Entrepreneurship is the Best Way to Create Value
Interview with Alejandra Clavería, AméricaEconomía.com
Since 1978 Babson College has centered its efforts on promoting entrepreneurship. Through time, Babson has created and established strong bonds with different institutions around the world in order to share its knowledge in the area of entrepreneurship and to bring these valuable skills from theory to practice.
Currently one of Babson’s main goals is to foster entrepreneurship and its unique ideals in Latin America. To achieve this goal, the Institution has taken the initiative to train faculty in different universities in Chile in the field of entrepreneurship.
In this interview with AméricaEconomía.com, Leonard A. Schlesinger, the Babson College president, discussed the current situation of the university in this economic crisis and what the future holds for the Institution.
How has the economic crisis affected Babson?
Our business model is such that we depend more on admissions than donations, therefore, we have not been greatly affected by the economic downturn. Most universities in the United States, on the other hand, rely greatly on donations and have been affected on more significant levels by today’s economy. Since we are so business oriented, we see an opportunity in the midst of this crisis and continue to grow. These are good times for Babson. For example, an undergraduate admission continues to be stable while MBA admissions have dramatically increased. Each problem brings with it an opportunity and this is Babson’s prime time.
Does this mean that the current economic situation has actually been more beneficial than harmful to Babson?
The current crisis fuels change and forces Babson to change along with it. This allows us to improve and change without having to explain to the world why we are changing because of the economic crisis.
What are the changes you want to promote?
What we have to do in the midst of this economic crisis is identify and create the necessary tools to understand the uncertainty that comes with this crisis and demonstrate we are headed towards the unknown. We should not associate such a strong feeling of guilt with the business environment because this crisis is not so much a matter of ethics since people know wrong from right. We are moving in a different direction where we can create the tools that will help us identify the opportunities this crisis offers us.
What are these tools?
The first tool is thinking and acting in a business fashion, which benefits both the individual and the company. Also entrepreneurship, which is a method that can be reproduced, documented, taught, and finally, people with the business mentality that makes them capable of creating value will foster change.
Why have you focused on the diffusion of entrepreneurship?
Our interest in entrepreneurship began since 1978, and without a doubt, Babson is the pioneer in this subject and we have all intentions in continuing our leadership and through that, have the ability to change the world economy. We consider entrepreneurship the best way with which to create value and that signifies creating jobs in the countries. Secondly, innovation is born through entrepreneurship and this is extremely important, especially for developing countries.
Is this why you chose to promote it in Latin America?
Babson makes the transition from identifying an idea to developing an opportunity and when we identify an opportunity we do not focus merely on the market but on our resources such as our alumni population which has a large concentration in Latin America. For many years we have been very active in the process of creating educational products to train professors in the various methods of entrepreneurship and how they can teach it to their students in Latin America. The goal of these efforts has been to foster the right type of environment where innovation can flourish.
What will be Babson’s mission once the economic crisis is over?
The crisis will never end. This crisis transcends to businesses, governments, and people and they are always changing and evolving towards the uncertain. What matters is not what we will do, but what we are doing. Our mission from now on will be to create a new generation of leaders which are opportunity obsessed and create value in other places in the world, but also have the skills to develop them. This is an opportunity to rebuild and adapt the tools and that is what we are achieving.
Originally published June 23, 2009 as Emprendimiento es la mejor forma de crear valor on AméricaEconomía.com.