The Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship
Interested in Mentoring?
Please email your bio or resume to:
Director of Mentoring Program
Entrepreneur Definition: “A person who takes new ideas into markets through a thorough understanding of themselves and their ability to think, persist and prevail by maximizing Human Resources.”
Mentors act as a real-world supplement to the standard academics in the Entrepreneurship program. The purpose of the mentoring program is to engage the human factor, which supports the business elements students are exposed to in their curriculum.
The mission of the mentor program is to develop and broaden a student’s personal growth, hone in on their personal brand and support the skills and perspective of the business process by engaging them in rewarding relationships with active entrepreneurs.
We offer a number of mentoring opportunities for business professionals or entrepreneurs to choose from when looking at offering their time and talent to our program.
Upon acceptance into the Entrepreneurship Major Program, all students are matched with mentors who compliment their personality, interests, and skill sets. Each mentor agrees to support (mentor) the student throughout the duration of the program. In many cases, the mentoring relationship continues years after graduation. This is our most involved mentorship.
In addition to meeting individually with the students on a scheduled basis, the program now includes a monthly evening seminar where all of the students and mentors meet to discuss topics covered in the classroom discussions and further discuss other important areas including ethics, leadership, Personal Purpose, branding, business models, critical thinking, connecting/networking, etc. WCE has successfully recruited mentors over the last 18 years from a wide variety of sources including WCE alumni, the highly successful University of Houston Executive MBA program, experienced business leaders in Houston, and from organizations such as the Silver Fox Advisors, the SBA, Houston Technology Center and the UH Small Business Development Center. Recently, many of our best mentors have been discovered by students who recommend our program.
Personal Purpose Mentors
The program begins with a month-long discussion of Personal Purpose. Additional mentors focus on helping the student write visions for 8 different areas of their lives. This gives the student and their individual Personal mentor a good foundation as they set goals in all 8 areas and plan to work on together. Each student is expected to develop a plan for themselves upon graduation and have a plan projected 5 years forward. Personal Purpose mentors will check in on the student as they go through the program to make sure they are heading in the right direction for their goals.
Last year we were able to access U H IP and use the RoundTables to develop the concept. This provided a much richer academic experience that proved extremely valuable in business development and in creating team development and growth. Roundtable Mentors were selected that brought entrepreneurial perspectives as well as industry knowledge and relationships. This approach proved hugely successful as the teams went into competitions around the country. (This class also was able to work with real products as they teamed up with the Industrial Design Class and helped form business plans around the various products. The final presentations were given to the head of product development of Fred Meyer, who mentored each team on their plans.)
WCE conducts 24 programs outside of the classroom. These programs are required and are time consuming for the students. Since many of our students are dependent upon employment while attending WCE, the financial strain can be a severe problem. Investor mentors agree to a $15,000 commitment. One student is given a scholarship of $5,000 that is divided over the three semesters of the WCE experience. Investor Mentors are updated regularly as to the progress of the student. This past year we were fortunate to have two endowed scholarships established in the amount of $2million. These endowments will create 8 scholarships of $5,000 to help students participate in WCE. Our goal is to have every student accepted into WCE to receive financial support.
Each student and each mentor is given a Birkman assessment. These assessments are used for matching mentors, personal insight, career planning and team dynamics. Sharon Birkman Fink is CEO of Birkman, Intl. and provides mentors to come and conduct individual coaching sessions with each of our students. She also comes with her team to Retreat and works in developing effective teams.
The domain mentor works in developing the students business based on their expertise in a particular industry or domain. In many cases the student’s business idea might be very specific and having instruction, insight and experiences from a particular domain is helpful. Domain mentors are available to develop very specific conversations and planning with students in their precise field of interest. They are available on an “as needed” basis.
Students actively developing their businesses often run into obstructions and uncertainty as they get into various technical issues. In these cases we have various mentors who are on call in the event a student has a legal question, or an engineering question, or a social media question. In these cases a mentor from a PR firm or law firm would be available to meet, or discuss over the phone the issues facing the student. These mentors can help students develop special skills needed as the progress in their business.
Business Plan Team Mentors
Various contests are held during the three semesters that students participate in the Wolff Center. Business Plan Team Mentors work closely with the Business Plan Teams that compete in various national competitions, often traveling and coaching the team in these events. They offer invaluable support and add value in perfecting presentations and content.
The WCE experience includes three off-campus retreats, each with specific goals. Retreat Mentors are brought into these three-day events to provide valuable instruction, help lead activities and provide security for the retreat.
On occasion students will struggle with a particular concept or course (usually accounting and finance). Qualified Academic Mentors are available to work with students in strengthening academic concepts and contributing to the classroom material with insights and repetitions that get the student back on track.
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