Quietly, steadily over the last few years professors at the Mason School of Business have been working to develop a seminar series that would provide area businesses with the tools and information to avoid the many pitfalls to success that confront them. Hector Guerrero, working under the leadership of the Technology and Business Center (TBC) at the College of William and Mary, has been at the forefront of this effort.
“It’s been this constant evolution of the courses from that first set of Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) events one- on- one consultations to a modular, all purpose system of classes that we can now assemble for various organizations and businesses,” Guerrero said. “It has gone through some real refinement.”
The TBC offers intellectual capital and business resources to entrepreneurs and early stage technology companies. Their support services include mentoring, financial and management consultations as well as infrastructure support. And, they provide key connections to William and Mary faculty.
Today, the seminar program features more than a half dozen William and Mary faculty members and offers regular programs including a Business Outreach Series and additional one-day events through the year, like the upcoming “Surviving the Credit Crunch” seminar scheduled Dec. 9. TBC estimates the programs have already served about 75 area businesses.
“We give them tools and techniques for finding cost cutting opportunities and then executing with their income statements and their balance sheets,” Guerrero added.
The programs strive to offer practical information targeted to the small business community.
“[Small businesses] are of great importance because that’s where the center of gravity is in this current economic situation,” he said. “One of the reasons for the Dec. 9 forum that we are putting on, is that we have seen a drying up credit facilities for small businesses…that’s a tremendously difficult situation for these businesses. They rely on access to short term capital.”
In addition to Guerrero, regular contributors to the programs from the Mason School of Business have included Jim Bradley, associate professor of business; Vladimir Atanasov, assistant professor of business; Scott McCoy, associate professor of business; Ron Hess, associate professor of business ; Brent Allred, associate professor of business, and Howard Busbee, clinical professor of business.
“One of the things that has always impressed me with the Mason School of Business is the willingness of faculty to participate in the community,” Guerrero added.
The outreach has been well received by the local business community. This success is due, in large part, to the support and encouragement of the program’s community partners including the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance said Bill Bean, director of the Technology and Business Center.
“The greater Williamsburg community and CIT have been extremely supportive of our efforts to bring high-level outreach business courses to the community. Their enthusiasm, coupled with the support of the Mason School of Business has enabled our education programs to be very well received by the community.”
Guerrero noted the college benefits from the programs as much as it contributes.
“I think one of the great benefits to us in the business school is that there is a real attraction to large businesses in the business world, they are the ones that get the attention,” he said. “This has been on opportunity for many of us to get involved with smaller businesses. “
Guerrero is the former director of the College of William and Mary Full-time MBA Program. Before coming to William and Mary in 1990, he taught at Dartmouth College and Notre Dame. Prior to joining the ranks of academia he was an electrical engineer with firms such as Lockheed Martin.
“I spent most of my career working with large firms – consulting for large firms, talking about large firms, working in large firms…[being involved with these programs] just opened a world to me that was very exciting,” he added.
“As a consultant, an academic, and a researcher in business I find it very, very satisfying to go in and make changes and see them take hold quickly with these small firms,” Guerrero said. “It feels great to run into somebody and have them say, ‘You know, I took your advice and things went well. We just added several people to our staff and I just want to thank you.”’