An Interview with Dr. Business: Professor Robert Donnelly

Recently, we’ve been asked by our clients to share more on entrepreneurship.  Typically, we promote a lot of discussion on the MBA and general career advice.  Now, we’re adding a little more for all of you overactive professionals who want to do their own thing.  Yep, Entrepreneurship will be part of our discussions here on the Blitz Blog.  We’ll soon be adding a column, called Ask Dr. Business, where you can ask Professor Donnelly questions for yourself.

To kick this off, we decided to provide a short introduction to Professor Donnelly and ask him a few questions.

About Professor Donnelly:

bobProfessor Donnelly is an author, educator, and brand builder for businesses and individuals. His latest book, Personal Brand Planning for life, and his earlier tome: Guidebook to Planning – A Common Sense Approach, are both available on Amazon. Professor Donnelly has been teaching in MBA programs for over 20 years now and concentrates on Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and Strategic Brand Management. Prior to academia he held senior management positions with IBM, Pfizer, and EXXON, and was the CEO of the North American subsidiary of a Dutch multinational firm. A prolific writer he was the Editor of the Entrepreneurial CEO column for Chief Executive Magazine for many years and still writes for CE. His columns and blogs appear frequently in the global entrepreneurial space.

Here’s my interview with Dr. Business.

Todd:  From a career consulting perspective, we are seeing a lot of MBAs move towards entrepreneurship.  Why do you think this is happening now?

Professor Donnelly:   Due to the uncertainty of long term careers in corporate America brought on by continuing advances in technology coupled with the implications of Big Data and Predictive Analytics, MBAs are naturally attracted to take advantage of their education and experience to become entrepreneurs by utilizing their skills to contribute to developing customized solutions to new problems emerging in the new world of work. Every semester several of my MBA students implement the business plans they developed in my course to start new businesses.

Todd:  Is transitioning from an MBA mindset to an entrepreneurial easy?  What are some of the challenges professionals will face?

Professor Donnelly: The biggest challenge is taking risks, which are the epitome of the entrepreneurial mindset. Professional managers are risk averse by nature and have become enamored with the safety net provided by the typical corporate umbrella. This false sense of security represents a safer place to be than venturing out on their own where their success or failure is based solely on the decisions that they have to make themselves. Secondarily, they have to have a passion for what they are doing and make the time commitment required for success. This is far different than a corporate situation where decisions are often made by others and you can go home at 5 o’clock without a worry about tomorrow.

Todd:  We know most universities don’t provide entrepreneurial classes.  Where can students and graduates go to get some real advice on becoming an entrepreneur?

Professor Donnelly: It’s unfortunate that entrepreneurship is often an elective, and courses on personal branding are few and far between, if available at all. Entrepreneurship can’t be gleaned from a textbook. It has to be studied by following the now well worn path of successful entrepreneurs. Every business starts with a solution to a problem. Peter Drucker, the guru of management, said “the purpose of a business is to create a customer, and the job of the leader is to grow the value of a customer.” Just think about the problems that you have all day every day. Each one of those problems represents an opportunity to devise a solution. Shake Shack started with a food cart in a park in New York fourteen years ago and just had an extremely successful IPO. The challenge is to implement a better, faster, cheaper solution – Uber, Zip Car, The Swiffer, Tide Spot Stick, whatever.

Thanks, Dr. Business, for sharing a few moments with us.  We look forward to your column on this site and bringing a unique perspective to entrepreneurship to this blog.

So what questions do you have for Dr. Business?


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