Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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March 03, 2014 | Tom Ballard

P&G focused on inspiring would-be entrepreneurs

Glenn Swift(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part series focused on “P&G,” the dynamic duo of Pat Richardson and Glenn Swift, colleagues at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.)

By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

“P&G,” better known as Pat Richardson and Glenn Swift, have been professional colleagues for six years, but one senses that they must have met many years before they joined the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ACEI) in the Department of Management, College of Business Administration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK).

As noted in the first article in this series, they are very dissimilar in their approach to learning, but they share a very similar value system and set of priorities. In fact, during our recent interview, one would start to share a thought, and the other would frequently complete the sentence.

“We are wanting to give back of ourselves, so we are trying to model ourselves,” Richardson says in describing their philosophy and approach. To that thought, Swift adds, “You behave according to your values and skills.”

Continuous learning is at the center of their beliefs for themselves and the students they mentor.

“In 2004, we did not have much to inspire young, would-be MBA entrepreneurs,” Swift says.

To that comment, Richardson notes how much progress has been made. “Glenn and I see a dramatic change in the ecosystem of enabling organizations, people, and technologies,” he says. Their courses focus upon skill development of both social cause and for-profit entrepreneurs. In 2013, the UTK MBA Entrepreneurship specialty was nationally ranked 17th among public institutions.

The change includes a brochure produced last semester showing the pictures of 57 MBA graduates or current students who have joined the entrepreneurial ranks. Of that number, 36 actually started firms.

Those who know Richardson are aware of his propensity for visual ways to depict concepts and ideas. Two of those that he shared with us showed the logos of 83 non-profit organizations that realized a total of 31,400 hours from the work of the student teams and the 16 recipients of student thinking last spring semester that involved nearly 6,100 hours of student and faculty effort. They are available for viewing here (Logos).

The overall number will grow by 14 clients and thousands of hours when the spring semester’s work is done.

So, what motivates these retired executives?

“It is about the challenge and opportunity,” Swift says. “We stay focused on talent generation . . . skilling people to become value creators,” Richardson says. They have more than 175 community partners joining them on the talent development journey.

In a region that aspires for more start-up entrepreneurs as well as serial entrepreneurs, the commitment of “P&G” is important to that realization.

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