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From Wall Street to Main Street

Monday, September 11 2017 12:00am

By Andrew Pueschel PhD
Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership

“Everyone has an entrepreneurial spirit inside,” said Liesl Carey, Ohio University Online MBA (OMBA) student. “Today’s session allowed me to realize that we can take risks within our own lives. You don’t have to go far to find success.”

On Saturday, Aug. 19, Ohio University’s College of Business hosted 200 attendees during the Online MBA Leadership Development Program. One of the week's highlights was a three-hour interactive presentation on how local entrepreneurs found success within their respective industries and have made a positive impact on the Athens community.

A panel of distinguished speakers gathered in the College of Business Annex to host a challenging seminar that inspired students to broaden their views of entrepreneurship through a series of lectures, group discussions, and team-based brainstorming activities. First to speak was MBA Bobcat Eli Flournoy, impact investor and co-founder of Sugarbush Valley LLC, a social enterprise development company based in Athens, OH.

“Servant leadership, I feel,” said Flournoy, “is the best way of entering the workplace and focusing on local economic development.” During this session, Flournoy expanded on the “Triple Bottom Line” and how his organization is impacting people (social), planet (environmental), and profit (economic success).

Flournoy concluded his discussion by challenging the group to reflect on their personal work: “Are we having the most impact with our resources being invested by the stock market or can we start shifting our resources to have local impact?”

Paul Mass, entrepreneur-in-residence for OHIO’s College of Business and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship, started his presentation by explaining his decision to move to Athens from California after 28 years of entrepreneurial experience in executive roles such as founder, CEO, COO, and General Counsel in a wide range of industries.  

“My greatest ability to help impact a local community will come now,” said Mass. “Teaching at OHIO and supporting student and faculty entrepreneurs allows me to help others focus on projects they’re most passionate about. Together, we can help the local economy and, potentially, much larger communities through business development and entrepreneurship.”

The session attendees had the opportunity to learn from several other Athens-based business professionals, including Greg Buzzell, CEO of New Resource Solutions; Sean Jones, founder and principal of Quick Loadz; Nate Thomson, executive director of Athens Photo Project; Patty Mitchell, founder of Passion Works Studio; and Nancy Epling, director of Passion Works Studio.

Many attendees, including current OMBA student Aaron Chelikowsky, left the session both inspired and excited to move forward with their own entrepreneurial projects.

“There is a great sense of social and environmental consciousness to being an entrepreneur. The panel has shown us that it’s possible to make money and have a positive impact on society,” said Chelikowsky.

College of Business Graduate Programs bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and application through Leadership Develoment Workshops. These workshops are structured so that attendees collaborate, learn from each other's experiences, and establish professional networks to benefit their careers. Amy Taylor-Bianco, academic director of the Robert D. Walter Center for Strategic Leadership and associate professor of managment information systems, and Kari Lehman, administrative director of College of Buiness Graduate Programs and Executive Education, coordinated the entrepreneurship seminar during this summer's LDP.

For more information on OHIO’s MBA programs, visit