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Aug 27, 2021 | Business, News, SPGS

Entrepreneurship program offers unparalleled access to real-world expertise

Study group of students sitting around a table discussing ideas

Before joining the faculty at Baker University, Narbeli Galindo spent most of her working life in the corporate world. She most recently served as the director of international affairs and trade for the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, appointed by then-Mayor Sly James to promote the city as an economic development player worldwide. She also worked nationally and internationally for global corporations such as Pfizer, AT&T, Sprint, and Cerner. And as an entrepreneur, she has run two companies: Narbeli’s Imports LLC and GlobalEITtrade.

So, it was only natural given her experience and expertise that when she arrived at Baker on August 1, 2020, to serve as the William Everett and Mary Ellen Mealman Endowed Chair of Business Leadership and Innovation, Galindo was tasked with creating and building a program from the ground up to educate and aid local and global entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses by providing them the tools and knowledge to ensure they succeed.

Galindo’s project is ready for liftoff.

The Executive Leadership and Entrepreneurship Certificate is set to launch January 11. For 12 weeks students—aspiring and established entrepreneurs—will be immersed in the world of business and entrepreneurship. They’ll have direct access to real-life knowledge, guidance, funding, and mentorship from many of the most accomplished and respected business leaders in the Kansas City area and beyond. The objective is to gain the skills needed to launch a new business venture and make it thrive. It is designed not only for people seeking to start a new initiative, but also for entrepreneurs who have established a business and want to expand in the United States or globally. Additionally, it will guide foreign companies who want to enter the U.S. market and grow locally.

“This is a program that’s going to give students resources, tools, and mentorship,” Galindo said. “Students will learn what is available in starting and growing a business. They’ll learn from professionals and implement real-world experience from local and global sources.”

Starting January 11, students will meet from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They have the option of attending classes in person at Baker’s campus at 7301 College Blvd. in Overland Park, Kansas, or via videoconferencing for students out of state or overseas.

Through a combination of instructors and guest lecturers, students will learn how to match start-up ideas to the right opportunity and learn how to access key local and international resources.

“What many don’t understand is that 96 percent of consumers are outside the United States,” Galindo said.

Students will learn how to devise and deliver a successful business pitch, how to properly protect investments and interests and assign fair valuation to a business. They’ll learn the financing process with investors, branding, and marketing. They’ll also meet with leaders from key organizations and government and local programs and learn about government funding and export programs from officials from such organizations as the U.S. Commercial Service, World Trade Center Kansas City, Department of Economic Development, and Small Business Association.

Course content in the 12-module program will be presented in a variety of formats: case analysis, completion of financial template samples, instructor-moderated discussions, classroom group activities, and outside reading and research. Students will be required to present a final business plan that integrates what they learned and how to implement their venture in the real world.

“This program is customizable to every industry and kind of company,” Galindo said. “It’s 12 weeks, very condensed. Students will have expectations to complete certain projects and deliverables. Anyone can take the course and learn, but it’s up to them to do the work to earn the certificate.”

In addition to Galindo, there will be six course instructors encompassing both the corporate world and academia. And 15 guest lecturers are scheduled, including David Hill, president of Mid America Bank, Jenny Miller, director of KCSourceLink, Danny Meyer, financial advisor at Edward Jones, Terry Obershaw, COO of SkuTouch Solutions, Tom Gray, cocreator and CEO of Make48, and Lori Trojan, executive director of the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce.

And, as Galindo says, the course “doesn’t end at the end of three months.” Students will have full access to mentoring from instructors and guest speakers for at least one year after completing the certificate.

One feature of the program Galindo is particularly excited about will occur toward the end of the session and involves a Shark Tank simulation, similar to the popular TV show in which entrepreneurs present ideas for a business or product to a panel of judges. Galindo is working with businesses and organizations to help fund cash awards for the top presentations.

Kirk Haskins, interim dean of Baker’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies, believes a successful launch of this program will aid the university in exploring the viability of adding more certificate programs to meet the growing demand for industry credentials among area employers.

“This program is a good way to explore the market,” Haskins said. “It’s timely in that it’s what Kansas and Midwest educational entities are focusing on. Baker can be at the forefront in providing programs valued by students and employers, of recognizing a need and providing an educational solution.”

Tuition for the certificate program, which is being offered by Baker’s Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, is $2,500. Learn more about the Executive Leadership and Entrepreneurship Certificate.

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