and vision I’m gaining), I would be lying if I say that I prepared for each and every class the way that I would have wanted. When some of our professors told us that for every academic hour of class they are mandated to give approximately 3 hours of preparation in the form of readings or assignments I just could not believe it – considering that we had 4 hours of class a day! But it turned out to be true for most of the days.
Unlike the way it works in undergrad (at least in mine) at an MBA level preparation is not a “plus” or a “nice to have”. Many students might argue about this, but my personal opinion is that without preparing for class you are on one hand losing money (have you ever calculated how much you pay for a MBA hour of class?) and on the hand you just acquire extra stress and frustration resulting from accumulated material that you never managed to understand.  With very few exceptions, if I wanted to be fully immersed in a class, it seemed that there was no option but preparing. So what do you do? It took me few months to realize that it is human not to have the time to cover every reading, every exercise, and that it is all about strategy: a strategy sustained on self-awareness and prioritization. Self-awareness to be objective enough to realize what you are good at and what not good at and thus, devote more time to the latter, replacing procrastination by strategic prioritization. Self-awareness to realize if you are better at participating “live” during classes or rather performing on exams. And so you build your strategy around all those variables.
Easier said than done … I know. I still do not master it, but I guess I still have ¾ of my MBA to do it. “At Babson you earn your degree the old-fashion way, you have to work hard for it” – said our Dean during orientation last August. He was very right.
Lesson 2: “Co-curricular experience is one of the strongest ways to really connect with fellow students”. I must confess that I freak out a bit when I think of all the co-curricular activities I am part of (specially after facing the time scarcity I talked about in Lesson 1!), to the point that I feel compromising my own sanity! I am in leadership team of 5 clubs/groups, plus I have a part time on campus job – and I won’t tell you how many opportunities I forced myself to ignore! Saying “no” has always been one of my top weaknesses. Yet feeling involved in leadership roles and creative initiatives does not only motivate me but also is a wonderful way to mingle with people beyond the classroom. Being part of such groups gives me a sense of legacy for the school and to me this is one of the strongest ways to give back to Babson.
One aspect that also I learned to cultivate and keep cultivating is spiritual life. I am so happy that I could find the service of catholic mass on campus and that (as picky as I am regarding the masses I attend) it meets my criteria for actually returning to a certain church: the priest is a good speaker and they have good music.  It seems to me that the Babson multi-faith chapel shall offer the same to practitioners of other religions.
Lesson 3: “It’s never too early to start working systematically on career development”. I know this might sound like a “standard” or even obvious advice, but I just want to ratify it. Building a good relationship to the center of career development of your school as early as possible is crucial; I feel that I could have started earlier as a matter of fact. You might be overwhelmed with classes and exams, but in the end, one of the reasons you are doing an MBA is to find a way to impact society through a successful career, and thus, cultivating your career options also requires time since the very first months.  By December 2011 however I have applied to 3 internships for the summer (I know many of my colleges have even applied for more) I totally fell in love with and I am excited to see how those selection processes evolve during early 2012. Babson’s Graduate Center for Career Development is there to help, always, and its personalized approach makes a total difference.
Lesson 4: “Getting proactively involved is the only way to discover opportunities, especially in the No. 1 business school for entrepreneurship”.Being an MBA student in the No. 1 school for entrepreneurship does not make you an entrepreneur by osmosis. Even if the Babson “Entrepreneurial Thought and Action in organizations of all kinds” is immersed in the majority of the academic streams, if you are an entrepreneur you have to proactively search and involve in all opportunities the school offers. I am happy to be part of three which are the Babson Venture Accelerator Program, but specially the CATALYZE CHANGE WORKSHOP SERIES and the Social Innovators’ Action Learning Network, the last two designed and lead by the BABSON LEWIS INSTITUE FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION. I love the experience with the LEWIS INSTITUTE since both of their programs I am part to are focused on myself, as a person, as an individual that plans to start an entrepreneurial venture and that needs to acknowledge her limitations in a genuine way. The cohort of like minded people involved in those programs is amazing and a great source of inspiration. I look forward to tell more about it in a subsequent post.