Ant is an economist, entrepreneur, and global business executive. He works with companies worldwide on the development of new ventures and transformations for sustainable growth. Over the past 25 years, he has held multiple academic, corporate executive, and policy-related positions including at Harvard University, MIT Sloan School, University of California at Berkeley and the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- You hold the new Chair of Global Entrepreneurship at Solvay, what is global entrepreneurship about?
More and more start-ups are being born global. Building a start-up as a global business requires today’s entrepreneurs to think earlier and faster in rapidly changing and increasingly complex global markets. Entrepreneurs are no longer confined to a local geography when building a new business – the world can be their market from day one. Yet building a start-up as a global business requires entrepreneurs with skills and strategy. My courses in global entrepreneurship are about starting up a new venture and building a successful business by turning disruptive innovation into a competitive advantage. Inspired by my tenure during the past decade at MIT Sloan School and Harvard, I developed the Global Entrepreneurship course with real life examples from my research and based on my teaching with some of the most distinguished faculty in this field. In a nutshell, the course equips entrepreneurs to turn a viable opportunity into a focused strategy and well-defined global business initiative.
1963: Born in Sarikamis, Turkey
1985: BS, University of Petroleum & Minerals (Saudi Arabia)
1986-1991: Management Consultant, Accenture/Andersen Consulting (London/Sydney)
1992-1998: Founding President & CEO of Bilkent Technology,Healthcare and Power Group
2002: MBA, SBS-EM (ULB)
2004: MS/DEA, SBS-EM (ULB)
2005-2007: Visiting Researcher, Harvard University
2005-2009: Research Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School & Harvard Business School
2007: PhD (Econ), SBS-EM (ULB)
2007-2009: Post-PhD Research, Harvard University
2009-2013: Senior Lecturer, Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management
2013-… Distinguished Fellow at University of California, Berkeley
2009- … Research Fellow in Innovation Policy and the Economy at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER, USA)
2015-… Visiting Professor of Global Entrepreneurship, Kyoto University
2016-… Professor of Management Practice & Chair of Global Entrepreneurship at SBS-EM (ULB)
Experience in learning
- What other subject(s) are you teaching?
I have been teaching courses in the areas of corporate and innovation strategy, leadership, venture capital, and entrepreneurship. Much of my work examines the ways in which financial intermediaries and institutional organizations impact the nature of innovation and entrepreneurship. I focus on how companies explore new opportunities and generate sustainable growth. Furthermore it considers the leadership and resources necessary to identify, launch and sustain dynamic and enduring companies. I also focus on understanding the drivers of financing constraints for start-ups. We are also launching a new “Silicon Valley Immersion Week” course in the Solvay Executive MBA. The objective of this innovative course is to stimulate “experience in learning”– balancing in-class teaching with fieldwork. It further aims to give our students a unique, on-the-ground look at the inner-workings of Silicon Valley – from start-ups and the venture capital world to the region’s most successful companies.
- How would you define your teaching style?
My teachings are practitioner-oriented. They place a high priority on developing practical knowledge, which means the insights and values required to make the entrepreneurial choice, and the skills and competencies to turn that choice into a successful international venture. Students will have opportunities to explore entrepreneurial strategies through lectures, analysis of case studies and interactive discussions to be better able to assess the challenges and risks associated with launching a start-up or taking a small business to the next-level.
WE ARE ALSO LAUNCHING A NEW “SILICON VALLEY IMMERSION WEEK” COURSE IN THE SOLVAY EXECUTIVE MBA
- What academic achievements are you most proud of?
I am a late starter in academia. I returned to my graduate studies after some 20 years in the corporate and entrepreneurial world. After my second year of PhD studies at SBS-EM, I was awarded a four-year Harvard University Science, Technology and Public Policy Program Fellowship for my doctoral and post-doctoral research. I was also awarded the Innovation Policy and the Economy Fellowship at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in 2009. I am also proud to have the opportunity to work with some of the most distinguished people – Bruno van Pottelsberghe, Rich Lyons, Toby Stuart, Simon Johnson, and Bill Kerr to name a few – during my tenure at Harvard, MIT, SBS-EM and UC Berkeley.
The entrepreneurial choice
- What do you hope your research will achieve? What drives you?
I hope my work helps prepare future leaders to build successful new global ventures in today’s increasingly challenging business landscape. I am passionate about better learning and teaching the emerging business that global ventures pursue and differences in the extent to which these companies harness globalization directly into their core operations. My primary goal has been to increase the probability that students will sometime in their careers make “the entrepreneurial choice,” that is, decide to establish a new venture that either addresses a global opportunity and/or has at least one important element of the venture which is global in nature. My proudest moment is when my insights have propelled the careers of some of my most successful students.
- You have taught in top-notch business schools from the USA to Japan and Europe. What role should universities play in stimulating entrepreneurship?
The quick answer would be: to build a start-up mindset. When I talk to my students outside the US, most want to change things for the better. Yet they all mention something in common: they did not have an opportunity to get an education or training in entrepreneurship in their undergraduate years. I strongly believe that universities should play a key role in building an entrepreneurship ecosystem in the earlier years. In a nutshell, the brilliant minds of this century want their universities to give them a start-up mindset. Dean Bruno van Pottelsberghe and his team are well aware of the importance of building such a strategic entrepreneurial spirit. Coupled with new courses in high-growth high-impact entrepreneurship, the SBS-EM would leverage its historically innovative culture to stimulate entrepreneurship activities to help individuals develop their ideas into successful businesses methodically, step-by-step. Moreover, to remain competitive, any company – large or small – needs to embrace the kind of entrepreneurial spirit (corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship) associated with a start-up.
Vision, leadership and passion
- Finally, do you have any recommendations for global entrepreneurs?
Start building competencies to function effectively in global settings. All entrepreneurs must be able to identify opportunities, gather resources and strike deals. Make decisions based on evidence and analysis. Develop your soft skills like vision, leadership, and passion. Participating in SBS-EM MBA and executive programmes is a great step in starting to build practical competencies. Have a passion… In my experience, passion is a key driver in start-up success. Be curious… Curiosity often leads us to pursue a number of opportunities. Do not fear failure… Start learning from your mistakes to help you do better next time. Work smarter… Remember, an entrepreneur is a “jack of all trades” juggling many balls at once! The rest is … kismet!
Text: Clément Jadot
Pictures: Laetizia Bazzoni