A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

SOM Professor Helps Connect Students with Successful Entrepreneurs

By Mason Spirit contributor on March 23, 2010

Editor’s Note: Mason professor Mahesh Joshi came to our attention as we were pulling together a feature on faculty and staff giving for the spring 2010 Mason Spirit. We were impressed with Dr. Joshi’s commitment to working with Mason students and helping them connect to alumni and business and community leaders.

Dr. Joshi meets with students prior to class presentations. Photo by Creative Services.

Each semester Mason School of Management (SOM) professor Mahesh Joshi goes far beyond his teaching duties to encourage student growth outside the classroom. Generously giving his time and expertise, he has pioneered a number of programs that help Mason students tap into their potential and connect with area business community members.

An associate professor of global strategy and entrepreneurship, Joshi says that his extracurricular involvement with these activities is driven by his desire to give back to society. “All my life strangers have helped me so I want to give back to my students and to my institution,” says Joshi, who has taught at Mason for eight years.

And give he does. For starters, Joshi devotes a fair amount of his own time to student competitions. He initiated the annual Dean’s Business Plan Competition, where students with innovative business plans can receive feedback from successful entrepreneurs, as well as win cash awards. First prize goes to the student or group with the best business plan. There is also an additional prize for the student or group with the best business plan that incorporates sustainability.

Last year’s winning team came up with an idea for a nutrient-rich energy drink to rival popular energy drinks made up of mostly caffeine and sugar. Inspired by their recent win, some of the students on the team are currently in the process of testing various brews, with the hope of eventually bringing it to market.

“I want to be a part of many success stories, and these activities allow me to achieve that,” he says.

Each semester, Joshi also coordinates the SOM 498 Capstone Case Competition, a contest for students enrolled in the senior-level course. The course is designed to teach students to think like general managers by analyzing business cases from that higher management perspective. The competition serves as the final phase of the course and requires students to draw from the skills they’ve acquired over the course of the semester, as well as apply knowledge acquired from other business courses. As the event coordinator, Joshi invites roughly 30 business people from the community to serve as judges. He also works with the dean’s office to raise sponsorship money and encourages his students to invite their parents.

“Teaching in classes is one aspect of a professors’ job,” Joshi says. “But connecting with the community, with parents, and with people who may donate becomes a second part of my job.”

Joshi, who is an entrepreneur himself, is also the chief organizer for the annual Mason Entrepreneurship Research Conference. When the conference was started six years ago, it was offered to create an entrepreneurship community here at Mason where researchers could exchange ideas and give each other feedback on their working papers. Over the years, it has grown into a popular international conference, drawing researchers from all over the world.

Joshi is also interested in helping budding entrepreneurs. He serves on the organizing committee for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, an annual event held in the spring that brings together aspiring entrepreneurs–sometimes local high school students–and seasoned professionals to discuss the key skills and strategies critical for successful business development. Not only is the academy helpful to students, it also helps out some of the speakers.

“One of the speakers complained that he couldn’t find good entrepreneurially oriented students as managers,” says Joshi. “So I introduced him to two students, and he hired one of them. So [the academy] works both ways.”

–Devon Madison

If you are an entrepreneur, a alum, or both, and would like to work with Mason students, contact Mahesh Joshi at mpjoshi@gmu.edu.

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