Alumni keep the entrepreneurial spirit burning
By the time you read this, Ernst & Young will have just concluded its Strategic Growth Forum® 2012 in Palm Springs – the most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies in America.
Thousands of the nation’s top CEOs, entrepreneurs, advisors, investors and other senior business leaders – including our own Ernst & Young alumni – have attended the Forum over the past six years to share their experiences with innovation and what’s shaping the future of the global economy.
In light of this outstanding event, the time is right to recognize our Ernst & Young alumni entrepreneurs. While the firm has earned a reputation as a “leadership factory” for the approximately 250 Fortune 1000 CEOs and CFOs it has pro-duced, a significantly larger number of alumni are active in the entrepreneurial space.
And it’s hardly a coincidence. Inspired by the Ernst & Young culture, which rewards initiative and resourcefulness, it’s only natural that many of our alumni have themselves become entrepreneurs.
In an economy that depends on new ideas, Ernst & Young cultivates innovation and creativity not only within its own organization but in the overall business community. As Mark Weinberger, Ernst & Young’s CEO and Chairman-elect observes, “Ernst & Young has a legacy of recognizing the remarkable accomplishments of the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. They play an essential role in the worldwide recovery and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
What drives alumni entrepreneurs such as Arthur Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot, and the late F. Trammell Crow, real estate maverick and founder of the Trammell Crow Company? More
Ernst & Young’s multifaceted commitment to entrepreneurship is recognized in the US and around the world. Our alumni include market innovators like Arthur Blank, co-founder of The Home Depot, and real estate maverick F. Trammell Crow.
Dozens of other Ernst & Young alumni ply their talents at highly entrepreneurial companies. This includes alumni such as Rex Liu, Corporate Controller for Tesla Motors, a high-tech start-up out to prove that electric cars can be — as they put it — “awesome.” Read more about Rex Liu and Tesla.
Still hundreds of other Ernst & Young alumni have taken the entrepreneurial plunge by launching their own businesses — everything from social media companies to biopharmaceuticals.
Ernst & Young fosters entrepreneurship
For more than three decades, Ernst & Young has been committed to being the world leader in advising, guiding and recognizing entrepreneurs. Through our marquis programs and resources, we convene C-level executives, entrepreneurs, investors and advisors to network, hear inspirational stories, share ideas and celebrate success. More
Innovation should never end. While this is a core belief of all entrepreneurs, each has his or her own story of tenacity and success. At Ernst & Young, we are deeply committed to supporting the spirit of entrepreneurship and maintaining a key interest in the accomplishments of these remarkable individuals.
Our well-known programs supporting Strategic Growth Markets include Entrepreneur Of The Year®, Strategic Growth Forum, Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ and Exceptional magazine. Most recently, we launched our Global IPO Center of Excellence and the Global Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
What drives the entrepreneur?
Creating a level playing field
Arthur Blank, founder of Home Depot, is motivated by the values of giving to others, which he learned from his mother. The Home Depot, from which Blank retired as Co-chairman in 2001, is now the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer, with more than 2,200 stores in the US, Canada, Mexico and China.
The Ernst & Young alumnus is Chairman and co-owner of an NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons. And he is a committed phi-lanthropist as well: the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has surpassed the US$250 million mark in charitable grants. Believing that “behavior drives results,” Blank notes that giving back has been an integral part of his personal and busi-ness philosophy from the outset. “At Home Depot, we wanted our associates to see that they were in a position to truly serve others: maybe they were making a headache go away for the guy with the leaky faucet, or helping a young couple on a budget create their dream home.”
Blank feels especially passionate about helping disadvantaged children. Sitting in his office overlooking the Falcons’ practice fields, Blank talks about the need to “level the playing field” for low-income youth and their families. Through his philanthropic activities, Blank supports a number of initiatives that focus on the critical periods of development of young people and that foster “innovative ways to transform the conditions that prevent them from realizing their full potential.”
Taking the calculated risk
While Arthur Blank transformed the home improvement retail sector, the late F. Trammell Crow, Ernst & Young alumnus and consummate innovator, built a nationwide footprint for the once-sleepy Dallas real estate market. For example, in 1956, Crow added the Dallas Furniture Mart to his resume, a move credited with displacing Chicago as the center of the US furniture industry.
The Embarcadero Center in San Francisco and the Brussels Trade Mart are other examples of his many developments that changed the face of real estate.
Hand in hand with his entrepreneurial bent, Crow was a true risk-taker. Consider this: before Crow, most commercial real estate was built to order. But in the 1940s, Crow pioneered the practice of speculative construction. As friend and longtime business associate Anne Raymond recalls, “Trammell believed that if you’re too cautious, you’ll never get anything done.”
As Raymond observes, Crow was a believer in doing his homework before taking risks and then sharing the rewards. Crow, who passed away in January 2009, “wanted partners and colleagues to be highly motivated,” says Raymond. By combining careful deal analysis with motivated participants, Raymond says, Crow was able to “turn risk into opportunity.”
We honor the incredibly varied accomplishments of our alumni. In fact, Ernst & Young is the leading professional services firm in promoting public recognition of the essential role that entrepreneurs play in building a strong economy. Our organization has an unwavering commitment to sharing the leading practices that assist CEOs of emerging companies to meet the considerable challenges of growing a business.
Taking the well-considered risk, fearlessly embracing change and boldly seizing the day — these are the attributes that mark entrepreneurs. We look forward to more outstanding accomplishments from the entrepreneurial community.