Besides the coffee and bagels: 3 ESTEEM Guest Speakers Fall 2019

Author: Caitlyn Ward

Caitlyn WardCaitlyn Ward

Besides the coffee and bagels that greet us on Friday mornings of weekend home games, ESTEEM has done a fabulous job bringing in guest speakers to share their insights on and experiences in entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation.

Frank Flynn, a Notre Dame alumnus and professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, led a workshop for ESTEEM students before delivering the keynote speech at the Innovation Rally on Friday, November 1. Prof. Flynn started with an interactive activity, dividing us into groups of five to hire a new VP for our “company.” This resulted in a very interesting discussion about the nature of information sharing, especially in a world where diversity and collaboration are at the forefront of decision making. Prof. Flynn went on to explain nominal group technique, a way to gather and structure information sharing among colleagues. With the many meetings and collaboration ESTEEM brings, this workshop was not only fun but extremely applicable to our lives as graduate students.   

Tom Brennan joined us for a coffee session and presentation on Friday, November 15. Tom is a very successful Irish entrepreneur in the pharmaceutical industry, having started four companies in the last 15 years. He stressed the importance of networking, especially through his involvement with the Young Presidents Organization, and how to leverage relationships effectively when starting or growing a company. He reminded us “it’s all about the person,” and that the development of social skills and personality should not be overlooked when investing in a business.

As I reflect on the last almost six (!) months in ESTEEM, these two guests reminded me of key aspects that I love about this program. Prof. Flynn stressed the importance of collaborative decision making, and ESTEEM is definitely the most collaborative and supportive group of people I have had the privilege of learning from. Tom encouraged us to get out and go; as one ESTEEMer asked “why aren’t others doing this,” to which Tom responded, “I don’t know, but we saw a market need and decided to start a company.”

For our final coffee chat, Kevin Tracey, M.D., of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, talked about innovation in healthcare through his work with bioelectronics on Friday, November 22. As many of us are interested in healthcare, Dr. Tracey stressed the importance of “aim, then prepare;” know what you want to do, and then prepare to do it. How we go about choosing what to work on and who will benefit impacts how and when new ideas and technologies are adopted. He reminded us that implementation and adoption will almost always take longer than expected, even in areas aside from medicine. He echoed an important aspect of Prof. Flynn’s seminar about the benefit of collaboration, and contributes a lot of his successes to his collaborations over the years with almost 1,000 co-authors on papers.  

The messages we heard from Prof. Flynn, Tom Brennan, and Dr. Tracey together encompass so much of what we do here in ESTEEM, echoing our motto: we don’t study entrepreneurship, we do it.