Building Future Innovators

PROVO, Utah – Feb 24, 2021 – Whether students major in finance, English, or geology, they eventually need to find answers to problems they face throughout their careers. The entrepreneurship lecture series at the BYU Marriott School of Business helps students learn essential skills to innovate solutions that address the challenges that they will face at work, in their communities, and within their homes.

“The purpose of the entrepreneurship lecture series is to inspire and edify BYU students to discover, learn, and apply principles of entrepreneurship and innovation to help them in their pursuit of a successful life,” says Jeff Brown, associate director of the BYU Marriott Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and instructor of one of the lecture series courses.

Each week in class, Brown and the students welcome a series of speakers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences who come to share their knowledge and advice “My colleagues and I carefully select speakers who have the right mixture of personal values and business experience to help accomplish the purposes of the class,” says Brown. “The speakers are also diverse in their industries and their years of experience. Some are mature, serial entrepreneurs who have started and exited many businesses while others are younger and in the thick of running a business for the first time.”

While the class is certainly built on helping students better understand how to successfully run or operate a business, speakers also teach students how to be better disciples of Jesus Christ. “One of the main reasons I participate in the class is to help students gain a more realistic understanding of what startups are like and embrace a practical approach to validating ideas and starting a business,” says Sam Ballard, a 2017 BYU Marriott management graduate and founder and CEO of Ballard Dental Laboratories who was one of the speakers for the course. “But I also want to teach students that faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel and a personal relationship with Him are some of the greatest possessions they will ever have. I also strongly emphasize that family relationships should always remain at the center of their priorities.”

The topic of building strong families and relationships that Ballard emphasizes during his lecture is a topic of discussion shared by other speakers.  “One of my favorite speakers was Jeremy Andrus, the CEO of Traeger Grills and a member of BYU Marriott’s National Advisory Committee,” says Sarah Calvert, a junior majoring in English from Farr West, Utah. “Andrus not only discussed important concepts with us about starting our own business, but he also focused on talking about how we should treat the people in our lives. He said that the best investment we will ever make as entrepreneurs is the time we invest in our employees and our family members.”

Innovation, citizenship, and discipleship are some of the focuses of the lecture series, and they are also some of the key values of BYU. “There is a pioneering spirit that permeates the culture of BYU and its sponsor organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” says Brown. “That culture includes a narrative that all of us were born to create, to act and not be acted upon. These ideals are at the heart of entrepreneurship and innovation and extend to everyone, regardless of their academic or career pursuits.”

While some with an entrepreneurship background might find it odd that an English major would sign up for this class, Calvert believes that students from all backgrounds and majors can adopt that pioneering spirit as they learn from each lecture. “I recommend this class to all of my friends. I don’t necessarily believe I will ever become an entrepreneur in the traditional sense, but I believe that at its core, this class teaches you how to become a person who will influence the world for good,” says Calvert. “If everyone at BYU had the opportunity to participate in this entrepreneur lecture series, I know we would all graduate from BYU with a greater understanding of how we can personally impact the lives of the people around us.”

Someone holds a light bulb
The BYU Marriott entrepreneurship lecture series teaches students the skills that they need to be innovative throughout their lives. Photo courtesy of Riccardo Annandale.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce