MACON – Attracting and retaining local talent is paramount among the goals of the Mercer Innovation Center (MIC) aimed at fostering economic development and making use of innovative thinking and new technology in Middle Georgia.
Stetson School of Business and Economics alumnus Fabunde Mamey had his sights set on relocating to Atlanta to pursue a job in information technology following his graduation in December. However, one of the final courses he took at Mercer – and the relationship he developed with his instructor – changed Mamey's plan and resulted in the young, creative, entrepreneurial-minded recent graduate staying in Macon to begin his career.
Stewart Vernon, CEO and founder of America's Swimming Pool Company (ASP), entrepreneur-in-residence in the business school and former chair of the MIC's advisory board, led a “Seminar in Entrepreneurship” last fall. The course was designed to foster an environment in which entrepreneurial creativity and confidence could flourish by introducing students to some of Middle Georgia's most influential business leaders.
“I am honored that Mercer gave me the opportunity to help create and lead this class,” said Vernon. “Being able to help mold our future entrepreneurs, and possibly help retain some of them in Macon, is an incredible honor.”
The semester's work culminated in each student constructing a class project proposing an original business idea to a panel of businesspeople. Mamey proposed a real estate business model for his home country of Liberia that received the “Entrepreneur of the Class” award as the top project amongst his peers.
Vernon was so impressed with Mamey's work, not only in the course but also as an intern at ASP, that he offered the student a full-time position with the company, which was recently ranked 113th on Entrepreneur magazine's nationwide Franchise 500 listing.
“They say, 'Who you know will take you there, but what you know will keep you there.' This quote has come alive for me,” said Mamey, who is currently living in Macon's thriving downtown district. “I am grateful to God, the Stetson School of Business and Economics, Mr. Vernon and all of those who made such a course available because I almost missed this opportunity.”
Vernon's “Seminar in Entrepreneurship” not only adds some creative flare to the business school's curriculum, it provides life-changing opportunities for students, such as Mamey. The instructor hopes that by introducing students to prominent members of the local business community he is establishing mutually beneficial relationships that will boost Middle Georgia's economy over time.
“When Stewart Vernon first proposed the course, I realized that his approach would provide a very realistic and practical view of entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Susan P. Gilbert, dean of the Stetson School of Business and Economics. “What I didn't anticipate was how transformative the course would be. Many of the students who took the course told me that they now aspire to be entrepreneurs.”
“My professors at Mercer have tremendously impacted my life,” said Mamey. “Mr. Vernon, along with the entrepreneurs he invited to speak in our class, has brightened the path of my business journey. Because of that course, I have built great relationships that I am sure will help me in the future.”
About the Mercer Innovation Center
The Mercer Innovation Center is an effort by Mercer University, along with community partners such as the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Birch Communications and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to advance a culture of innovation and develop a thriving community of entrepreneurs, with a focus on utilizing technology to foster economic growth, create 21st century jobs and attract and retain talent. The Center is an institutional effort – led by the Stetson School of Business and Economics – that crosses academic disciplines and geographic boundaries to draw from all of the University's colleges, schools, departments and operating units. Community memberships are available, as the Center's activities and resources are intended to be available to Mercer students and non-students alike. For more information, visit mic.mercer.edu.
About the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics
Established in 1984, Mercer University's Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics is named for Eugene W. Stetson, a 1901 Mercer graduate and business pioneer who leveraged the first major buyout in corporate history. Over the past 80 years, Mercer has granted over 12,000 business degrees, and many of its graduates hold senior leadership positions in companies around the world. Mercer's business school delivers career-focused business education programs and develops entrepreneurial leaders and responsible global citizens. It holds accreditation from the prestigious Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which places it among the top five percent of all top business schools worldwide. Mercer's business school has been recognized by the Princeton Review for “Greatest Opportunity for Minority Students” and “Greatest Opportunity for Women” as well as being one of its “Best Business Schools.” In addition, it has been recognized among the “Top 15 Schools in the Nation for Marketing and Accounting.” The School offers the following programs: Atlanta (Evening BBA, Full-Time (One-Year) MBA, Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Professional MBA, Master of Accountancy, M.S. in Business Analytics), Macon (Traditional BBA and Evening MBA), Douglas County and Henry County (Evening BBA). www.mercer.edu/business