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Janet Strimaitis is managing director of The Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College in the US, where she also studied for her MBA. As part of her role, Ms Strimaitis leads the team that is responsible for all co-curricular student entrepreneur programmes and organises the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference.
Prior to joining Babson in 2003, Ms Strimaitis ran her own company and organised and implemented more than 30 international conferences in the US, Europe and Japan.
In her spare time, Ms Strimaitis enjoys travelling and recreational road cycling.
1. Why did you choose to do an MBA?
I earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry followed immediately by a masters in environmental science. My first job was in marketing for a scientific instrumentation company. The experiential learning in the job was great, but after a few years I proposed taking some evening courses in marketing at Babson College. The company supported my tuition and books; the courses were fascinating. I decided to complete the MBA degree with the enthusiastic support from my company.
2. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as long as you learn from them.
3. Who is your ideal professor?
Someone who can engage the class interactively, guide the dialogue to hit key learning points and summarise the conversation with the important take-aways. Jeffry A. Timmons was a master teacher.
4. What would you do if you were dean of a business school for the day?
Cancel classes (with no prior notice) and have students and faculty spend the day designing solutions to some of the big problems affecting our global community.
5. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Balancing work and personal lives are necessary for healthy, happy living.
6. Who are your business influences/heroes?
People who do well while creating an atmosphere of trust and confidence in the work environment. The names I would offer would not be recognisable to most readers, but think in terms of people you know who allow enough flexibility in the work environment for team members to make decisions, learn from mistakes and grow in their careers.
7. What is the worst job you have ever had?
Working for someone who micro-managed the team and asked people to do things that were against company policy.
8. What advice would you give to women in business education?
Take advantage of every opportunity to lead whether it’s a project team leader, group work or a club activity. Leading doesn’t mean telling others what to do. Lead by stellar example. Others will follow if they respect the person at the helm. The more you practise leadership, the easier it becomes.
9. What is your favourite business book?
The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar. This book encourages the reader to make a life and not just earn a living by finding a role that includes satisfaction and happiness in addition to financial compensation.
10. What is your plan B?
I am doing plan B (actually C). I spent the first part of my career in entrepreneurial companies (the first was rapidly growing; the second was a start-up that also experienced significant growth). Next, I founded my own company and ran it for 15 years. Now, I’m happily using those experiences as managing director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College. The mission of our organisation is to ‘accelerate the practice of entrepreneurship.’
Compiled by Charlotte Clarke