Harvard Names New Director For Rock Center
Most people picture Harvard Business School as finishing school for the next generation of consultants, venture capitalists, and even tech barons. They associate their graduates with McKinsey, Bain, Goldman Sachs and BCG (with a few Google and Amazon recruits tossed in for good measure). In fact, according to HBS’ own statistics, just 5% of its 2014 class joined a startup (defined as a company that’s been around three years or less).
So if you assume Harvard is the “establishment” or “corporate” school, this next statistic could be pretty startling. According to HBS, within 10 to 15 years of graduation, half of its alumni describe themselves as “entrepreneurs.” And half of these students had launched two or more ventures.
And you can expect that number to increase in the coming years. Why? Fifteen years ago, Harvard hadn’t even built its Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship. Coupled with the school’s Innovation Lab and California Research Center, Rock has turned Harvard into an entrepreneur’s paradise. It houses an accelerator program, along with sponsoring the Rock 100 Summit for alumni entrepreneurs and a New Venture Competition for both students and alumni. It also provides finance and support to student entrepreneurs through fellowships, low-interest loans, and entrepreneurs-in-residence. It connects students with startups globally through its e-Ship program. The MBA first year core includes an Entrepreneurial Management course and a module where students launch a small business.
Now, Rock is taking another step forward in hiring Jodi Gernon as the center’s new director (July 28). Gernon is no stranger to HBS. A 1991 graduate (a class that included Globis University’s Yoshito Hort), Gernon brings nearly 30 years of experience from both the corporate and startup arenas. Initially trained as an engineer, Gernon spent three years at General Electric in market analysis, manufacturing quality control audits, and purchasing. After earning her Harvard MBA, she worked in brand marketing for PepsiCo, even helping to oversee the development and execution of a Super Bowl ad campaign.
From there, she held several sales and marketing posts in the healthcare field, including startup Physicians Online, before founding Launchitivity in 1999. During her 16 years at the firm, which provided strategic marketing solutions to early-stage startups, she partnered with firms ranging from fixtures like Staples and SunLife to startups like Revenio. As HBS noted in its press release on her hiring, Gernon also possesses extensive experience in “business plan development, brand definition, problem and solution statements, digital and traditional marketing plans, and sales strategies for building a customer base.” In addition, since 2013, Gernon has served as a mentor at both Harvard iLab and Healthbox, helping entrepreneurs develop strategies to generate revenue and attract investment.
“We are all excited to have the opportunity to engage Jodi’s commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation, along with the strategic and operational skills she will bring to the Rock Center,” says Laura Moon, managing director of Harvard Business School’s portfolio of interdepartmental Initiatives, in a press release.
Gernon herself is thrilled to return to her alma mater. “I love the whole entrepreneurship environment,” Gernon tells Beta Boston. “I really didn’t want to go back to a startup and working 24/7. This is the ideal opportunity to foster entrepreneurship and generate new business ideas.”
Gernon, who started at Rock on July 20th, replaces Peggy Yu, who had been serving as the center’s interim director.
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Source: Harvard Business School