The Marshall University Lewis College of Business and the Brad D. Smith Schools of Business hosted a CEO panel on Wednesday.
The event, part of the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series, took place via zoom and featured Marshall University graduate and former CEO of Intuit Brad D. Smith, and executive chairman of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner.
Smith said the series is designed to bring the most forward-thinking leaders from the most innovative companies to share their insights and engage directly with Marshall students.
During the panel, Jeff Weiner said one of the biggest things he has learned in being a CEO is how important it is to be a leader and that the ability to inspire is what separates a leader from a manager.
“A manager tells people what to do, leaders inspire them,” Weiner said.
During a media question and answer session Smith shared some of his advice on how West Virginia can create the next big business.
“The opportunity for us (West Virginia) is to really embrace becoming the startup state,” Smith said. “We need to embrace becoming entrepreneurs. Thinking about how we become more innovative while also embracing the new possibilities coming out of COVID that shows we can work from anywhere.”
Smith said that in order to achieve becoming a startup state, West Virginia needs to invest in infrastructure.
“Our state has to make the right investments in infrastructure,” Smith said. “We need broadband connectivity in every home in the state so everyone can participate in the 21st Century. We can create the next Amazon, Intuit and LinkedIn. In doing that, we can show the world just who we are and what we are capable of.”
Smith said he believes that West Virginia has exactly what it takes to channel the inner entrepreneur.
“West Virginians are people who blaze trails instead of follow paths,” Smith said. “We didn’t go around the mountains to avoid them, we found a way to settle and tame the mountains and that is an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Smith also talked about what Marshall means to him and what it has done for his career.
“Marshall University is the reason why I have had an opportunity to take advantage of the things that have come my way and has blessed me and my family with everything we have,” Smith said. “The only reason why I have been able to accomplish these things is because Marshall University cultivated in me, invested in me, and saw something in me I didn’t see in myself. For me, Marshall University is a purpose and a reminder of who I am and is also why I have become who I am.”
Alex Jackson can be contacted at [email protected]