The Carroll School of Management hosted the Inaugural Symposium of the Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship Nov. 5-7. The first event of the series—the purpose of which was to dedicate the center to its namesake, Shea Jr., and celebrate its founding—was held in Robsham Theater this past Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The event featured a keynote speech by an exemplary BC alum and entrepreneur: Phil Schiller '82, the Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, Inc.
Andy Boynton ’78 took the podium first, calling the opening of the brand new center a “game changing moment for Boston College." He introduced Jere Doyle ’87, the first Executive Director of the new center, referring to him as a man who “loves BC in his gut.”
Doyle took the stage and claimed to have love for three things in his life: Boston College, family and entrepreneurship. As the Executive Director, it will be his job to extend his own enthusiasm and expertise to CSOM undergraduates who can now co-concentrate in Entrepreneurship through the Center.
Perhaps the most important part of the program was when the auditorium paid homage to the late Edmund H. Shea Jr. A full, meaningful round of applause was given not only to Shea Jr. but also to his family members in attendance. Shea Jr. was many things: a venture capitalist, a man with a wonderful smile and a caring friend, family man and business partner. In a video, Kate Morrissey ’14, granddaughter of Shea Jr., said, “BC has every value that my grandfather valued the most.”
Though Shea Jr., an MIT grad, did not attend BC, he had a strong affinity for the school; Morrissey said she remembers her grandfather strongly wanting her to attend BC. Jesuits profoundly influenced Shea Jr.’s life when he was in high school, and he held many beliefs in common with them, doing what he could to help others, particularly young and up-and-coming entrepreneurs. BC's choice to put his name on the Edmund H. Shea Jr. Center for Entrepreneurship was a wonderful way to honor a man who spent his life helping others while finding his own success as an entrepreneur.
The next part of the program brought to the stage a notable graduate to deliver the Keynote Presentation: Phil Schiller, the Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing at Apple.
Schiller opted to casually move around the stage as he delivered his personable, funny and informative talk. He invited everyone, contrary to the announcement at the beginning of the program, to take out their devices, turn them on, turn the volume up, and use them—as long as they were using Apple products. He jested that he wanted any other products to be kept away, much to the amusement of the audience.
Schiller had already landed two well-received jokes before confidently going in for a third: “I decided to mesh together East Coast and West Coast,” he said as he gestured to his outfit, which consisted of a blazer, an un-tucked dress shirt and a pair of jeans, prompting enthusiastic laughter from the audience.
The first part of his talk focused on entrepreneurship—the term itself is quite old, but the spirit and history of the personality embodying the word is much older. Schiller feels entrepreneurs take risks, lead, use opportunities to their advantage and take action. In a particularly poignant part of the program, Schiller contested that a photograph of the late Steve Jobs should be in the dictionary where the word “entrepreneur” is defined.
The largest part of his talk focused on the App Store and how it has profoundly changed the field of software development for developers. The App Store makes it exponentially easier for software developers and entrepreneurs to get their programs out to the market and sold. Schiller proclaimed that the time we live in is ideal for being an entrepreneur, and it is an ideal moment for opening a center for entrepreneurship.
After Schiller’s talk, a panel discussion commenced with him, Bijan Sabet ’91 of Spark Capital and Niraj Shah of Wayfair fielding questions. The three panelists said a lot worth noting, but of particular importance was when Schiller spoke about how a liberal arts education allows one to “stretch your brain,” and learning many subjects helps people learn how to learn, which is what he took with him from BC to the field of entrepreneurship.
Shah only took one entrepreneurship course as an undergraduate at Cornell, but said, “always being a sponge helps you out tremendously,” stressing the importance of learning whenever one is able to work with a person who is knowledgeable in a field or subject. Sabet said that taking risks, trying new things and making mistakes all provide important opportunities to learn.
The panel also discussed the idea of social entrepreneurship, saying that while some companies directly help people as part of their main mission, any company can still reach out and give back to its local or global community. BC's emphasis on being men and women for others will be reflected as in the Shea Center, as it empowers BC students to improve the lives of others through their own entrepreneurial efforts.