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President Michael Benarroch with crossed arms and a smile

President Benarroch invites you to think differently about entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship can be part of everything we do at UM

March 6, 2023 — 

In a recent sit-down interview with Janine Carmichael: Faculty Specialist in Entrepreneurship, President Benarroch talked about his non-traditional view of entrepreneurship and why entrepreneurship is more about ideas and impact than dollars and cents.

What comes to mind when you think of the term “entrepreneurship?” For many at UM, we think of business and particularly start ups. That’s a common misconception that President Benarroch is looking to dispel. “For me, entrepreneurship is about taking an idea, and exploring ways to use that idea to have an impact.”

The changing nature of work and the value of failure

President Benarroch developed his ideas about entrepreneurship throughout his career; as an economist, in launching the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Winnipeg, as Dean of the Asper School of Business, and as Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at Toronto Metropolitan University. During that time, he’s noticed a shift. Each year, more and more students would express interest in creating something of their own, exploring their own ideas around technologies, inventions and social innovations, and bringing others along with them.

As president, Dr. Benarroch has the opportunity to meet with many who are engaged in entrepreneurial thinking and was struck by how much they talked about their mistakes. “They’d spend ninety per cent of the time talking about their failures instead of their successes. I think those failures inform their success.” That journey of entrepreneurial thinking is where deep learning can take place, as competencies like empathy, problem solving, innovation and communication are developed. If a business results, great, but that’s not a primary driver. Entrepreneurial thinking is about the willingness and ability to add value or have an impact, whatever that may be.

Breaking down silos

“One of the things we see in successful organizations now is that they break down silos. Entrepreneurial thinking naturally welcomes collaboration with outside partners, and also within our UM community as we work in interdisciplinary teams to explore ideas. For anyone – students, staff or faculty – who have ever said, ‘I’ve always had this crazy idea. What do I do with it?’ UM has the spaces, connections, expertise to explore those ideas.”

What does success look like?

The president acknowledges there are many wonderful initiatives that embed these competencies in curricular and co-curricular experiences, yet we have more work to do to build an entrepreneurial and innovative thinking culture at UM. But he has vision: “I would love to think that in five or ten years we see some real big winners that come out of this. Organizations and businesses that have a real impact. And I don’t just measure that impact by profit and whether they are able to sell, but whether they have a social impact, whether they really can help overcome a challenge we have in society.” And in terms of our reputation as a university he’d like the University of Manitoba to become the institution of choice for students who want to develop their entrepreneurial mindset.  

Get entrepreneurial at UM

For more information about how to bring an entrepreneurial mindset into your learning environment, get in touch with Janine Carmichael, Faculty Specialist: Entrepreneurship.

To spark your entrepreneurial spirit, visit The Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship.

To move your invention or research into a practical application, visit Partnerships and Innovation.

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