Entrepreneurship Faculty Profile: Candida Brush
Earlier this year, I met with Dr. Candida Brush to learn about The Diana Project™. I recently reconnected with Dr. Brush to chat about her role as an entrepreneurship faculty member and what she thinks makes Babson unique.
What is your role at Babson? How long have you been at Babson?
I am the Vice Provost of Global Entrepreneurial Leadership and the Franklin W. Olin Chair in Entrepreneurship. I oversee four entrepreneurship centers: CWEL, the Lewis Institute, the Institute for Family Entrepreneurship, and the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship. I also have four global research projects: Babson College Entrepreneurial Research Conference, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Diana Project, and STEP. I go in a lot of directions but I have an incredible staff. I have been at Babson for 13 years. Prior to coming to Babson, I worked at Boston University for 17 years.
Why did you come to Babson?
I was an Associate Professor at BU and they did not have a separate department for entrepreneurship. I was the only faculty member doing research on entrepreneurship. One day, faculty from Babson invited me to lunch, and although I was not interested in changing schools, I agreed to talk with them. After many more lunches, I came in as the Entrepreneurship Division Chair. I oversaw the entrepreneurship faculty, department, and curriculum. At the time, in 2005, Babson had about 35 entrepreneurship faculty members. When I turned the department over to Andrew Corbett, there were 50. We went from having 70 entrepreneurship classes to 110. The growth was in part to the increase in the size of our Undergraduate Program (FME) and demand for entrepreneurship classes at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
What classes do you teach?
I used to teach in the MBA and Blended Learning programs. At this point, I do not have a regular teaching load right now because I am 100% in administration. However, I do teach in several executive programs for women’s leadership, food entrepreneurs and educators, sponsored by Santander bank, and the James Beard Foundation. I also teach a seminar every year for students who are going to teach entrepreneurship to high school students in Tanzania, Guatemala or volunteer in the local high and middle schools. This is not a for-credit course, but each fall around 25 students, faculty, and staff sign up. They learn the basics of teaching entrepreneurship so when they go to Tanzania or Guatemala, they are more prepared. It is called the Teaching Entrepreneurship Seminar and it is run through Babson’s Office of Faith and Service.
What area of research do you focus on?
I focus on women’s entrepreneurship. Specifically, I ask the question; “When starting and growing a business, are there differences between men and women entrepreneurs? If so, do they matter?” That is the starting point for my research. There are actually no big differences between genders with regards to motivations, how they start businesses, or the kinds of businesses they form. We begin to find differences in gender when looking at how businesses grow and get money. A lot of my work has looked at women’s access to venture capital, which is the highest level of equity funding and the most difficult to get. A recent research project showed that of all venture capital funded companies in the US, only a tiny percentage of companies had a woman CEO.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is a noun. Entrepreneurial thinking and is a behavior, and this is a verb. I think of entrepreneurial behaviors as set of actions that can be learned and applied to any context. It is how you approach problems, execute opportunities, and create something new of social and economic value. It is not just starting a business, this is a narrow definition. It is applying an entrepreneurial approach in any context.
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
Entrepreneurs are the key to solving the social, economic and political problems in the world. Entrepreneurial ideas and approaches are absolutely essential. If we try to solve these problems using predictive logic or managerial solutions, we will never find innovative solutions.
Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs?
It really comes down to trying things. If you have an idea, planning and conducting a lot of research is often not the right approach. The right approach is to conduct small experiments, test and take actions, get the feedback and try again. Even on a small scale, try to find out if you have a viable idea. It is essential to act, learn, and build, in that order. Simply collecting a lot of research won’t help. Aim to talk to 100 people. If 100 people say your idea has value or that you should make a change, update your prototype and try it, then maybe you have a viable idea. You have to collect feedback before making progress with the idea.
What do you think makes Babson unique?
100% of the students take entrepreneurship courses. Entrepreneurship is in our mission and it seeps into everything we do. Everyone who works at Babson has an entrepreneurial approach. They practice entrepreneurial thinking whether they work in food service, facilities, administration, or the classroom. It is in the culture of the school to have a sense that anything is possible. It is not about what you cannot do, it is about what you can do. Students are constantly forming new clubs and hosting forums because they feel that it is possible to innovate and contribute. Entrepreneurship is embedded in everything here. When we recruit faculty, they often think they know what we do at Babson, but when they get here they say they have never been to a school where everyone is on the same page like this. Babson is a special place!
What do you do for fun?
I love to golf. I am in a golf league. I won our club championship last year! I also love to walk a couple miles every day and sail our little sailboat.
I love the aspects of my job which involve reading and writing. I will read anything. I also love writing papers and articles.
Describe yourself in four words.
Energetic, engaging, mentor, scholar.
Anything else people should know?
My advice for everything is to take a walk. Whatever is going on, take a walk and you will feel better.