According to Stewart Thornhill, executive director of the Institute, there are two types of entrepreneurs—those who have the desire to run their own company and be their own boss, and those who want to use their entrepreneurial skills to benefit a larger corporation. Heath Silverman, Ross MBA ’08, falls into the latter category.
Prior to Ross, Heath already had the entrepreneurial bug. Since graduating from University of California at Berkeley, with an undergraduate degree in cognitive science, Heath had started two companies. However, he still felt that he needed a deeper business skill set that could come from enrolling in an MBA program. He was looking for total business immersion in conjunction with a strong, well-rounded general management education.
Heath chose to pursue his MBA at Ross and dove into the graduate program headfirst. He immersed himself in programs offered through the Zell Lurie Institute, including Dare to Dream, the Zell Commercialization Fund (formerly the Frankel Commercialization Fund), the Michigan Business Challenge, and entrepreneurial MAP. He also served as co-president of the student-led Entrepreneur and Venture club. Through these experiences, Heath gained real-world insight and grew his professional network.
Following graduation in 2008, Heath landed roles at larger organizations, where he served as a product manager at Amazon.com and in various positions at Intel Corporation, including product m and venture investing. In the investment role he was surrounded by high-caliber colleagues and was granted the flexibility to take calculated risks that were backed by large company resources. Heath’s career goals centered on entrepreneurial pursuits within his job roles including the deep involvement in the early stages of Amazon Web Services’ international expansion and the development of education services at Intel, an important new layer of the company’s education solutions offered around the world. Heath touts his ability to run international business at Edmodo to his experience of being on all different sides of the equation.
Edmodo is a K-12 social learning platform enabling teachers and students to connect and collaborate. It was founded six years ago by two Chicago-area high school administrators and has grown into a powerful, global network used by more than 40 million educators and students across 190+ countries. Heath is passionate about the company’s mission and is happy to apply his combined startup know-how and “big company experience” to the rapidly growing company. “I’ve tried it all,” he says, “and that’s what has helped me understand what I’m really passionate about.”
When asked what advice he would offer current Ross MBA students, Heath says, “You don’t have to have everything perfectly planned out in advance; people with ‘perfect plans’ often end up a couple years down the road feeling unfulfilled wondering how they got to where they are. You should always be inquisitive, exploring and opportunistic. Every six months, I ask myself if I am still learning, feeling challenged, and excited about what I am doing, and if not, I make a change.”