The American business owner has a rich history that taps into dreams of financial and professional independence. The act of hanging a shingle symbolizes a critical decision for first-time entrepreneurs.
The path to entrepreneurship continues to be paved by the advanced achievements of these early-career professionals who can adorn their LinkedIn profiles with three important letters—MBA.
Illuminate Ventures examined the direction MBA students took to find a professional and magnetic pull to architect a career from a singular idea. More than 80% of 500 business school students from more than 20 notable institutions see entrepreneurship as a likely next step after graduation. Managing partner Cindy Padnos of Illuminate Ventures was impressed as a professional who integrated MBA students as interns. “It blew my mind that so many people were interested [in entrepreneurship].”
The Graduate Management Admission Council’s estimate prior to the Covid-19 pandemic was far less optimistic of a potential correlation between MBA graduates and entrepreneurial activity. Just five years ago, about 25% of MBAs expected to take a path less traveled.
The conclusion between these conclusions was the pandemic that could support the independent approach to career.
Policy Informed Practice
Rolling up to the start of the global shutdown was University of Michigan (U of M), Ross School of Business student Jeremy Leung. He had just accepted an internship with American Airlines, and then the bottom fell out. Without an internship to attend, Leung returned home to Australia.
Like many students pursuing advanced degrees, Leung’s resume was solid. His work as a political assistant to the Australian Foreign Minister gave Leung an expanded worldview of opportunity. “Even before I got my MBA, I benefited from incredible travel and learn-by-doing experiences with world leaders.” Later classes at the U of M gave me a deeper context for the incredible opportunity to participate and witness politics and diplomacy in action. I began to see the world from a different and manageable perspective,” says Leung.
Leung represents a growing number of international students-turned-entrepreneurs with a knack for connecting the strategic dots between business and international relations.
Ministerial efforts after government led Leung to New York to serve as Director of Business, Innovation, and Policy for the Australian American Association. Largest privately funded non-profit dedicated to connecting the United States and Australia. The 70-year-old organization, through economic and educational bond efforts, has awarded more than $14 million to more than 900 scholars since 2002.
A stint in Mexico as an MBA business consultant at Uber added to Leung’s growing list of experiences that ultimately influenced his future choice to enter the startup space.
International startup players
Leung’s approach to the origin of business and ownership was diverted from the rest of a global pandemic. Recent data suggests the US economy continues to be boosted by entrepreneurs with origins outside the 48 contiguous areas. registered businesses across the country,” reports Peter Dizikes of the MIT News Office. 80% more, as stated in Yasmin Amer’s piece on the findings for WBUR.
Pierre Azoulay, an economist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, the study suggests that immigrants are very influential in job creation through their efforts.
“Immigrants found more companies in each bucket,” says Azoulay. “More small companies are created, and more medium-sized companies are created; they create more big companies. This is not the case [immigrants] only create growth-oriented startups. It is not the case that they just create business of subsistence. They create all kinds of businesses, and they create a lot of them.”
According to the American Immigration Council’s special report, The New American Fortune 500 in 2022, “Immigrant entrepreneurs have long been an important part of America’s economic success story. Some of the largest and most recognized American companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. This includes household names like Apple and Costco, as well as Fortune 500 newcomers like Jackson Financial and Caesar’s Entertainment.”
Leung hopes to add his name to the list of success stories dotting the entrepreneurial landscape. “As I took more and more lessons, I began to see windows of opportunity that would enable my own innovation,” says Leung. The global opportunities quickly turned into a new way of thinking for Leung. His work with an Australian dropship company changed his perspective on the global market. Tan Leung and the Australian dropshipping company, Cettire, combined with his international knowledge, stimulated his entrepreneurial spirit. “I found that my collective experiences gave me the internal confidence to establish my own My company embraces a global mindset.”
The current COO and co-founder of growing e-commerce and logistics company Ascend Ecom based in California reflects on his diversified past. “I realized my interest wasn’t really in getting that classic job or corporate job after I got my MBA. In truth, I saw an opportunity to make the most of a once in a generation opportunity. The pandemic reinforced the need for logistics to support the global economy, and I was ready to embrace the startup, e-commerce culture,” shared Leung.
According to Inc. magazine, 85% of MBA students are considering entrepreneurship after graduation. “In fact, nearly 1 in 5 Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA graduates in 2020 went on to start their own ventures. More than 1 in 10 Harvard Business School MBAs did the same,” adds mba.com.
The sheer number of first professional careers fashioned by an MBA in the world of entrepreneurship continues to expose the international influence on the global economy. The MBA Association’s annual award for MBA Entrepreneur of the Year went to Ximena Aleman, an entrepreneur from Uruguay, continuing a trend of international winners.
CEOWorld Magazine’s ranking of the most entrepreneurial countries finds the United States in the pole position of independent economic development. Leung and others from below led Australia to the eleventh position. “I learned a lot in Michigan and, most importantly, the incredible opportunity to integrate my international experience in the United States, I had to start my company here,” says Leung.
The unplanned acceleration of a global pandemic appears to have sharpened Leung’s professional focus and countless MBA graduates apply life experience to professional success stories.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.