All in the Family
For the Burrill sisters, Babson runs in the family.
On a college visit that was meant for her older sisters—Kinsley Perry ’04, MBA’11 and
Erica Burrill Franz ’04, MBA’11—Vanessa Burrill ’06 decided she would attend Babson. Now all three are making an impact at their family business.
WGB Homes, has been building and designing neighborhoods throughout central Massachusetts for 45 years. When the housing bubble burst, competitors closed their doors. WGB Homes, however, thrived, thanks in part to the entrepreneurial mindset instilled in the Burrills by their parents and by Babson.
“The recession forced us to think outside of the box and try different things to stay one step ahead,” says Vanessa, who joined the company immediately after graduation.
That desire to stay one step ahead also is what ultimately brought Erica into the family business. Having previously worked in marketing for the New England Patriots, she was tasked with developing a marketing strategy for WGB Homes that met the ever-shifting needs of its customer base and differentiated the company from competitors. This meant essentially starting from scratch, thinking beyond traditional open houses and the Sunday newspaper advertisements that had driven the company’s marketing strategy for so long.
Their entrepreneurial spirit prepared them to grow and adapt to the changes to the market presented by the recession. “We had to constantly evolve,” says Erica. This evolution included everything from partnering with Energy Star to expanding their advertising channels to reach broader markets.
Kinsley also came to the business from a varied background—including pharmaceutical sales and startups—which helped her gain perspective when working with family. “My experience kept me open-minded, constantly wanting to learn more to grow and change in a fast-paced world.”
This external experience, coupled with their passion for the family business, has helped each sister thrive and continue to work hard in an often challenging environment.
“People have this perception that you don’t have to work hard if you are in a family business,” says Vanessa. “But, there is a lot more at stake when dealing with your family’s name and reputation.”
Committed to Babson
“I love the Babson community,” says Kinsley. “Anywhere you go in the world, it’s easy to find a connection back to Babson.”
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For the Burrills, those connections have been easy to maintain thanks to their continued involvement with the college and its various programs for current students and alumni. Vanessa has sat on various Babson entrepreneurship, real estate, and family business panels, while Erica has served as a mentor for the
Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL), a role she and Kinsley benefited from as undergraduates. In fact, it was Erica’s CWEL mentor who helped Kinsley land her first job in pharmaceutical sales.
Their career successes aside, the Burrills credit their continued involvement with Babson on the impressiveness of the student body.
“Students at Babson rarely give up or throw in the towel—they’re always striving for more,” says Kinsley.
That dedication, commitment, and real-world preparation has proven invaluable to the sisters, and they recognize those attributes in all alumni. Says Vanessa: “Not one of us would pass on the opportunity to work with, work for, or hire another Babson alumni.”
Now, as Erica looks to take on a new career outside of the family business, she’s leveraging Babson’s alumni network to help her along. “Fellow alumni have given me advice, looked over my résumé, inquired about open positions,” says Erica. “They’ve been phenomenal.”