Honoring Thomas MBA’63 and Laurie Cunnington
At the Celebrating Achievements in Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® event, Babson was proud to name Thomas W. Cunnington, MBA’63, and his wife, Laurie Cunnington, to the Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. They are both partners of Cunnington & Cunnington, a consulting firm based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, that specializes in energy projects. They started this business after starting and selling the Ward Williston Oil Company- of which Mr. Cunnington is the former CEO and Mrs. Cunnington is the former president. They shared some thoughts during the evening celebration.
Mr. Cunnington began by reminiscing his own Babson graduation. Roger Babson was the commencement speaker, and he said something that has stuck with Mr. Cunnington ever since: “I wish each of you all the success you deserve. No more and no less.” It was at this moment that Mr. Cunnington decided to work hard to achieve the success he deserved. Since then, Mr. Cunnington has founded and sold many companies.
Mrs. Cunnington then shared that she was 26 when she started her first company. After selling this company several years later, she created and eventually sold a development company with Mr. Cunnington. Together, they then created the Ward Williston Oil Company. Since then, they have moved on to Cunnington & Cunnington.
Although Mrs. Cunnington would have loved to study at Babson, the college was not accepting female applicants at the time. Back then, women were not CEOs of major corporations and were very limited by their gender. As recently as the 1980s, a women entrepreneur would need her husband to co-sign any venture funding she sought out. Amazing women fought diligently to open the doors of engineering, law, and medical schools to let female students in. It was then that Babson’s remarkable board of directors started to think more progressively. Today, 45% of Babson’s undergraduate population is female. Mrs. Cunnington urged female Babson students to appreciate the men who opened the door to them. She also reminded men that they must step up to right wrongs and take opportunities to help others.
Mr. Cunnington told the audience that Babson has prepared its students for business success, but that they must maintain a deep sense of honor, unshakable ethics, and faith. You must treat others the way that you want to be treated. He then shared the quote, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and to lose his soul?” Making money isn’t an end in itself. Doing good is. Use your wealth to do good.
The Cunningtons closed the speech by thanking Babson for this distinguished award.