My week in ESTEEM began with a typical Monday, a long run in the morning in preparation for the Notre Dame Holy Half Marathon, thesis and school work in the afternoon, and classes in the evening. I could not believe it had already been a week since Zach arrived at my doorstep on Long Island after a long flight from Ireland, where we ended our winter breaks, before heading back to school. Our first class was sales and sales management, taught by Chris Stevens, the founder of Keurig and an individual with great impersonations. Not only does he teach us about the fundamentals of sales (as an occupation), but also his words go far beyond that, as he reveals the importance of values such as family, country, honesty, and integrity.
Following sales was Launch Strategy, a completely different focus, where Professor Sam Miller instructs us on the launch of each of our unique businesses. With each week, the large financial workbook becomes more complex as we uncover more and more areas such as market adoption, revenue, personnel, and other costs associated with the formation of a venture.
Tuesday began with the first meeting of the semester for my thesis group. Every week my advisor, technical lead, and I meet at St. Mary’s College with two St. Mary’s professors in communicative disorders to continue to discuss the intricacies of our wearable. We are currently in the testing stage and are recruiting families to utilize and recognize the benefits of the device. Furthermore, we are preparing for the McCloskey competition and want to make sure our business plan looks top notch before we submit it to round 2. The day managed to fly by, a common feeling amongst ESTEEM students, and before I knew it, it was time to go to classes in the evening. Funding New Ventures, taught by Professor Gale Bowman, is of interest to many of my classmates, as it seems to be the class where the most questions are asked, which results in not finishing the slide presentation. When the quick hour and fifteen minutes concluded, we headed to Product Development taught by Mike Kitz, our extremely knowledgeable marketing professor from the fall semester. In this course, we build upon the stages of how new, innovative products are devised, leading my peers and I to realize the amount of strategic planning it entails.
Wednesday is similar to Monday due to the fact that we have the same classes again. Launch Strategy was a bit more hands-on, as we put our financial workbooks to use and began to crunch numbers, which in turn questioned the feasibility of many ventures. Although much more work would have to be done in this area for the majority of us, we quickly exited the classroom, knowing that our classes were over for the week. To get out of the cold and snowy weather, Zach, Eva-Marie, and I attended a hot yoga class, where we stretched ourselves to the extreme, possibly leaving less relaxed than we were before entering.
The following morning, a new Notre Dame face greeted us, as we gathered in Innovation Park for a talk by Mrs. Celeste Ford, a Notre Dame graduate and successful entrepreneur. Mrs. Ford is the Founder and CEO of Stellar Solutions, Inc., a global provider of systems engineering, integration and program management expertise, and a recognized leader in government and commercial programs related to the aerospace field, focusing on high-impact projects and satisfying customer critical needs in alignment with employees’ dream jobs. She began her talk by recollecting her days as a Notre Dame student, stating that she chose the aerospace engineering major because she was good at math and science, which made engineering seem like a logical choice for her, and specifically, aerospace, because it was at the top of the engineering list, alphabetically; if only all important decisions could be made that easily. Her down to earth nature and calm presence was directly in line with her entrepreneurial beliefs; she conveyed that starting a business should be fun and exciting, not daunting and questionable. She stated, “All you need to start a business is a customer, and I knew I had at least one.” We all felt starstruck as we learned about her incredible business in such an exciting and unique field. Although we wished to have the opportunity to speak with her for much longer, the conclusion of her talk ended with an aerospace pun – have confidence in yourself and “reach for the stars,” a motto that all ESTEEM students certainly live by each and every day.