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Breakout Notes: Integrating Innovation and Entrepreneurial Thinking Throughout

Posted By Jeanne Yocum, Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The team of presenters were from Houston Community College, Northwest and included: Sandra Louvier, Director for Entrepreneurship; Linda Koffel, Marketing Professor; Evelyn Velasquez, Dean of Workforce & Economic Development; and Zachary Hodges, President of HCC, Northwest and winner of NACCE’s 2013 Entrepreneurial President Award.


This presentation was based on the idea that every middle-class job today is changing faster than ever. Jobs require more skills, are farmed out globally and many become obsolete. HCC’s workforce strategy is designed to empower students to adapt to changes in technologies and the market, create solutions and re-invent their roles and careers continuously throughout their lifetimes.


Dr. Hodges: HCC has been a strategic institution. If we don’t do our job in creating a 21st century workforce for Houston, then Houston is doomed. We have a changing demographic, very entrepreneurial in essence, wildcat mentality, free wheeling. The bigger you area and the harder you fall, if you fail and try again you are valued in Houston. With the oil and gas industry, with the port, with medicine, with entrepreneurship, it is happening, a big time international city.


What we’re faced with is how do we create access and opportunity for everyone. Houston is on the front end of the challenge that is through America is how do we create opportunity in a 21st century workforce and I believe the answer is entrepreneurship. This is going to be critical to our success. The Arab spring is happening and it’s happening in our country as well. How do we provide people with access and opportunity in a new and creative way. It’s taking people where they are and providing opportunity for them there.


You need to do whatever it takes to bring this message back to your institution and push that envelope of change in your institution. It’s all grassroots and taking people where they are and helping them be successful. It’s going to happen one-on-one within the context of entrepreneurship. Get after it because this is the 21st century.


Sandra: NACCE has provided us with ammunition to build the case  for entrepreneurship on our campuses.


Kids today will go through 16 jobs in their career. It’s not so much what you know but what you can do with what you know. What is becoming as important or more important than the knowledge is the ability to innovate, solve problems and bring something new to life. Need critical thinking, collaboration skills and community skills.


Everyone is going to become an entrepreneur.


Today’s job market: Includes a lot of outsourcing. A lot of independent contracting in which the person is a solopreneur. Intraprapreneurs, who need to be like entreprepreneurs within a company.  Sidepreneurs – people who have side businesses. Jacks of all trades. Acquipreneurs – some companies are buying companies beause they want the talent in it.


So basically we’re all entrepreneurs and we need to be able to create value, take risks, be ambitious and be able to create something new.


What role does entrepreneurship education have I preparing people to be these types of employees, these types of entrepreneurs?


Evelyn: NACCE wanted to identify the most essential skills of entrepreneurs and the attributes of a community college should have to help those people be successful and essential practices when serving new or current business owners.  Did a Delphi study to reach consensus to determine these things. (The results of this study are available in NACCE’s Quick Start Guide #1, available through the NACCE website under Publications and Resources.)


Sandra: The entrepreneurship eco-system: Entrepreneurs are most successful when they have access to the resources they need (human, financial and professional) and operate in an environment in which government policies encourage and safeguard entrepreneurs. (This definition is from Babson)


Domains of the eco-system: policy (government), finance, culture, supports (professional services available to help people), human capital (education for the entrepreneurs and for workers they could hire), and markets.


NACCE’s Presidents for Entrepreneurship Action Steps are important in terms of helping to create the right environment and the setting the stage for implementing the essential practices.  Every action that you take make sure it fits one of these steps so that if your president has signed the NACCE pledge you can keep them informed about how what you’re doing fits the action steps. (You can find these steps on the NACCE website in the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge section.)


How HCC has done it:

Entrepreneurship Strategy Phase I.

-       Identify key community partners.

-       Start a business plan competition

-       Developed workshops, seminars and book camps

-       Create a vibrant website:

-       Develop Entrepreneurial certificates

-       Partner with Continuing Education (so you could enroll either for credit or noncredit) and offer a variety of delivery methods


Phase II

-       Grow community partnerships

-       Faculty training on entrepreneurial thinking/the new "Mindset” (key is to have someone leading this that is respected across the faculty and who speaks the faculty’s language

-       Embed entrepreneurship into curriculum

-       Develop entrepreneurial partnerships with Workforce programs

-       Nurture a culture across the college community with administrators, faculty and student services.


Linda presented information on faculty training on entrepreneurial thinking/”the new mindset,” one of the key elements of moving your program forward.


The divide is we have academic on one side and workforce on the other, which is true on many campuses. For much of my career at HCC it was as if there was one camp over here and one camp over there. For some years, I was in roles that happened to make me the umbrella that brought the two together.


The challenge is getting faculty to bring entrepreneurial thinking into their classrooms. We planned this strategically. We knew we couldn’t go directly to the academic faculty and say we want you to teach entrepreneurial skills in your classroom because that wouldn’t fly. I did a presentation at a faculty symposium and introduced it there. Have to use a different terminology. I would call it an oxymoron stealth promotion. We went out and did a proposal to the faculty about how to improve their students’ critical thinking skills, initiative, etc. and didn’t mention entrepreneurship except in the small print.


Gathered a core of people who were interested in the topic. With that core then we formed a little group and planned a conference. The name of it was "the Power of Choice” called them self-direction or enterprising skills (didn’t call them entrepreneurship skills). Provided food and a stipend to the faculty. Had over 60 people at the conference and the majority of them were on the academic side.

Had one panel of workforce people but also had people teaching history, etc., who talked about teaching these skills in their classroom.


We talked about entrepreneurship skills; we just didn’t make it the title of the conference or the main theme.


End of conference was for them to outline a module for their classes coming up about what would they now do in their English or history class or chemistry class re: these skills.


Are piloting HP-LIFE and considering how to use elements of the Ice House program in courses.


We have a core of 65 people and we are encouraging them to let us know what they’re doing and then we’re going to get that published.


Provide faculty with stipends and monetary incentives to make it worth their while to go the extra mile with bringing this into their classrooms.


Comments re: embedding entrepreneurship into Workforce curriculum:


Every workforce program could use this. Examples: horticulture; audio recording & film making, etc.

So our next step is who is going to be a good partner with the certificate to have that marriage of academic and workforce. So people have the AAS plus the certificate in entrepreneurship.



Zach Hodges concluded by talking about nurturing a culture across the college.


We have a culture that we’ve created where everybody has the opportunity to thrive. When I hire faculty I tell them I don’t care what your passion is; I just care that you have one. So everyone has the opportunity to move forward and thrive around their passion.


One of the seven tenets of our strategic plan for all of Houston Community College is entrepreneurship.


What I would end up is to go back to this concept that human capital development = economic development = community development. It is about this country is facing it’s own new Arab spring and it is about opportunity and access to the American dream so it is really important for all of us to understand that that is going to happen at the grassroots. And even as they come in as students asking them questions. Asking them what are their dreams, your aspirations, your assets, your liabilities.


Human capacity building in the 21st century is what it’s all about.



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