Entrepreneurship to drive economic growth according to Rutgers Business School panel at the London Olympics

Rutgers alumni thrilled at Rutgers Business School’s Thought Leadership program – discussions on sustainable economic growth and athletic excellence – at the USA House during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

LONDON, ENGLAND – On the same night that Usain Bolt thrilled the world with his sprint towards Olympic gold in the 100 meter dash, Rutgers Business School hosted a distinguished panel of experts at the USA House in London to offer ideas on achieving sustainable economic growth. Like Bolt’s run, none of the ideas gained traction until near the end of the discussion when one idea sprinted away from the rest – focus on entrepreneurship.

“Every large company started as a small business,” said Meyer S. (Sandy) Frucher, Vice Chairman of the NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc., who was part of the Thought Leadership panel organized by Rutgers Business School. “Every company started with a dream, an idea. It’s up to government to create the environment for small businesses to be successful.”

Over 64% of new jobs come from small businesses (companies with fewer than 500 employees) according to Diahann W. Lassus, founder, President and Chief Investment Officer of Lassus Wherley, a wealth management firm, who advises many small business owners. “More and more young people are going the route of entrepreneurship,” she said. “And there is still room for the US to catch up to the amount of new businesses being created in China and Brazil.” [See also: Rutgers minor in entrepreneurship and MBA concentration in entrepreneurship.]

Rutgers Business School Thought Leadership at the London Olympics – Sustainable Economic Growth. From left to right: Diahann W. Lassus, founder, President and Chief Investment Officer of Lassus Wherley; Jean-Michel Six, Chief European Economist, Standard & Poor's; moderator Edie Lush, Executive Editor of Hub Culture and former economic and political correspondent for Bloomberg Television; and Meyer S. (Sandy) Frucher, Vice Chairman of the NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Joining Frucher and Lassus in the discussion on sustainable economic growth was Jean-Michel Six, Chief European Economist, Standard & Poor's and Edie Lush, Executive Editor of Hub Culture and former economic and political correspondent for Bloomberg Television, who acted as moderator.

Six brought a detailed prescription to help solve the Euro Zone’s current crisis and achieve economic prosperity by “creating genuine banking union, fiscal union, competitiveness union and eventually political union,” he said. Frucher countered saying that Six’s idea was essentially to make the European Union system like the United States which was having its own difficulties.

Taking part in the hour discussion, Rutgers alumni and friends came to the Royal College of Art on the south side of Hyde Park, sight of the Olympic triathlon, where the US Olympic Committee built a space for United States Olympians past and present, sponsors, and guests to watch the Olympics and celebrate US athletes’ successes at the 2012 London Olympics.

“It was thrilling to have Rutgers be part of the Olympic experience,” said Justin Boyson, who earned his MBA from Rutgers in 2010 and lives and works in London. “The panel discussions were great. I learned a lot. And I connected with a lot of other great Rutgers alumni that I hope to stay in touch with,” he said.

Rutgers Business School Thought Leadership at the London Olympics – Athletic Excellence. From left to right: Jeff Klepacki, US Olympic Rower and Rutgers alum; Wendy Hilliard, US Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics Coach; Gene Davis, US Olympic Wrestling and Gold Medalist in Montreal 1976; Erin Aldrich, US Olympic Track & Field and Volleyball; and Elliot Wilson, writer and journalist for the Economist, the Spectator, the Huffington Post and the Guardian.

The festive atmosphere at the USA House with TVs in every corner feeding the Olympics to the guests overflowed into the Rutgers Business School reception when a High School marching band from Minnesota paraded through the USA House beating drums and blaring horns. “That was extraordinary to witness!” said Richard Hartheimer, a Rutgers Executive MBA alum who also works in London. “I fully expect the Rutgers event in London will result in a more widespread interest on behalf of Rutgers alumni to elevate the Rutgers brand in the UK,” added Hartheimer.

Rutgers Dean Glenn Shafer opened the discussion with a video greeting from New Jersey broadcast over the internet. “I am proud that Rutgers is adding new thoughts to the discussion that is on the minds of governments, investors, and citizens all around the globe,” said Shafer in his remarks.

Athletic Excellence

While many of the Rutgers alumni who attended the event worked in London, some had come from the US for the Olympics and were excited to connect with Rutgers in London. “I am really happy to be part of this,” said Jeff Klepacki who came to London with his brother Brian, both graduates of Rutgers. Klepacki, who now heads Third Party Distribution at Delaware Investments, was a three-time US Olympic rower.

He joined former Olympians Erin Aldrich (high jump and volleyball), Gene Davis (wrestling), and Wendy Hilliard (rhythmic gymnastics coach), in an earlier discussion on athletic excellence, part of Rutgers Business School’s Thought Leadership program at the London Olympics.

The common theme that came through the discussion led by journalist Elliot Wilson, a writer for publications including the Economist, the Spectator, the Huffington Post and the Guardian, was of uninhibited joy in the training and preparation it took to make it to the Olympics. “I was not going to not let it happen,” said Aldrich who competed in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Aldrich recently completed her MBA at UT’s McCombs School of Business which she said was “the best decision of her life.” [See also: Rutgers MBA]

Rutgers alumni and friends taking part in the panel discussions at Rutgers Business School Thought Leadership at the London Olympics.

“All you can ask for is that window of opportunity,” said Klepacki. “And when it comes, all your preparation gets you through.” Klepacki, who rowed at the Olympics in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996, and Sydney 2000 and was elected into the US Rowing Hall of Fame, is working with other Rutgers alumni to bring rowing back to varsity sports status at Rutgers.

Davis, who won a gold medal at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, reflected that having a big dream then setting up steps to meet goals to make that dream come true helped him achieve gold. “I needed to have a plan to see progress. That helped me get up in the morning to train as hard as I could,” Davis said. “These are life lessons that I used after the Olympics and gave to the kids I coach,” he said.

Indeed after the Olympics were over for them, the Olympic panelists had a hard time adjusting to regular daily life. But they never lost that determination. “Once you decide to do something, you have the drive to see it through to the end,” said Hilliard, who was part of the committee to bring the Olympics to New York City. Hilliard also started a non-profit organization that has provided free gymnastics for over 10,000 inner city youth in New York City since 1996.

This was the third Thought Leadership program organized by Rutgers Business School in 2012. The first was on “Quantitative Finance” at NASDAQ’s headquarters in Times Square, followed by the “Future of Financial Institutions” held at the Lincoln Center.

- By Daniel J. Stoll

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About Rutgers Business School

Rutgers Business School-Newark and New Brunswick is an integral part of one of the United States’ oldest, largest, and most distinguished institutions of higher learning: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey – founded in 1766. Rutgers is the 8th oldest University in America and one of nine Colonial Colleges that includes Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, and Columbia. Rutgers Business School prides itself in excellence, diversity and access. Over 6,000 students are enrolled in undergraduate programs in Newark and New Brunswick, MBA, Executive MBA, Masters of Accounting and PhD programs.

TAGS: Alumni Entrepreneurship London Olympics Rutgers Business School Thought Leadership