Wilkes University Kirby Scholars Taylor Baker ’17 of Dallas, Pa., and Michelle Lehman of Mountain Top, Pa., can now officially add “international conference presenter” to their resumes.
These two Wilkes University students took their first trip abroad to Dublin, Ireland in June. The women participated in the international University–Industry Interaction Conference and brought home fresh insights on entrepreneurship.
Baker graduated in May 2017 and is continuing her education at Wilkes to obtain her Master of Business Administration. She is also a graduate assistant at the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship. Lehman is a senior marketing major in the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership.
The women gave a student’s perspective on the social acceptability of entrepreneurial failure in the United States. Their mentor, Rodney Ridley Sr., executive director and distinguished professor of the Allan P. Kirby Center, helped them present at the conference.
Ridley also presented and moderated three panels. The panels were “Best Practices in Small Technology Transfer Offices – USA – Canada – Europe Perspectives,” “Learning From Entrepreneurial Failure: The RESTART Project” and “Learning From Entrepreneurial Failure: The RESTART Project.”
“After practicing and studying entrepreneurship for years, it is clear that failure is highly likely, especially in early stage ventures,” Ridley said. “However, our perspective is to treat failure as part of the entrepreneurial learning process. Since we are aware it may come, they need to fail correctly. Correctly just means sooner rather than later, learning and growing from the process and, ultimately, trying again.”
The conference presentation discussed how to change the view of failure from a negative event to a positive one. Many cultures outside of the U.S. do not view entrepreneurial failure in a positive light, and in some cases, it can be viewed with shame and personal stigma. The conference incorporated a discussion on how to change those views because entrepreneurship can be the key to unlocking a path to eliminate poverty worldwide. The students were brought to the conference to bring the U.S.’s positive perspective to the discussion.
“Our nation’s foundation is based on entrepreneurship,” Lehman said. In the United States, when an entrepreneur fails, it is a sign of experience. That experience is worn as a badge of honor in our society.”
The Allan P. Kirby Center fosters entrepreneurship through technology transfer, business development, education and community outreach initiatives. The Kirby Scholar program is run at Wilkes University and top-performing undergraduate and graduate students are chosen to work hands-on with entrepreneurs from the University and community.