Four McGuire Entrepreneurship Program alumni were honored at the 2016 Eller Homecoming events on Oct. 28.
Kevin Kraus, ’99, received the Professional Achievement Award presented by the MBA Employer Relations Manager, Gloria Verdin. Kraus has been the Vice President of Marketing for Roche Tissue Diagnostics in Indianapolis since 2013. He received an Eller MBA and completed the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program in ‘99 and spent 10 years at Ventana Medical Systems where he rose from Worldwide Marketing Product Manager to Regional Manager, West Region. In 2009, he became the Director of Global Marketing for Roche Diagnostics.
“The Eller College and the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program really helped me think about what if,” Kraus said. “What if we tried this, what if we did that? Frankly, that entrepreneurial spirit is one of the things that has helped me drive my career in a field that is focused and dedicated to innovation, and I learned that innovative thought process here.”
Cortez Smith, ’99, received the Sidney S. Woods Alumni Service Award presented by the MIS Department Head, Sue Brown. Smith is a Management Information Systems specialist with over 15 years of progressive work experience in the computer technology field. He received his BSBA from Eller in ’96 and then completed an MBA and the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program in ’99. He was the assistant director of graduate programs for Eller MIS as well as the vice chairman of the governing board for the University of Arizona black Alumni. He was a senior IT solutions architect at Motorola for four years, and since 2015 has been a manager at Cognizant Technology Solutions, a leading provider of information technology, consulting, and business process services.
“Absolutely, no question, the McGuire Program had a big impact on my life,” said Smith. “The McGuire Program taught me how to run a business; how to start it, keep it moving, attract funding, and to actually exit – and that’s important.”
Matt Williams, ’93, also received the Sidney S. Woods Alumni Service Award, presented by McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship Executive Director Joseph Broschak. Williams, who completed his BSBA with a double major in entrepreneurship in three years, is the founder and CEO of Pro.com, a nationwide pricing engine for home projects launched in 2013. Williams started as Senior Manager of Web Technology at NCR Corporation where he took strides to innovate from within the company. He founded LiveBid in ’96, which was acquired by Amazon.com in ’99. For over a decade, Williams held a series of executive positions within Amazon as it grew, developing the marketplace. From 2010-12 he was CEO of Digg, and spent a year as Entrepreneur in Residence at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz before launching Pro.com, which received $17.5 million in funding.
“For me as a 16-year-old, I looked at the University of Arizona – specifically the Eller College and the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program – as a bright shining star, as my ticket,” said Williams. “I came from a family of entrepreneurs, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I looked at all the universities I could go to, and I chose the University of Arizona because of its dedication to entrepreneurship, which was very forward looking back in 1990. I took one piece of paper and wrote down every single class I wanted to take at the University of Arizona, and I ended up taking every single one of those classes plus about four more classes, and graduated in 3 years. It was an incredible experience.”
Eric Smith, '12 Business Management and Entrepreneurship alum, was honored with the Young Alumni Commitment to Service Award, which recognized recent alumni who have supported the success of our students as interviewers during PFAD, externships, internships, mentorships, coaching, informational interviews, and encouraging our students’ success after graduation. As a student, he started his own fraternity, and ran his own DJ company, which he sold after graduation. He took a position with Aztera as a Commercialization Network Alliance Ambassador, representing the Mayor and City Council’s interest in the commercialization of University of Arizona technologies. Today, Smith works with Tech Launch Arizona as part of the Business Development team, implementing strategies to leverage the collective knowledge of their network to more effectively commercialize technologies invented at the UA. As an alum, Smith has continued to be involved with the college through participating in professional admission interviews and case competition judging, career immersion days, career panels, student networking events, and coaching and mentoring students. In fact, he participated in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Alumni Panel Discussion immediately following the award ceremony.
A warm congratulation to our stellar alumni and a heartfelt thank you for all you’ve done to give back to your alma mater.