Karla Cedano
President
ANES

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Expert Contributor

Never Say Never

By Karla Cedano | Fri, 05/20/2022 - 13:00

The first time I heard the word “Entrepreneur” was in 1985, when I found out that all professional-level careers at Tec de Monterrey should have a hallmark course on Entrepreneurship. I was shocked, and not in the right way.

To fully understand my reaction, I must first provide context. At that time, I was in the first semester of Electronic Systems Engineering, a major I chose for two main reasons. The first was that it was the major with the most subjects related to mathematics. The second and most important, it was the only one that did not have management courses. You can imagine my disappointment when I heard the news about the Entrepreneurship course and the Entrepreneur program. I complained , criticized and even cried at the plot against me and my aversion to management.

“Never say never,” I hear every time I recollect the memories around my career choice.  Because, I have to confess, since 1995, I have dedicated myself to management in the private, public and academic sectors. In fact, I have only been able to develop my career as an electronic systems engineer on and off for no more than three years total. However, my undergraduate training has been fundamental in my professional performance since 1990.

Something I've learned over the years is that contrary to my youthful and naïve perception, entrepreneurship and management are not the same thing. Managers need not be entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs may or may not be managers. In Spanish, the verb associated with entrepreneurial activity is “emprender,” or undertake in English. The Real Academia de la Lengua dictionary defines undertake as "Attack and start a task, a business, an endeavor, especially if they entail difficulty or danger." Undoubtedly successful entrepreneurs will find that definition perfect for the activity they engage in.

Generally, when we think of an entrepreneur, we associate those persons with the creation of a new business, any new business, and this is not accurate enough. Entrepreneurs are those who take calculated risks, who have such conviction in their projects that they are willing to face the challenge of starting it despite how difficult the adventure may seem. Passion, enthusiasm, perseverance, and patience are more important ingredients for the entrepreneur than knowing how to develop business plans, complete income statements or create advertising campaigns.

As a matter of fact, the entrepreneurial attitude is recognized in different fields and landscapes. Intrapreneurs are those who have entrepreneurial skills but work inside an established organization. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines intrapreneur as “a corporate executive who develops new enterprises within the corporation.” Hence, we can find and foster entrepreneurial skills in a wide variety of communities, especially in those that need to thrive in VUCA (Vulnerable, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environments.

Nowadays, I devote myself to building bridges and linking scientists and businesspersons. I have been able to verify that those who are successful in their fields have an entrepreneurial attitude. Faced with difficulties in achieving their goals, they use their creativity and intelligence to overcome obstacles and find ways to achieve results and surpass expectations, instead of looking for excuses to explain why they didn’t reach the goals. Understanding this common factor enables communication, builds trust, and promotes knowledge-sharing between academia and industry.

Photo by:   Karla Cedano